Thursday, March 4, 2010

Loving Oneself

I've been trying my best to make a clearing for myself. I fill up my days with so many to-do items.

If I stop and ask myself why I'm such a doer, an answer starts to emerge. Why do I do, do, do? Well, it's because I want to achieve, achieve, achieve. And why do I want to achieve so much? Because I am seeking affirmation and validation from other people. Why do I seek so much external affirmation and validation? Well, that answer is a little more complicated.

First, my biological father didn't want to have anything to do with me when my mom found out she was pregnant. I'm pretty convinced that a blow like that can set one back in the mental health department. It's rejection at the deepest level. For all these years, I've been trying to prove to others and myself that I'm worthy of love.

Second, seeking external affirmation and validation from others is part of our country's Puritanical roots. We are only truly good if the community deems us good. It's built into the ethos of our country, and it feeds the consumerism machine. If we thrive on external affirmation and validation, then we are susceptible to advertising that tells us we need the newest, shiniest thing in order to be accepted.

So how does one go about shifting the balance from external to internal affirmation and validation? That's another slightly more complicated question.

Let me take a stab at generating some ideas:

  1. We should surround ourselves with people who build us up rather than tear us down. I'm doing pretty well in this department (thank, Matt!), but I should do a better job of making sure I provide this for my friends.
  2. We should analyze our actions through this lens. Every time I'm tempted to take on a new project, I should screen it. Am I truly doing this for myself or for someone else? Awareness is the first step.
  3. I should practice daily self-affirmations. I've gotten into the habit of saying thank you for everything I'm grateful for as I fall asleep (and take my 25 deep, abominable breaths), but I should try directing compliments at myself. I should think back through my day and celebrate what I love about myself. In fact, I should try to do this throughout the day as things occur. I should say a lot of "I love you because..."
Any other ideas?

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Molly said...

Do you like writing exercises? I pulled this one from "Spiritual Journaling" by Julie Tallard Johnson:

-What you say to yourself holds an incredible amount on influence on how you feel and act. What words to you carry in your head? What words do you use to describe yourself? Write about this.
-For you, what follows the words "I am..."? Make a list of I ams.
-Write about something you appreciate about yourself.

Stephanova said...

If you don't mind something slightly spiritual-based, I really like the Buddhist Metta Prayer (Metta Sutra). There are a lot of different translations, but this is the one I'm attached to:

May all beings be happy, content and fulfilled.

May all beings be healed and whole.

May all have whatever they want and need.

May all be protected from harm, and free from fear.

May all beings enjoy inner peace and ease.

May all be awakened, liberated and free.

May there be peace in this world, and throughout the entire universe.

The idea is to say this as a meditation starting with yourself and then moving outward to people you love (your partner, your family, you friends) and then to people you don't know. I like to say it for myself, and also when I'm, for instance, driving and someone cuts me off. It reminds me to chill and that wishing them well and myself well puts much better energy into the universe.

I think it is really powerful. I learned this when I was in PeaceJam in high school and met the Dalai Lama. During that weekend a Buddhist monk had all the students (there were probably about 100 of us) form two circles-- on inner and one outer-- and then walk in opposite directions facing the other people. As we walked, we said the first line of the prayer to each person. It was AMAZING the feeling of good will that emanated from that exercise. I try to reflect on that when I'm feeling angry/down on myself/stressed.

Seangela said...

I always appreciate your honesty. Life is such a work in progress.

Amy said...

My favorite quote:

"I do enough. I have enough. I am enough."

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