In a period of three weeks I was asked to give an online talk for two different audiences, however the theme was the same. How can we give ourselves the support we need to overcome our daily challenges? Was it a coincidence? Probably not. Too much is going on right now in the whole world. Uncertainty has its positive side. It is making people find the answers within. It is making us get in contact with our long-forgotten spirituality. Chaos has its divine purpose. Actually, everything is in diviner order. I was never so sure about this statement as I am right now.
Based on my life experiences I can say that there are five points we have to be willing and humble enough to work on if we want to make our journey in this beautiful planet worthy. The number one is awareness. Being aware not just of our surroundings, but also of our inner world. For instance, to be aware of our inner dialogue, feelings, beliefs, emotions, and the quality of our thoughts. Without awareness there is not much we can do. We pass by life; we don’t live it! The second point is about mentality. Our thoughts create our reality. Repeated thought patterns coupled with the emotions that emanate from them create our beliefs. The mind doesn’t distinguish reality from fiction. As long as we keep thinking the same thoughts for a long time and associate an emotion to them, they will become a belief that will impregnate your subconscious mind for a lifetime if you don’t work on it. This is so true that racism is based on association between repeating thoughts and emotions. Even if the reality shows the opposite. The subconscious mind controls ninety percent of your behaviors.
The third point, which is intimately linked to the second is to work on your subconscious mind. After all, your logical, conscious mind is responsible for just ten percent of your behaviors. Your rational mind is the seat of mathematics, language skills, and decision making. That is it; nothing else! The fourth point is a hard one; most people don’t have the courage to work on their shadow. The human shadow is that part of ourselves we learned not to like it because we were told that it was not nice. So, we repress what we don’t like in ourselves. However, we are energy; emotions and thoughts are energies. We can’t hide or hold energy for too long. Thus, we project what we don’t like in ourselves onto others and society in general. The fifth and last point is the result of working on the points just mentioned above. It is self-love! And how difficult it is to get there! We think we love ourselves, until our subconscious mind clearly shows the opposite by catching ourselves not being so nice to us. When we beat ourselves up, when we don’t have enough confidence, when we give junk food or drugs to our body and treat it as an insignificant object. When we lie to ourselves and choose to believe in the outer second-hand information rather than in our own inner wisdom.
The question now is what can we do to heal our lack of self-love? In order to learn to love ourselves, we have to un-learn those old beliefs, and be aware of our thoughts and emotions that could be sabotaging us, also be willing to go deep in our shadow so we can accept and transform it. I am used to saying that we can’t change what we don’t accept and we can’t accept what we are not aware of! So, these five points that I cited previously are intrinsically linked.
The secret is to go step by step, but with diligence and persistence. Important breakthroughs are a result of small changes that, overtime, result in deep transformation. I will share some techniques that I used on myself. In order to develop awareness and become more mindful, meditation is essential. Mindfulness meditation and mindfulness exercises are made for that. When we meditate, we travel to the inner world of the here-and-now. We become aware of its landscape, the inner habitat by making our thoughts, feelings and emotions consciously present. Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, and the Feldenkrais method of body work are excellent options for becoming aware of your body and movement, and the emotions and thoughts attached to them.
The way to work on our mentality is about to develop a more positive thinking and attitude. In order to achieve it, you have to become aware of your thoughts, so mindfulness meditation is really important because it shows what is happening in your mind, but without judging yourself. Remember you can’t change what you are not aware of. Pay attention to your self-talk; what you think and say to yourself you spread it to all your relationships. Be nice to yourself and replace your inner dialogue with a more compassionate one. The human brain has around 70,000 thoughts daily; 60% to 70% of these thoughts are negative. One of the explanations is because the human brain was wired to seek danger, you could be a dinosaur’s dinner. But today we are living in a different time. However, the negative thinking and the drama are media’s central focuses. Thus, staying away from drama and immediately substituting the negative thought by a positive one is of tremendous help. Don’t avoid the negative thinking. You will die doing that because, according to Buddha, the nature of the mind is to think. Let those thoughts come and then replace them with the positive ones right away. In time your brain will do that almost automatically if you keep practicing it!
We should learn how to work on our subconscious mind not just in the family, but also at school. During the first seven years of a human being, it is the subconscious that reigns in life’s scenario. It doesn’t have a filter; it takes everything literally. Now think how many misconceptions and false beliefs we carry with us for the rest of our lives! Self-prejudice and prejudice in general have its roots in the subconscious mind. Self-worthy and self-confidence are attributes of the subconscious mind. How many people who have become very successful and famous and get a lot of recognition have no self-worth, self-respect, and zero self-love? They have a private miserable life. Hypnosis is like a meditation with a focus and an intention. So, when you are relaxing, have the intention to change those negative beliefs about yourself. Listen to hypnosis videos or audios. Even better, have some hypnosis sessions with a reliable professional. It can change your life for the better.
Shadow work and Jungian therapy are incredibly helpful in order to recognize your shadow, accept it and then transform it in a positive outcome. Family constellation and shamanism are also beneficial. Like the beautiful lotus flower, which comes from the dirt, something beautiful and radiant can also come from the human shadow. But you have to be brave enough to work on your emotional trash. This way you are not only healing yourself, but the society in general because what you don’t like in yourself you project to others around you. Questions you can ask yourself that can bring some insights about your shadow are: “What is in this person that I don’t like?”; then, “Do I have the same attribute?”; “Do I do the same thing?“ You can be surprised with the answers. Not every time you don’t like someone is a projection of your shadow. There are people vibrating in lower energies out there for sure. Yet, sometimes you do the same! Just pay attention, without judgement!
Finally, if you are able to work on the points above, the result is self-respect and self-love. It doesn’t mean you are perfect. It means that you have enough compassion to accept your humanness and imperfections because you know that we all are perfect in our imperfections. One exercise that may help you to get there is sitting up straight and comfortably in a chair and closing your eyes. Next, take a slow deep breath and place both of your hands over you heart. Stay there for five minutes just listening to your heart beat. You can thank your heart for its hard and incessable work. You can also become aware of your self-talk and the emotions your heart has been holding on for so long! Let them get out and cry if they're asking you to do so. The result is that you may live longer with a healthier heart. Practice this exercise daily and see the results. Remember we are spiritual beings having a human experience. When you are compassionate to yourself, you become more compassionate to others. Thus, it becomes much easier to overcome any challenge that life can throw at you!
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Bly, Robert, A Little Book on the Human Shadow, 1979
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Kabat-Zinn, Jon, Mindfulness for Beginners, 2012
Lasater, Judith H., Restore and Rebalance – Yoga for Deep Relaxation, 2017
Murphy, Joseph, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, 2007
Sheldon, Cyndy, Gestalt as a Way of Life, 2013.
Surya, Lama Das, Awakening The Buddha Within, 1997