In all the ‘healing’ fields of psychotherapy, mindfulness, yoga, and so many more holistic, helping approaches, there lies a hidden platform.
A platform that everything else resides on, rests on and depends on.
You might think it’s setting realistic goals, or facing your problems, or sleep, or meditation or so many other actions we take to feel better.
But none of these, none, will be truly healing without this one thing. It doesn’t matter what the heck you are doing unless this is present… it is the attitude towards what you are doing. The attitude of loving yourself.
Wait! Don’t turn me off yet. I know it sounds cliche, it sounds hokey “just love yourself”, like something from the sixties hippie movement. I know. I resisted this idea for years, but it is true.
All change relies on an underlying awareness of compassion. A compassionate eye that can view what you are doing with from a place of love.
A judgemental eye never healed anyone. You cannot berate, shame or criticize yourself into being a better person.
So if we are not judging, what are we doing? We are watching, observing non-judgementally. I call this type of listening “love”.
True compassion is listening.
True compassion is healing.
Like a child in distress, we can learn to listen and love ourselves into healing.
We can learn to listen to our own nervous systems with an awareness that says “I hear you. What do you need?”
And we can respond to ourselves in a nurturing, kind way.
This IS love.
Anything different creates a cascade of stress chemicals and continues the hamster wheel turning of “I’m not enough”.
In therapy, we can slow down long enough with a safe person to witness what is happening, the thoughts, feeling and sensations can rise in a compassionate place and be seen and held, honoured and healed.
In mindfulness, we can be aware of what is arising in the moment, and without judgement, see the truth of what is.
In nervous system health, we can witness the subtle, soft whispers or the loud roars of an over-worked system, and somehow, in the witnessing, it starts to quiet.
In yoga and breathwork, it is the same. ONLY when done in a container of kindness, with attention not only to the poses or breath, but to what you feel without judgement can any change occur.
I have myself tried to beat myself into being better, fitter, healthier, more successful.. but it’s not lasting. Change from self-loathing will never work. Change from the idea that of “not good enough” will never last.
I see people force, effort and beat themselves into being better all the time. It doesn’t work. It’s not better.
When I realized this truth, everything changed. Everything came from this one truth: I love myself.
My life became more fulfilling, more satisfying, more enjoyable on a daily basis. Opportunities and people opened up because I myself was open to being….. me!
The biggest fault in western society is that we are not taught or encouraged to love ourselves.
This was so clear in a video clip of the Dalai Lama being asked what to do when meditation students don’t like themselves. He was confused, thought it was a translation error… this phenomenon of people hating themselves was completely foreign to him. We don’t have to live that way.
The biggest gift you will ever give yourself is your own love, your own attention, your own acceptance.
When I see people try and battle themselves out of chronic pain, anxiety, trauma or depression, I know it is a tall order to ask them to put down their weapons. It is how they have survived.
To surrender can feel like giving up. But when you throw up the white flag, a bigger space, a larger love will catch you, hold you and heal you. You may call it the Universe, God, Love, True Self, or what feels right for you, but it is there. The endless stream of well-being that we can access in the compassionate witness.
You are not your thoughts, you can witness them.
You are not your feelings, you can hold them with compassion.
You are not what happens to you. You are the one watching it.
Loving yourself is the first step, and without this everything else is a battle. Or at the very least developing a kinder relationship with yourself. BUT this is not a matter of doing anything ‘right’, or being loving when you feel like killing someone.
NO! Just watch it all with compassionate eye. ALL of it.
Watch your mind at work and smile.
Feel the energy of your feelings come and go.
You are allowed every single thought, feeling and impulse you have. Judging yourself for them never helped anyone, it just breeds shame. And that shame spills out on others.
I’m only ever interested in what is helpful, and this I know for sure. We can become our own biggest support, our strongest love. I’ve done my fair share of going into war to recognize the difference.
Trust it. Follow it. Repeat it until it becomes habit and belief.
And watch how your life changes.
One question you can start with is: IF I truly loved myself deeply, what would I do here?
Boundaries get formed.
Priorities become super-clear.
Relationships heal, and some end.
Parenting becomes easier.
Nervous systems relax.
Movement and exercise become softer, easier, more enjoyable.
Pain, hardship and illness become more manageable.
.. and healing can happen at a cellular level.
If you are ready to heal at a truly deeper level, from burnout, trauma, anxiety, pain, then reach out to me. I offer online counselling as well as classes in Kelowna on nervous system health.
Also, registration for my spring 10 week online class “Burnout to Balance” will open March 5th.
I will keep you updated!
Lots of love to you,
ps. If you haven’t seen my free training on recovering from what I call “empathic burnout”, you can watch it by clicking right here: