My 10 year old daughter excitedly came into the room where I am working and read aloud something she thought was great in the 20th Anniversary Harry Potter Special Edition Newsweek Magazine she was thrilled to get this afternoon. She read aloud to me a Harry Potter fan letter from the article, “What Harry Potter Means to Me”. She read:
"I discovered Harry Potter when I was in middle school, a time when I was struggling to find my happiness and myself. This magical world opened my imagination, taught me to love myself and my flaws/quirks, gave me hope and made me feel alive. Harry Potter was and forever will be, my saving grace.” Ashley Craig.
I was very touched that this is what she wanted to share with me out of the entire magazine; and that she got the fact that accepting our flaws and quirks is an important part of being happy.
She knew I would be glad to hear that this letter found its way into her beautiful, slick, shiny new magazine because we have been talking for a long time about how important self love is. And that it starts with accepting all parts of ourselves, even the parts we don't like so much.
I used to think that if I was hard on myself then I would improve in the areas where I felt down on myself. I learned from neuroscience that the opposite is true because feelings of shame release chemicals in the body that shut down the learning centers of the brain. This then makes it almost impossible to improve. Feelings of kindness, self-compassion actually release dopamine into the body, which not only feels good but also opens the learning centers of the brain.
Recent research found that people who practice self-compassion are more motivated, relaxed and are happier than people who don't like letting themselves off the hook very easily.
Instead of getting down on myself for my foibles and mistakes, if I am self-nurturing, compassionate and accepting of myself and accepting of life as it happens, offering no resistance, then I am in alignment with myself and life. That can be hard if I am upset at something idiotic that I did, or if I do something that I think is achingly embarrassing, or if I start to compare myself to others and wonder why I have not been able to accomplish things I really wanted to that seem easy for others. It can be a downward spiral quickly. Guilt, shame, frustration and anger definitely don't feel good.
I am learning to relax and let go. Allow all that comes up to be just as it is. And breath deeply and relax. Instead of pushing the feelings down again, what seems to work best is to just let them be, accept them as they are. Feel into where they are in the body, where the contraction is and allow it. They release more readily the more I do this.
T. Harv Eker, who wrote Secrets of the Millionaire Mind points out in a recent blog that feelings are just feelings and it is important to express them, even just writing them down, so they don't become toxic and fester inside of us.
I love what Iyanla Vanzant says about putting what you think are your shortfalls, what you think are your flaws and quirks, right out there and to declare them out front to take all the charge out of them.
And I also love this quote by Ekhart Tolle: “You may have noticed that the narrative of ‘me and my story’ is not all that satisfying, and for many it is actually very unpleasant.”
It is a proven fact that the mind is like velcro to anything negative that happens and like teflon to the positive things.
What works best for me to get out of the narrative of “me and my story” and all it’s accompanying negativity is to change brain states. If I shift to Alpha brain state by doing a breathing pattern for a few minutes, my body relaxes and in Alpha state it is hard to worry and be negative. It is important to know though, that is is hard to do a breathing pattern when stressed out, so first you have to think about something that relaxes you like walking on the beach or taking a hot bath, or whatever it is that relaxes you, and that will relax you enough to then start a deep breathing pattern. In Alpha state, the mind is alert, more connected to intuition. In Alpha it is easy to be in the present moment when you have that intention.
When just being aware of the five senses, aware of wordless sensations, there is no "story" or self critic or problem.