When you are sick and go to the doctor, the doctor never
says “Here are three pills – one for your spouse, one for your boss, and one
for your mother-in-law. Once all of them take their medication, you will be
just fine!” As absurd as this sounds, this is exactly what many people attempt
to do in their relationships – to fix others so they can feel better. “The only
way we can feel better is by working on ourselves”.
Daily Archives: June 28, 2011
I truly believe that all of you can accomplish the goals you set for yourselves when you move from wanting something to happen in your lives to actually making it happen… Wanting to make a positive change is only setting the goal… To actually get what all of you want there must be “Action”… don’t let Abuse get in the way!
Let’s face it. We all want to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a common pursuit. We all realize, sooner or later, that outer success does not produce lasting happiness.
So what does? Loving ourselves and loving others. In fact, we can only love others authentically when we love ourselves.
So why is it that some people seem to feel self love easily, while others spend their lives searching in relationships or career accomplishments to find it? While it may seem cliche, the answer does seem to point to experiences in childhood.
What we know as self esteem begins, originally, in the esteem parents have for their children. Through the simplest acts of touch, attention to feelings, and guidance toward accomplishment, a child comes to see their own worth reflected in their parents’ eyes. They see themselves as love-able i.e. worthy and able to be loved.
These feelings are so powerful that they have been found to influence longevity. When through various forms of abuse and neglect a child fails to get this mirror of love, two things happen. First the child begins to take in the feeling of defectiveness or un-loveability. Since, to a child, a parent is God, parental abuse and neglect (including insensitivity to feelings) is experienced as justified. “If mommy or daddy treats me this way, it must be my fault.”
A second thing also happens. Children are masters at devising strategies to get love or prevent abandonment. A common “protective strategy” is perfectionism. “If I’m perfect, then mommy or daddy will love me.”
The search for perfection can become a lifetime one, whether it be for the perfect partner, the perfect accomplishment, or the perfect amusement or “high.” But the result will always be disappointing. Nothing can replace self love.
Is there hope for those who didn’t get enough love in childhood? The answer is a resounding yes!! But like anything worthwhile, it takes effort. The key is in the way we experience our memories of parenting.
Rather than being simply static memories from childhood, each of us carries within our mind an “inner parent,” a voice which talks to us much as our parents did. If our parenting was primarily supportive, our self talk will be so also. If our parenting was primarily negative, we will tend to be self critical much of the time.
Some of this self criticism will be a simple replay of what we heard. More often, though, a child criticizes themselves to protect their relationship with parents. In this fact lies both the source of much of our distress — and the seed of our renewal.
Once we realize that people with high self-esteem talk lovingly to themselves — especially when under stress, and those with low self-esteem are self critical, we create for ourselves a pathway to change. The goal becomes changing the way we talk to ourselves.
Three Steps to Move from a Pursuit of Happiness to True Happiness
Step One: Awareness
It’s amazing how differently we can talk to ourselves at different times. If we’re having a good day, our mind often reflects this in positive thoughts. Often, at such times, our mind can be very quiet and peaceful.
Contrast this with times we’re under stress or after experiencing some disappointment. At those times our mind can be quite negative and quite “busy.”
In my experience, when our mind is full of anxiety, and general static, we are often re-experiencing a “child state of mind.” In essence, a negative life event has sent us shuttling back in time to experience younger feelings. Once we can recognize how we’ve gone from feeling expansive and adult to insecure and childlike we have an amazing gift. We can feel compassion.
Step Two: Compassion
When ever we shift into an insecure child state of mind (we all do at times), we each “go home” to specific inner experiences of support, abuse, or neglect. Depending on our particular childhood, we will be able to generate self love and self care at such times, or not.
But whatever happens, it’s not our fault. This fact is crucial. Once we recognize that it’s only by the luck of the draw that we go home, in our minds, to inner parental support, we become more empathic.
We can feel love for ourselves and our particular story. From that compassion we can truly take better care of ourselves. We can undertake authentic adult action.
Step Three: Authentic Adult Action
In a child state of mind, we often feel passive and helpless. Our self talk includes either anxious statements like “I’ll never be good enough,” ” I can’t do it,” “If only,” or self critical ones “snap out of it,” “grow up,” or “stop making a mountain out of a molehill.”
Once we recognize that we’re in a child state, and have compassion to our unique childhood experience, we need to actively assert our adult energies. Authentic adult actions are those which help us shift us out of a child state to a more expansive and adult sense of ourselves. Simply put, authentic adult action involves greater self care.
Sometimes this involves just accepting our current feelings as a reflection of earlier childhood experience. At other times, it includes actively taking better care of needs. Whether it be preparing a nice meal for ourselves or calling a friend, authentic adult action is, in essence, being like a “positive self parent.”
Often, too, authentic adult action involves challenging our stream of negative self talk. This is much easier to do when we realize that we’re in a child state of mind. We may be stuck in the pursuit of happiness and not truly happy. Whenever we’re having catastrophic “what if” thoughts about the future, we can become more relaxed if we recognize that our thinking may be more that of a young child than a full adult.
This can give us compassion — and, often, a humorous perspective. The three keys to self love and truer happiness are awareness, compassion, and authentic adult action.
About the Author:
- A soldier of sorts is diligently fighting the fight so you don’t have to.
- Someone who suffered from a severe injury last year is back on their feet.
- A small group of people are building something that will soon make the impossible possible
- Somewhere on Earth a double rainbow is stretched from one end of the horizon to the other.
- One of the next Billboard-chart-topping musical artists is patiently rehearsing in her garage.
- A piece of literature is being written that will eventually change your perspective on life.
- Young children all over the world are singing and dancing before they even realize there is anything that isn’t music.
- A friend is helping a friend rise above thoughts of suicide.
- Someone is thinking what you’re thinking, but hasn’t said anything yet either.
- Two people in your hometown are falling in love.
- Somewhere someone is admiring a breathtaking sunrise, and somewhere else a surreal sunset.
- People of various religious backgrounds are in temples, churches, mosques and other places of worship praying, wholeheartedly, for world peace.
- Someone who has struggled with their weight for the last several years is standing on a scale and smiling.
- Hundreds of cute elderly couples are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
- A baby girl just took her first few steps without falling.
- Two best friends are laughing so hard they aren’t even making any noise.
- A future world leader is in grade school at recess.
- Someone is in the process of sincerely forgiving a seemingly unforgivable act.
- There’s a kid studying hard somewhere who aspires to get to where you are in life.
- A firefighter is running into a burning building to rescue a perfect stranger.
- Someone in your vicinity genuinely wants to be your friend.
- A young mom is lying in a hospital bed and holding her newborn baby twins for the very first time.
- Someone is taking a shower and singing happily at the top of their lungs.
- There is someone out there who smiles when they think of a specific moment they once shared with you.
- An alcoholic just celebrated one full year of sobriety.
- Volunteers in major cities all over the world are working at homeless shelters caring for those who are less fortunate than themselves.
- A young man is pulled over on the side of the road helping a young woman change a flat tire.
- A high school athlete just broke her own personal record.
- Two teenagers just received their very first kiss ever from each other.
- A husband and wife who were drowning in debt five years ago proudly hold a balance of zero on their credit cards.
- Someone is hugging a friend who desperately needs it.
- A new small business owner just wrapped up his first profitable year working for himself.
- A grandfather is holding his granddaughter’s hand and they’re both smiling from ear to ear.
- Someone just placed their spare change in the charity collection cup at the grocery store.
- A small group of friends are sitting around a table sharing funny stories and cheerfully reminiscing about the good old days.
- A breast cancer patient just found out her cancer is in complete remission.
- Someone out there is missing you and looking forward to your next visit.
- Honest people are working for various government entities to help protect your basic human rights and civil liberties.
- An emergency room surgeon is in the middle of saving his patient’s life.
- Someone is holding the door open for the person behind them.
Right now is a new beginning. Right now is an opportunity.
Do something extraordinary.
When you are sick and go to the doctor, the doctor never