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Posts tagged ‘Self-Love’

Who Do You Let Into Your Heart?

Heart ImageBecause I believe that it’s our natural state to love (and be loved) unconditionally and without restrictions, I was surprised when I recently researched how people let others into their hearts and discovered that everybody has different rules about who they let in, and that many put parameters and restrictions on receiving love.

For instance, one person I asked told me that she didn’t open up all that much because “people might leave.” That person, even though she’s very self-aware, had put a restriction on what she would allow so she didn’t have to face the pain should something happen, or the friendship end, or someone leave her life.

This was a variation on a theme that emerged during my research: some people can be very open and energetically let people in, whereas others define themselves as very private and remain locked, restricting how much love they let in (and conversely, how much love they give).

Obviously, letting love in assumes there’s a foundation of safety, trust and love, as you wouldn’t let into your heart somebody who’s abusive or untrustworthy or has ulterior motives. If someone in your life is genuinely honest and loving and truthful, can you sense how open you are with them… or do you have conditions for receiving love? If a given person loves you unconditionally and completely, do you know it? Do you accept all of it or do you just let a sliver in?

One way to determine whether we are cutting off the love we receive is simply to examine our friendships and relationships. Looking at individual relationships and reflecting on how close they are and how much we feel we can share of ourselves gives us a good starting point for assessing the love we let in and the love we allow ourselves to express.

And if we find that we’re holding back a part of ourselves, something I encourage people to do is to find where the limitations lie and where they feel vulnerable. Once we know our limitations and vulnerabilities, we can choose to stretch a little beyond them and heal the parts where that stretching feels unsafe.

Also helpful for opening up is making a commitment to loving ourselves more, whether through practicing self-care or by looking at our self-talk, both in what we think and what we say. Frequently people will be very unkind to themselves, saying, “Oh, that was stupid” or “I’m really bad at that” instead of the more positive “I’m really good at this piece, and I’m going to focus on improving the other parts.” It may be surprising to realize how much negativity we can harbor, but we can receive things far better if instead of that harsh self-criticism there’s a positive focus on what we’re good at, and how we’re going to improve on the areas of opportunity.

Generally people shut people out if they fear loss or rejection. If we can dismantle the rules we’ve created for ourselves and let people in, every day will feel like there’s far more love in our lives.

Do you let your friends and your relationships fully into your heart? Would you like to live with more love but need further guidance? Please call Julie at 206.354.7090 to schedule a session.

Photo credit: I was unable to find creator of the picture

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Release Judgment to Get More Out of Experiences.

In one of my group meditations someone once told me that she felt like she was new to the practice and hence had a harder time sensing where she was holding energy. After we were no longer in a meditative state, she asked me a question and when I was giving her feedback, I inquired, “Can you feel where you’re holding energy—here and here?”

“Well,” she replied, “I can feel it here. And it’s not that I don’t believe you, but I can’t feel it in the other spot.”

“Close your eyes and focus within.”

She did, and then she said, “Oh, I can feel it now.”

I thanked her for showing everybody that sometimes you may not be able to feel something with your eyes open, but in a deeper state of focus it’s a little bit easier. “It takes practice to increase your awareness and sensitivity,” I added.

Later I learned that she had concluded that she wasn’t “advanced enough” or “evolved enough” for my class. She was comparing herself against other people’s experiences or what they had been able to do, and judging herself for her supposed lack of perception… with all of the insecurity that went with that self-judgment.

To illustrate how this wasn’t about how “experienced” or “advanced” this woman was, in the same group there was someone else who’s extremely gifted, empathetic, and really able to feel things—yet later I learned she would often experience frustration because there’s a part of her that really wants to see the energy rather than just feel it. She was caught in the judgment that seeing energy was better than feeling energy.

The fact of the matter is that wherever we are, and whatever our experience is at any given moment, it is perfect, and anytime we get stuck in comparing ourselves with others, we step out of the magic of the moment. Turning off our judgment (including judging ourselves for our self-judgment) and aligning with out heart, we can then treat everything just as information. That way, our self-doubt and tendency to compare show us where the inner opportunities exist for expansion and personal growth. And with that mindset it’s easier to have a fuller, more appreciative experience and to realize that we’re experiencing not only what is perfect but also what is ideal for us.

Photo credit:   suadoni

Changing a Critical (and Self-Critical) Nature

I have a friend who thrives on wanting to be helpful (and who, incidentally, gave permission to write about him in this blog). He’s observant, experienced and insightful, discovering and applying to his life new things all the time. The only problem is, sometimes he’s convinced that whatever has worked for him should also work for you, and insists on you taking action now. If you don’t, there’s the subtle and not-so-subtle feeling that he’s judging you for your inability or unwillingness to do as he thinks is best for you.

We all know someone like that-a parent, a friend, a partner: people who have good advice but are often a little too pushy (and a little too judgmental) with their solutions. I can recognize this person because many years ago I used to be that way, before I understood that there was more happiness in releasing the people in my life to make their own choices rather than trying to control the outcome of their experiences and being vested in whether they do or don’t do what I think is best for them.

The external desire for others to change and not accept them as they are could be a mirror of what is going on inside of us. We all are in a state of growth, expansion and change, but if the imperative to change comes from a need to control or a sense that we’re imperfect, we are like the proverbial dog, always chasing our tail: we’re never going to love ourselves fully because there’s some other way we could’ve been “better.” On the other hand, if we love ourselves completely and unconditionally, we can listen to our whole being on how to make changes from a place of love and desire to expand.

So how do you change a critical nature-even if it’s well-intentioned? Or how do you change the feelings of inadequacy if you’re on the receiving end of a critical person’s attention?

We begin accepting others as they are by accepting ourselves, without conditions. Self love is neither earned nor a reflection of our accomplishments or lack thereof. At the core of releasing a critical nature (or letting others’ judgments slide off us) lies loving ourselves more fully, deeply and unconditionally-from the heart, not from a place within the mind or ego-and really connecting with all parts of ourselves. We can be discerning and yet love ourselves: we can choose to have a different experience and take action from a sense of self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-love.

With that gentler, more loving focus, we’ll be much less likely to want to impose our solutions on others or, conversely, take on shoulds or expectations that may be perfect for someone else but not for us.

Next time you run into your critical person (outside or inside you), think of it as the way in which we remind each other to breathe deeper, be more relaxed, and love ourselves more.

Photo credit: Tony the Misfit