Most of the shadows in this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Acknowledge common humanity- we all screw up.  We all make mistakes.  We all let people that we know and love down.  We do it on many occasions.  And so does everyone else.  It can be useful to remind yourself “everyone messes up, I am not on my own” and see if you can connect with a moment where a loved one messed up and treat yourself the same way that you treated them.

 

  • Allowing your heart, values and integrity to be your guide rather than a desire to please or placate others.  When you make choices- check in to see are these choices going to bring you closer towards who and where you want to be?  Or will these choices in fact bring you further away from who and where you want to be?

 

  • “Choose discomfort over resentment”.  I loved this saying when I first heard Dr. Brené Brown make reference to it.  Often we say yes when we really want to say no out of a sense of obligation, or no when we really want to say yes as we are hooked on some reason why we can’t do it.  These choices often give us some relief.  Yet this relief is often short-lived, quickly replaced by resentment, which unfortunately can hang around like a bad smell.

 

  • Importance of seeing and listening deeply.  Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn speaks of the importance of looking and listening deeply.  See if you can go below the surface of the situation/yourself and delve into the heart of what’s going on in situations/yourself.  He proposes that when we look at ourselves, and others, at a shallow level- we see only faults.  Yet, when we look more deeply- we are more likely to witness common humanity and the many strengths we have.

 

  • Allowing ourselves to be seen and heard deeply by others and ourselves.  It follows that it is not enough to see and hear deeply.  We also must be willing to allow ourselves to be seen and heard deeply.  Many of us, myself included, can hide behind masks.  We can find a false sense of security in only showing certain parts of ourselves for fear of rejection.  Yet, often the parts we expose are of the more shallow level, which is often judged by ourselves, and others, harshly.  And we protect and therefore hide the hidden gems within.

 

  • Recognize that our emotions and bodily sensations often hold important messages for us.  It can be useful to slow down and connect beneath the surface level of these feelings to what helpful messages they might be trying to tell us.  For example, this past week I noticed the emotion of overwhelm that was about to tip into resentment and bodily sensations in the forms of sore throat and general lethargy.  When I tuned in I could see clearly that I had overcommitted and spread myself too thin.I could also see that I wasn’t getting a sense of freedom and joy any more from these activities as I was doing things out of a sense of obligation completely disconnected from the values underlying my actions.  So I needed to make some uncomfortable moves for me, which was lightening my load by pulling back from some things.  Risking the potential to disappoint others in order to be true to my inner core values.

 

  • Acknowledge that on the journey to loving ourselves more, when engaged in fully, we may often love ourselves less temporarily.  Personally when I fully showed up to who I was- warts and all- I found this difficult.  I often found more reasons to reject myself that to accept myself.  To be willing to recognize and acknowledge this- being accepting of my non-acceptance of myself was the first important step.  Wherever you are currently is the perfect place to start putting loving fluid into your tank so you can go that extra mile, or maybe even before you can take that first step in that direction.

 

We are each gifted in a unique and important way.  It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own light.  ~Mary Dunbar