All Too Human
I am a flawed individual. I was reading a book from another psychologist, which made me realize that no matter what tools of the trade we are taught, we soul tenders are still all too human. We still have emotions. We still have thoughts and opinions. We still feel (well, most of us do). So how do we deal with these thoughts, feelings, and emotions that don’t serve our highest good?
One way I’ve found helpful is to meditate. Some people call it praying, others call it contemplation, but whatever you want to call it, there is scientific proof that taking time to focus on one stimulus (e.g., your breath) can produce positive changes in our lives. I try to do this twice a day (for at least 15 minutes each time): upon waking in the morning and before going to sleep at night.
In Western cultures, we are not taught to slow down from an early age in school. At least I wasn’t. We said the Pledge of Allegiance and I remember saying grace before lunchtime when I went to school in Virginia, but I was never taught how to relax and breathe or be mindful. So, being still and closing your eyes and just focusing on your breathing may not be easy in the beginning. That’s okay.
You can begin by doing it for a minute each time. Start by sitting in a quiet place, and in a comfortable position and allow your eyes to close. Then focus on nothing but your breathing (or your communication to God, or a sound, etc.). As I mentioned, you can start by doing this for just 60 seconds or however long you feel is comfortable. In time, you’ll notice you will be able to do it for longer periods of time. If you have a thought that enters your mind, say to yourself, “That’s okay. I’m going back to focusing on my breathing (if that is the stimulus you choose). One purpose of being mindful is to teach us how to be more compassionate towards ourselves. We have learned how to beat ourselves up by so many people, in so many ways. Being mindful teaches us to let go of what doesn’t serve our highest good.
Another way to bring in the feel good vibes is having a Happy Un-birthday. I know, I know. It sounds hokey, but let me explain. We have been taught not to focus on ourselves. We’re told, that’s just narcissistic and self-ish! Well, let me set you straight, unhealthy narcissism is when you rarely care for anyone other than your Self. It’s when you expect excessive admiration. It’s also when you are unwilling to identify and recognize the feelings of others. The list goes on and on. But having a Happy Un-birthday means you buy yourself the flowers that make you feel wonder-full and not wait for someone else to do that. It means you take yourself to a movie you’ve wanted to see and feel good about it. It means you put on your best hiking clothes to walk in the wilderness and be in awe with the majesty that is nature. It means celebrating YOU! And in the process you’ll begin to understand how valuable you truly are.
One of the most important ways I’ve learned to get back into an affirmative state is to have a support system. I surround myself with wise and empathetic individuals. I grew up Catholic and of course, part of Catholicism is having guilt embedded into my psyche (this is not a dig on Catholicism. There are many good things about it. But that’s a post for another day). I’ve learned to feel like I’m weak and that I’m inconveniencing others by venting to them. Why should I ruin anyone’s day by venting what bothers me to them? I’ve learned to feel bad for doing that.
My soul sister, Yvonne Moncivalles, said to me, “When people vent to me, I don’t think they’re complaining, or sick, or weak. I think they’re just trying to work out something that doesn’t make sense to them.” Nothing nourishes the soul like a friend who builds you up and really gets you. However, “building you up” doesn’t mean they agree with everything you say or do. Your true friends will tell you what you’re doing wrong. Your enemies will keep letting you be destructive. Yvonne and I have known each other for 35 years, and we made a promise to each other that if we see something not right in the other person’s life or behavior, we’ll tell each other, but know we’re doing it out of love. Love isn’t about rescuing. Rescuing doesn’t empower another to reach their potential. There’s a difference between helping and rescuing. Helping is about inspiring and motivating another to be their most awesome Self!
However, support systems go both ways. How many of you know people that will vent their heart out to you, and you give them the time and listen to all their problems? But when you need to vent to them, they either have no time for you, cut you off, or make you feel like you’re sick or inconveniencing them? When you start to recognize this happening, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship. Remember, surround yourself with people who are not just takers, but givers. Giving doesn’t just mean giving material items, but their patience, their equal time (as what you give), their wisdom, and their empathy. Surround yourself with people who give as much as you do. Your vibe attracts your tribe!
Ultimately, I’ve realized, as much as I try to be kind to people, I will offend, hurt, or upset others. Without even purposely meaning to do that, it just happens because different people have different unconscious issues, from their upbringing. Just be aware of that. And forgive yourself for being human.