Tis the season for giving! So how about giving yourself the BEST gift ever? No, I’m not talking about that Chanel handbag you secretly covet. Would you believe this is even better than a luxury handbag, two-week all-expenses paid trip to Tuscany or a hot little number of the automotive variety sitting in your driveway? Unfortunately, this gift cannot be purchased in a store. Heck, if it were only that easy! So what is this fabulous, life-changing gift? Self-trust.
How do you know if you need to go shopping for your own self-trust? Ask yourself is any of the following sound familiar:
You constantly seek the opinion of others before making a decision- from anything as profound as what career you should follow to wondering if these pants make your butt look fat.
You calculate your choices based on what you believe other people think.
You wonder why other don’t see the contributions you make and feel angry and ignored.
You often feel lost, wondering if you are on the right path for your life.
You feel a low-level sense of unhappiness, as if the sun is right behind the clouds but never quite comes out.
You find yourself looking back on your life and wishing you had made other choices.
You fear the future….big time.
I can hear your arguments now. Yes, if we never cared about what others think of us, wouldn’t that make one a sociopath? Yes, of course you are right. I’m talking about Balance. Do you worry MORE about the opinions of others? Do you CONSTANTLY look back with regrets? If you tip toward the extreme in the list above, it’s time to go get yourself some Self-Trust for Christmas!
But first, it helps to know how we got here. If you are like me, you grew up in a household where obedience was survival. In my home, critical thinking was discouraged as independent children are much more difficult to raise. The Parental Units were so wrapped up in their own personal drama, they had little time or emotional energy left over for their children. Kids who are neglected and ignored (or are actively told to obey unthinkingly) get the message that their thoughts/ideas/dreams cannot be trusted…which is a recipe for disaster when those kids reach adulthood. In a healthy home, children are listened to and encouraged to think. No, they don’t always get their own way, but they are engaged so they can develop critical thinking regarding their choices. Children are allowed to take calculated risks so they are able to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment. Being heard and valued, and being encouraged to explore their ideas and dreams, teach a child they have intrinsic value and they can trust themselves as they move into the future. These are the children who grow into confident adults who seem to unerringly chart their own path in Life.
So, what do you do if you were locked in your room when Self-Trust was being handed out? Why, go get yourself some! And it’s not as hard as you might think! Well actually, it is easy and hard at the same time. This is what has worked for me.
The first thing to really grok and deeply believe is that everyone knows what is best for themselves right here and right now. Yes, I can hear you snorting. I remember the first time a therapist told me that. Seriously, I laughed out loud! Yeah, right? However, it turns out she was exactly right. It’s all the static in our heads that keeps us from hearing our own still, small voice. Static as in those messages from the past that stop us in our tracks: “You’re too fat to be a flight attendant. Why can’t you be smart like your brother? I’m going to tell everyone you like Country/Opera/Enya and they’re all going to laugh at you! What makes you think you’re so smart? You’re just like your father- useless.” And so on and on ad nauseum. Look, all those voices are a LIE. You came into this world with everything you need. You ARE smart, wise, kind, funny, compassionate, clever, all of it! You just forgot because you kept hearing falsehoods from when you were a baby. Don’t believe me? Have you ever really watched a baby? One of the greatest things about babies is how they simply light up with joy when they are happy and melt into sorrow when they are sad. They are a pure expression of themselves. And no, we cannot have a meltdown at work when we are having a bad day, but that blocking off of our truth is what blocks us from our Trust and our True Life. As adults we eat, drink, smoke, tv, exercise, sex, busy away the feelings when our feelings are the route to our Truth. They are trying to tell us something….just like the baby who cries when he is hungry or hurting, our sadness is trying to tell us something as well! So after you accept and believe that you already have the Truth you need deep inside you, the next step is to LISTEN. As I pointed out, that is the hard part as the constant negative chatter keeps us from hearing our Truth- the greatest good buried deep inside ourselves.
Chatter. This is why all the great spiritual traditions promote meditation. It dials down the volume on the static. Now if my peace-of-mind depended on me being able to do this perfectly, I’d be a lost soul. Give up on perfect. ANY efforts will yield results. And like anything, with practice, you get better. They key is to start, do a little every day, and don’t give up. After a while, thoughts will bubble up that “feel” like a cool drink of water and- voila- you are hearing YOUR Truth, the part of you that will not lead you astray. And for those with a spiritual bent, I personally ascribe to the Jungian concept that we are all little sparks off the Great Spark, that we are all interconnected by the Divine which resides inside each one of us. In other words, that still, small voice is the Divine and who better to Trust than the Holy Spirit? Win!
Here’s the dirt on shutting down the chatter! Any and all of the following meditation practices work. I often walk and meditate as it helps me to feel the connection with the Great Spirit when I am outdoors, but do what works for you!
Idea No. 1: Sit or lay comfortably. Close your eyes and tell yourself there is no wrong way to do this. Now focus on your breath. Feel the air as it comes in through your nose and works its way down your throat into your lungs. just pay attention to the sound, the feeling in your body, the sensations. Breathe slowly in, hold the breath for a moment, and release the breath out. Some people count 5-5-5-5 for watch portion of the breath cycle, but do NOT force this. Yes, the chatter is going to come roaring back. Just notice it without judging and go back to watching your breath. That’s it! Start with 5 minutes. If it helps you to not feel overwhelmed, set a timer. After a while, you will find yourself increasing the time by choice. When the timer goes off, gently open your eyes, take another deep breath and go back to your day. If you want more info, do an internet search for “Centering Prayer.” There are a considerable amount of free resources.
Idea No. 2: This is a great method if you are stuck at a desk in front of a computer during the day. It can be done in less than three minutes. Ready? Set your Outlook to go off hourly (or just use a timer to remind you.) When the timer goes off, close your eyes and take three deep slow breaths. Now ask yourself, how do I feel? Happy? Sad? Guilty? Afraid? Secure? Proud? Angry? Grateful? If you can’t remember any feelings, write down the list and put it under your keyboard to help jog your memory. Now when you ask yourself how you feel, look for the feelings in your body. Is your stomach tight? Are your shoulders in knots? Try to feel your legs, your back, your throat. WHERE are the feelings inside your body? They are there waiting to tell you your truth. Now just acknowledge the feeling gently, take another breath and go back to work. No, you do not have to DO anything about the feeling. You are just noticing it and being kind to yourself. DO NOT JUDGE. Why does this work? It stops your chatter obviously, but it also is another way to tell yourself you are worthy of being heard….which creates a deep feeling of safety and trust. If you choose this method, you will find that after three of four days of checking in hourly, you have the most amazing well of peace inside. And yes, I have this and can attest to its effectiveness. It seriously rocks!
Idea No. 3: Go for a walk. Leave the cell phone at home or at the very least, put it into a pocket and don’t take it out. Now as you go about your walk, try to acutely listen to everything. Every single thing. Guess what? Birds are singing, grass is being mowed, tires are crunching through snow, branches in the trees are softly rustling against one another in the breeze, your feet are scuffling, dogs are yipping….and after a while you will even be able to hear televisions and phones ringing inside homes as you pass them. It’s amazing what we miss because of the chatter! Again, do not judge yourself when you find your attention being drawn inward by the chatter. Just acknowledge it and turn your focus back to listening to the sounds of your walk.
Idea No. 4: Ho’oponopono. I love this meditation and the idea behind it although I want to say right up front, that it may not be your cup-o-tea. When I was first exposed to it, I really (really, really) disagreed with it, but have since changed my mind. In brief, ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian/Polynesian island spiritually practice that believes that all illness in self or society is caused by our collective wrong-doing (sin/pain/use what you prefer). If we believe that we are all connected through the great Spirit (Higher Power, God, Allah), that our separateness is an illusion, then the logical extension is that our personal sinfulness can manifest (sorry, I hate that word, but it fits in this instance) in others. In other words, we are all responsible for one another at some energetic or spiritual level. As such the forgiveness practice consists of repeating as a mantra “Father, I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” for 10 to 15 minutes. It helps to do the mantra in time with your breath. By the way, this is not a guilt-tripping practice, a specialty reserved for Catholics (of which I am intimately acquainted.) God doesn’t need our love, our contrition, our thanks. WE NEED our sorrow, our contrition, our forgiveness and our thanks and ho-oponopono seeks to bring about forgiveness and healing in a very gentle way. Again, if it’s not your thing, no worries, I included it because I find it comforting. If you want more info, check out the Wikipedia entry and the following free website: http://www.thereisaway.org/Ho%27oponopono_cleaning_meditation.htm
The key point regardless of what method you use is do NOT overthink this. This isn’t a contest. You aren’t being measured or weighed. There is no one way that is best for everybody. The key is to be gentle with yourself and do not judge. With some practice, the chatter will quiet. In the quiet you will find YOU and you will know that all will be well. You realize you CAN trust yourself. Hey! You had the Mojo ALL along! Now THAT is one heck of a gift!