A limiting belief is created when we give an inaccurate meaning to a negative experience we had and begin to perceive life through the lens of that conclusion. Most of our negative beliefs begin forming when we are too young and unaware to understand what is happening.
For example, if as a child we ask our parents to play with us and we repeatedly hear that they have too much work to do and have no time, we may begin to feel that we are not important enough. When someone in school we like doesn’t want to be friends with us, we may reaffirm this thought that we are not good enough for someone to want to spend time with us. And later, if we decide to ask a girl out and she says no, now we probably have developed a belief that we are not worthy or likable. And we will begin to anticipate our future experiences to be like the ones we had in the past. Expecting to be rejected, in this case. And we may even stop taking chances because rejection hurts. And, of course, no one wants to be hurt.
Growing up, we may develop limiting beliefs about any aspect of our life. And unless these distorted perceptions are brought to light, analyzed, and transformed, they will continue to limit the choices we make, the opportunities we recognize and act on, and the results we achieve.
You would probably agree now that it is really important to know what our limiting beliefs are and how we can transform them into empowering beliefs instead. But why so few people do it? Here are the 4 key reasons why.
Reason #1: It is not easy to see our “blind spots.” Because the thinking process that is supposed to help us recognize these beliefs is distorted by the same beliefs. (This is where the support from a coach can make the difference between making a breakthrough or staying stuck.)
Reason #2: These beliefs were originally created by our subconscious mind to protect us from being hurt or even harmed in the future. Therefore, they are closely linked to our survival mechanism. Our subconscious mind takes it very seriously. Even though we understand with our rational mind that getting rejected by a potential mate is not a treat to our life, the subconscious mind may actually perceive it that way. So, we need to recognize this fallacy. When we feel safe, we can proceed.
Reason #3: We typically try to make changes to our perception, thinking, and behavior with our conscious mind. How else can we do it? The problem is that our conscious mind is only controlling 5% of our choices, the rest is hardwired into our subconscious mind, including our deeply held limiting beliefs. Thus we must change our subconscious mind. But how? The simple answer - through our emotions.
Reason #4: Our subconscious mind is our body. Every thought we think is being translated biochemically into an emotion or a feeling. And just like the mind remembers the thoughts as memories, the body remembers experiences as feelings. So, if you had a bad experience (rejection, betrayal, physical pain, etc…) and the brain memorized the event, the body memorized the emotion associated with that event.
Therefore, our emotions are the key to our transformation. To replace a limiting belief (with its associated emotion) with a new liberating and empowering belief, we need to generate a stronger emotion that is positive and uplifting. By repeatedly thinking new inspiring and empowering thoughts and feeling the corresponding feelings we can rewire our brain and energetically and biochemically change our body. It is like installing a new operating system. Over time, this new way of thinking, feeling, acting, and being will become the default, and we will become a new person. We will become someone for whom creating the life we always wanted would be natural and easy.
Here are 10 powerful questions that will help you to begin uncovering these hidden beliefs. Please take your time to answer these questions and be completely honest with yourself.
1 What is it that you want to have or do but something is stopping you?
2 What is it that is REALLY holding you back from doing or getting what you want?
3 This is a problem because?
4 And this means? (You may want to ask this question several times to discover all the meanings you give to this.)
5 What is it that you must believe to make this problem even exist?
6 What is it that you believe about YOURSELF that has made this a problem?
7 What do you believe about the WORLD that has made this a problem?
8 About what time in your life did you decide that this was a problem?
9 What will overcoming this problem mean to you?
10 What will life be like when you no longer have this problem?
If you would like support with getting crystal clear on all the ways you limit your success and self-expression and transform these limitations into your superpowers, consider booking a free consultation call. There are no obligations with this call.
My greatest passion is to support you in transcending your past and transforming into your True Self. I work in many disciplines, combining profound mystical wisdom with advanced findings in neuroscience and physics to help you reconnect with and live from your Greatness, fully express your Magnificence and create a deeply satisfying life of peace, joy, harmony, love, and abundance, while fulfilling your destiny.
I offer many powerful tools and proven methods for profound transformation and continuous evolution. I base my work on extensive knowledge gained over almost two decades; my own experience of overcoming severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks, numerous limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors; and successfully helping my clients over years to transcend, transform and thrive as their True Selves.
“Intuition is the whisper of the Soul.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Our intuition is one of our mental and spiritual faculties that connects us to infinite Universal Intelligence. Mary Morrissey, a well-known author, and teacher describes intuition as our non-linear intelligence system. It has access to knowledge, she says, that could not be known through the logical and rational mind. It is often called our sixth sense. This still small voice is never fearful or anxious, but calm and all-knowing. One way to distinguish it from the other voices – that can sound like us but, in reality, are the voices of our mother or father, or someone whose opinion matters to us – is that there is never a trace of fear in it.
And Shakti Gawain, a New Age author and philosopher, said: “There is a universal intelligent life force that exists within everyone and everything. It resides within each one of us as deep wisdom, an inner knowing. We can access this wonderful source of knowledge and wisdom through our intuition, an inner sense that tells us what feels right and true for us at any given moment.”
This is the same intelligence that is responsible for all creation, the consciousness underlying all existence. Its greatest “desire” is to continuously create and express itself through infinite forms. Therefore, it is always “working” toward expansion and fuller expression. Through our intuition, we can access this infinite intelligence, align ourselves with the direction of its evolving nature which knows what choice will be the most expansive and beneficial for us at any time in order to succeed in fulfilling our desires. Because, ultimately, our desires are the desires of the Greater Mind expressed and experienced through and as us.
Although we are all born with a natural gift of intuition, we can strengthen our “intuition muscle” further with certain practices. Here are some suggestions on how we can do it:
1. Learn to recognize the voice of your intuition. One way to distinguish it from other voices is that it always speaks from love and never from fear. If there is any feeling of anxiety or criticism in it, this is not your intuition speaking.
2. The “still small voice” of our intuition is quiet and can be easily ignored. Take the time in your day to slow down and pay attention to it. It is always talking to you. The more you listen to it, the louder it will begin to speak.
3. Pay attention to the subtle feelings in your body. Although intuition may speak to you as thoughts, images, or a voice, there is typically a sensation associated with it in your body. It is often referred to as the “gut feeling” because you feel it in your gut, which has his own “brain.” This “gut-brain” is what the scientists call the enteric nervous system or ENS. It consists of 100 million nerve cells lining our gastrointestinal tract.
4. Connect to your intuition in meditation. When we quiet the chatter in mind, it becomes much easier to hear the voice of our inner wisdom.
5. The best way to build our intuition muscle is to trust our hunches and act on them. When we see the benefits of following this voice, we will do it more confidently the next time. Soon, we will begin consulting our intuition before we make any important decisions.
6. Ask yourself a question and pay attention to the very first feeling. Try not to think for a few seconds. Tune into your body. How does it feel? Does it feel contracted? Or do you feel a pleasant sensation? Be attentive, these sensations can be very subtle.
A good question to ask yourself is: “Is this mine to do?” The intuitive answer could be a clear “yes” or a clear “no.” If the answer is unclear, ask yourself, “Is this mine to do now?” Sometimes we know that it is the right thing to do but now is not the right time.
7. And finally, use journaling to improve your communication with your subconscious and superconscious minds. It also helps us to capture our great creative ideas and insights. As a result, we will have more of them. Creativity is one of intuition’s favorite languages.
Our heart is another great portal to our inner wisdom. You can learn more about the wisdom of the heart and how to access it here.
We may believe that our brain is our control center and imagine ourselves residing in our head and looking at the world through our eyes. Yet whenever we point to ourselves, we don’t point to our head; we point to our heart. Why is that? Is it possible that our heart is not just an organ that pumps blood through the body as many tend to believe but actually is the seat of our soul as the mystics call it?
Some traditions believe that it is actually the heart that connects the physical aspect of ourselves to our spiritual essence. For example, in the seven chakra model, the heart chakra, Anahata is considered the bridge between the three lower chakras of our physical manifestation and the three higher chakras of our spiritual dimension, and therefore our source of intuition and our access point to the Universal Intelligence. But this is far from being just a mystical concept.
The HeartMath Institute in Northern California has been researching the heart and the heart-mind connection for over twenty-five years. They made some profound discoveries, the most important of which is the state of heart coherence and its incredible benefits.
Psycho-physiological coherence or simply heart coherence is a state of synchronization of our heart, mind, emotions, and the nervous system. It is achieved by rhythmic breathing and focusing on positive emotions like gratitude, love, and compassion. It is important to note that the state of heart coherence is not just a state of relaxation. It can include relaxation, but its distinctive feature is the entrainment between the heart and the brain, which creates a level of global organization in the body that the state of relaxation alone does not. This is the optimal state that allows us to tap into the wisdom of our heart to receive answers, guidance, and connect with others in the most profound way.
Doc Childre, the founder of HeartMath Institute, describes it as “the flow of higher awareness, wisdom, and intuition we experience when the mind and emotions are brought into synchronistic alignment with the heart.”
Here are some facts about the heart that will help us better understand its role:
It is this state that many meditation techniques are trying to achieve, without even knowing it. Being in the state of heart coherence not only creates a resonance between our heart and mind but also between people. The science behind it may explain why mass meditation and group prayer with a specific intention can be so powerful.
Negative emotions, such as fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, impatience, etc. cause incoherence in our heart, which over time can lead to mental, emotional and physical health problems. Practicing the state of heart coherence consistently even for 5-10 minutes a day is shown to reverse the effects of mental and emotional problems and increase longevity, resilience, cognitive flexibility, memory, immune function, intuition, happiness; improve problem-solving, job performance and achievement.
Here is a simple technique to create a state of heart coherence:
Our heart is much more than just a pump. It has the wisdom to guide us through our every challenge and the power to create a life of love, authenticity and true happiness. So, I invite you to stay coherent and listen to your heart – it knows the way.
Daniel Amen, M.D., Doc Childre, Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., Rollin McCraty, Ph.D. HeartMath Brain Fitness Program: Connecting Heart and Mind for Optimal Performance.
Doc Childre, Howard Martin, Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., Rollin McCraty, Ph.D. Heart Intelligence: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart.
"There are two mistakes one can make along the road to Truth – not going all the way, and not starting."
When I discovered the Law of Attraction back in 2006, I was thrilled. This mystical “law” promised to make all my dreams come true if I only learned how to use it. Excited about the possibilities, I started studying it, even though I was a little skeptical. It seemed too simple, too good to be true. But I really wanted it to work, as I was struggling with many personal challenges at the time.
My newly acquired knowledge was soon put into practice and tested in the laboratory of my life. Increased confidence and a more positive outlook on life came to me very quickly, and I felt happier than I did in a long time, anticipating all my desires to manifest with little effort on my part. And although I was able to achieve some positive results, shortly after I encountered a huge disappointment. I found myself facing one of the most significant “problems” I ever experienced, and I just couldn’t take responsibility for its creation. It made no sense. This should not have happened according to what I’ve learned, or at least, according to the way I understood it.
My skeptical mind started questioning this “law” and doubting everything I have ever read or heard on the subject. Soon, my newly established belief system crumbled under the weight of harsh “facts,” as it was not grounded in the Truth – as I learned later – and my understanding of how Reality worked was somewhat superficial. I felt betrayed by God, The Cosmic Mind, The Universe. Since I had no support on this matter at that early stage of my journey, I fell into the Dark Night of the Soul, hopeless and confused. This lasted five extremely challenging years.
But it was this pain of utter despair that forced me to look deeper for answers. I turned to meditation and mindfulness. From Buddhist teachers I learned to surrender; from Eckhart Tolle, I learned to live in the NOW. While these gave me some comfort over the next few years, I never felt truly satisfied, as I knew I wasn’t actively participating in the unfoldment of my destiny and hence not being true to myself. I knew deep in my heart that I was a powerful creator and yet my earlier disappointment and my natural skepticism made me wary of any teaching about manifestation.
I wanted to know the Truth. In fact, I had to know it. So, I started to explore once again. Having no mentor, I trusted my intuition to guide me through the maze of information sources. I read any book and listened to any teacher that potentially could offer the key to uncovering the mysteries of existence. I explored psychology, meditation, energy healing, psi phenomena and alternative sources of information on history, extraterrestrial civilizations, “conspiracy theories,” and many other subjects. I also became interested in cutting-edge science and the discoveries it made that could shine light on the true nature of Reality. Having grown up in a family with primarily atheistic views, where science was trusted to provide the answers, this was important to satisfy my inner skeptic.
After studying several Unified Physics models (physics that combine Quantum Field Theory and Theory of Relativity) for several years, while simultaneously reading books on Mental Science and New Thought philosophy that inner skeptic was permanently silenced. I was amazed yet not surprised to realize that these two seemingly opposing methods of inquiry were describing exactly the same Intelligent Universe.
This was not a coincidence. It was the Truth – the Truth about Reality. I finally started finding my answers; one by one all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into their places, and they fit together perfectly! And when I not only understood but embodied this knowledge and started to live from it every day by applying the powerful tools for transformation (discussed in this book), things began to change in unimaginable ways. But I knew that what was happening was not only possible but perfectly normal once we understood the nature of Reality and the power of our subconscious mind. My life in all its expressions began to unfold in the most beautiful ways. I have no other words to describe this experience but Real Magic.
This is what I’ve learned from my experience – we are all magicians, and our subconscious mind is our magic wand. In this book we will see how understanding the Universal principles of creation and learning how to masterfully apply them in our daily affairs will enable us to create Real Magic. Real Magic is our natural superhuman ability to manifest miracles in our lives by the virtue of using our innate creative power that is locked in our subconscious mind – our share of the Universal Mind.
Uncovering the secrets of the Universe can be a daunting task. In an effort to simplify this endeavor I divided this work into three parts. In Part One we will look at why and how Real Magic works. For this, we will have to dive deeper into the structure and dynamics of spacetime and learn how the mystical activity of the Spirit gives birth to the material Universe and everything in it. We will see how different
mystics, philosophers and scientists described the same One Mind, Infinite Intelligence, or God, despite the different verbiage they used. We will discover the answers to questions: What is Reality made of? How is everything connected? Did life appear as a result of random events or was it intelligently created? What is our place as humans in the Universe, and do we create our reality? I will juxtapose ideas from the greatest mental and spiritual scientists and most recent findings in unified physics, to show how the same phenomena can be viewed from different perspectives, with both being accurate and valuable.
In Part Two we will learn powerful ways to implement this understanding in our daily activities to live in alignment with the Absolute Truth and the Universal principles of creation and expansion. We will reveal the hidden powers of our subconscious mind and see how it is our most important manifestation tool. I will provide practical techniques discovered and developed by experts in the fields of spiritual and personal development, that anyone can use to start creating their own Magical Life today.
In Part Three explanations will be offered for the reasons why this Magic may not appear to work sometimes and how we can avoid getting in our own way to success. The Universal Law is an unfailing law. The ability to use this Law is often considered a supernatural power, yet when we truly grasp the way it works, we realize this is the most natural way to be in life.
Are you ready to create some Real Magic?
Get the full book here: The Art & Science of Real Magic
This is Part II of this article. You can read Part I here.
One more common way we may appear to invite bad things into our life is by stating who we want to become while having no idea what kind of a path we will have to travel to get there. Deep in our heart, we all want to grow and evolve - it is our nature as an incarnation of this ever-expanding Life. While we all may wish for our paths to be smooth and easy, there is no learning and hence no growing without challenges. Only in retrospect, looking at our journey, it becomes clear to us that each difficulty we resisted so much at the time was the perfect stepping stone that brought us where we were meant to be.
And lastly, we unconsciously invite bad things by not choosing otherwise. Even before we were born, some things were set in motion for us by our karma and possibly choices made before this incarnation (according to some teachings), our ancestors, our genes, our environment, etc. Life is infinitely complex, and no one knows what kind of events had happened and what decisions have been made in the past that created a chain of reactions whose inertia continues to affect us today. All of these as well as the people and circumstances in our lives continue to influence us. And if we are not using our creative power consciously and deliberately, we may become victims of these "forces" by default. But again, we have the power to choose our thoughts, our feelings, and actions NOW and by doing so, we are laying a new path for ourselves, one conscious step at a time. This may or may not protect us from every adverse event, and some things that were “meant to happen” will still happen but living consciously certainly will allow us to create the best possible life we can have. I like to call it "living to the extent of our free will."
The purpose of life is not just seeking the pleasant and avoiding the unpleasant experiences but growing and evolving into more and more of who we are by going through these experiences, both good and bad.
All our desires, conscious or unconscious is the Universal desire to express more life. Yet we have the “free will” to use our individual creative power in a distorted and limited way with adverse consequences and suffer or thrive by expressing our full potential as the one-of-a-kind manifestation of this Magnificent Dance of Life. When we connect to the Universal Omniscience that speaks to us through our intuition and take conscious, inspired actions, we inevitably become the Masterpiece we were meant to be.
Perhaps one of the most common and difficult questions metaphysical teachers are asked is: If God is love then why do bad things happen to good people? Does God care, or even, is there God? This is certainly one of the main subjects of metaphysical studies, but to attempt to answer these questions, we will have to look deep into the nature of God, Creation, and Existence. While it is a worthwhile exploration, and I’d love to share more about it in one of my upcoming articles, here I would like to explain some of the ways we attract these “bad things” into our lives, and what we can do to change it.
Ernest Holmes, the founder of the New Thought philosophy, calls it “unconsciously inviting” accidents, illness, and all kinds of adverse experiences.
One of the ways we do it is by repeatedly imagining a situation unfolding in a way we don’t want it to in order to be prepared for it. So, in efforts to save ourselves from an undesirable experience, we allow this scenario to play on our mental screen, evoking strong negative feelings. This, of course, is happening unintentionally and unconsciously, but as a result, we often end up creating exactly what we were trying to avoid! Although it can be useful to be prepared for things not going the way we want them to, we also need to remember that we are powerful creative beings and the images we play in our mind with strong emotions associated with them tend to manifest into reality. The reason for it is that our subconscious mind does not discriminate between good and bad thoughts. It is a creative medium through which our desires, intentions, and deep-seated beliefs come to life.
In Metaphysical literature, this medium is often described by using the analogy of the soil. Just like the soil does not refuse any seeds and will grow whatever we plant, so will our subconscious mind materialize any thoughts we allow to take root in it. It will bring into life happy as well as unhappy events just as the soil will bring into life a delicious rose or a poison oak equally. So, it is our responsibility to be conscious of the atmosphere of our innermost world. The emotions evoked by habitual thoughts and images that flow through our being determine the default frequency of our energy, which will attract experiences of the same frequency. This is known as the Law of Attraction.
Another way we unconsciously invite bad things into our life is by unconsciously trying to avoid something that deep in our mind we may consider threatening to our survival. On the conscious level, this threat may not make sense or even seem absurd, but our subconscious mind or our old brain processes things differently when it comes to performing its most important job - maintaining our survival.
For example, if we are to give a public presentation, something we may find terrifying, even if in the case of failure, the only thing that will be in danger is our self-esteem and certainly not our life, our subconscious mind can be interpreting it as a threat to our survival and make us sick or get into an accident in order to prevent us from the possibility of being publicly humiliated. In this case, we want to be aware of all the underlying fears and take care of them, either by releasing or embracing them before we take the actions, so we don't inadvertently cause ourselves unnecessary suffering.
Life is beautiful. Indeed it is. And yet at times, the challenges that are meant to help us grow and evolve become overwhelming and instead make us feel inadequate and powerless. The truth is that most of us haven't been taught how to deal with them effectively. Growing up we develop coping mechanisms to handle them, but as the nature of the difficulties we face changes, these coping mechanisms often stop working. Some only offer temporary relief, without providing solutions; and some can turn into addictions, and become distractive and dangerous. While there are many ways we can improve our experiences - from changing the situation to changing how we relate to it - and there are numerous techniques and approaches for both - it is beyond the scope of this article. My intent here is to share some simple practices that can help us navigate through difficult times with more ease while building resilience for the future.
Having struggled with severe anxiety, panic attacks and depression for many years, I tried many approaches to overcome these debilitating reactions my mind and body had to stress. It has been a long journey of self-discovery and healing. I learned a lot, had profound insights and developed skills that transformed my life. I went from struggling to make through the day, often resisting every minute of it to embracing every moment with love and appreciation. Here are a few of the things that made a huge difference for me and from my research and work with others also helped many to overcome similar challenges.
Breathe . . .
Just by changing our breathing, even for a few minutes, we can affect how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally. The depth of our inhalation determines the amount of oxygen that reaches our brain and can dramatically affect the way it functions. Our breathing rhythm also affects our heart rate, which constantly sends messages to our brain. Based on these messages either the sympathetic branch of our nervous system will become activated, preparing us for a flight of fight, or the parasympathetic – putting our body into a restoration and healing mode. Therefore, by changing our breathing, we can change how our mind and body function.
Here is an easy breathing exercise for relaxation:
- It's always good to keep the chest open, and the belly relaxed to accommodate deep breathing.
- Start with exhaling all the air out, before attempting to take a deep breath in. When we are stressed, we often don't breathe out completely, which makes it impossible to inhale deeply.
- As you exhale, relax the body as much as possible and continue relaxing throughout the exercise. - Breathe into your relaxed belly for 6 counts, hold it for 3 then exhale slowly for 8-10 counts.
- You can choose to exhale through the mouth for a stronger effect.
- Continue breathing and relaxing for 3-5 minutes or more.
- When we are stressed, it will be almost impossible to quiet our mind, but do your best to keep your attention either on the flow of the air in and out or the increasing feeling of relaxation in the body.
- If your awareness wanders, gently bring it back to your body and how different it feels with every round of breathing.
- If you have a lot of tension in the body it might be difficult to relax, and you may even find it to be frustrating. But please continue consciously letting go of tension on the top and bottom of every breath, and soon you'll feel the relief. Be loving and gentle with your body. I would suggest to read the next two points and keep them in mind while doing this exercise.
Stay present . . .
When going through a difficult time and feeling overwhelmed, try to stay focused on the present moment as much as possible. Not just while meditating but throughout the day and night, until the stressful situation is resolved. What does it mean to be present? It simply means to observe what is happening at this moment without any mental commentary about what it means. Only the detached awareness of what is taking place. Keep the mind in the “now” as much as possible and only allow it to go into the past or the future when it's absolutely necessary as when you need to take care of an urgent matter or plan an action to change the situation, for example. Keeping our awareness in the present moment counteracts rumination, which according to neuroscience leads to anxiety and depression. Remember that there's hardly ever a time in our life when this moment is unacceptable, it is the interpretation that we give to what is happening and what it means that makes it into a problem. Which really means that problems only exist in our minds. In reality, there is a situation that needs a solution, or acceptance or both. Here is a good reminder that can be helpful - "Don't believe everything you think." Because a thought that we absolutely believe today might become completely meaningless tomorrow. Which brings us to our next point. . .
This too shall pass . . .
Remind yourself that nothing is permanent. Reality can appear as real and solid, but it's an illusion. Everything changes all the time - some things quickly, some things slowly. Sometimes it seems that there is no solution to the situation we are in, that everything is falling apart and life will never be good again. These are certainly the kind of thoughts that you don't want to believe. Even if you can't see any realistic solution to the situation at the moment, know that trauma, stress and mental exhaustion limit our cognitive function and prevent us from seeing all the possibilities. Just by practicing a breathing technique and relaxation our perspective regarding the problem can change dramatically.
I would also recommend reading my earlier posts: The Power of Self-Compassion and Tapping into the Wisdom of our Heart.
- In Part II we will discuss how practicing mindfulness meditation can help during difficult times by cultivating three powerful skills: concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity.
- We will learn how to use affirmations and affirmative prayer to change our subconscious beliefs that are the real cause of our suffering.
- And also how to ask for help without feeling needy or incapable.
How do you feel about yourself when you see others who may be smarter, better looking, and more successful, enjoy their seemingly fun and carefree lives? And know that no matter how hard you try and whatever you achieve, someone will always be doing it better? It is so easy to feel “not good enough” or even unworthy in our overly competitive society. While it is natural to wish to feel special, or at least above average, is it realistic for everyone to be above average?
In our connected world, we no longer merely compare ourselves to our siblings and peers, but also to the strangers, whose beautiful faces look back at us from the pages of the glamour magazines, TV and social media, challenging our self-worth. When we realize that we can never have that face or that body, or that amount of money, or that lifestyle, we try to relieve our sense of failure, often with unhealthy behaviors. In fact, millions of people take drugs on a daily basis just to cope with the feelings of frustration and discontent. We beat ourselves up for our flaws and try to diminish others’ good attributes to increase our sense of self-worth. But these temporary emotional “fixes” over time cost us our peace, our ability to express ourselves authentically, and our relationships with others.
Although the times when our sense of worthiness is challenged can certainly serve as a catalyst for positive change and personal development, in our culture we grew to believe that we need to be hard on ourselves for that to happen. The truth is that continuous self-criticism drains our energy and blocks our creativity and optimism. As a result, it makes us less capable of overcoming life’s difficulties and robs us of the opportunities to grow into who we really are. Moreover, the more we see ourselves in this light, the more we will act as this incapable, unworthy person, and the more the results we produce will reinforce this unfavorable self-image. Is there a better solution for this human affliction?
Self-compassion is the practice of being kind to ourselves. It is founded on the understanding that suffering is a natural part of human experience. We all go through hardships in our lives, at some point or another, for one reason or another. Self-compassion is not the same as self-pity. Whereas self-pity feeds our sense of failure and victimization, self-compassion, on the other hand, helps us find strength in our shared humanness.
Maxwell Maltz, a successful plastic surgeon and a great expert on the human psyche, in his book Psycho-Cybernetics writes that at least 95 percent of people have some sense of inferiority, which is not based on facts. We all excel at some things and not at others. This is only natural. The belief in our unworthiness, hence, is coming from our habit of judging our worth by measuring ourselves not against our own “norm,” but against others’ “norm,” and always finding ourselves not to be good enough. This erroneous idea makes us feel insecure and unworthy to freely express our own nature and create the kind of life we desire.
Many try to overcome their inferiority complex and feel good about themselves by trying to become superior to others. But this striving often causes them more suffering and frustration and can even lead to neurosis. The truth is that we are neither superior nor inferior to anyone. Each one of us is a unique individual, and we are all special in our own ways.
Kristin Neff, a psychology professor and author, shares some of the findings from her research on self-esteem in her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. She writes that although we are all well aware of the importance of having high self-esteem, the field of psychology is coming to realize that self-esteem is not the “ultimate marker of positive mental health.” They discovered that people when trying to keep a sense of high self-esteem often fall into the traps of narcissism, self-righteous anger, prejudice, discrimination, etc. The author suggests that self-compassion is a perfect alternative to self-esteem. It provides the same protection against self-criticism, without us having to be better than others or measure up to some ideal.
It is undoubtedly true that there are times when our extreme frustration with our certain "weakness" can force us to take decisive steps in changing our behavior and our circumstances. Be it finally deciding to change our diet and lose those extra pounds because we are disgusted with what we see in the mirror; leaving a relationship that isn’t healthy for us, which we were too afraid to leave; or, unsatisfied with our occupation, decide to go back to school and study what we’re really passionate about, even if we think we’re too old for that. Yes, unfortunately, many people need to reach the point of utter desperation or even self-hatred in order to make a change. And, although, the harsh self-criticism sometimes leads to a significant transformation, this approach is hardly sustainable and comes at a high price of lost peace of mind, constant sense of discontent, and the fear of failure.
What if we make a decision to be kind to ourselves by remembering the universality of human suffering? We can save all that time and energy we would have spent on judging ourselves and ruminating about our failures, which over time can lead to depression and anxiety, and instead invest it in self-development? What if we can choose to come back to our center and connect with our deeper Truth? And then, decide to meet our every experience of failure or unworthiness with an open heart and deep compassion and use it as an opportunity not to compete with others but to evolve and express the gift of our uniqueness. Then, our critic can become our friend and mentor, and every difficulty – a stepping stone to a deeper awareness and more authentic and fulfilling experiences.
We are not here to be better than others; we are here to be all we can be. By practicing self-compassion, we can release resentment and jealousy toward others, transform self-judgment into inner guidance, and free our mind from incessant ruminations. Self-compassion is not an excuse to be lazy or selfish, but it is giving ourselves permission to tend to our deeper needs and heal so we can participate in life more fully and grow to our highest potential.
Maxwell Maltz. Psycho-Cybernetics
Kristin Neff, Ph.D. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
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