Happy Thursday friends! I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July weekend. I enjoyed spending time with family and friends, watching fireworks blast off in the night sky, and consuming lots of unhealthy food and cocktails. By the end of the long weekend I felt exhausted, worn out, and drained. Typically, I would go hard on myself for over-indulging. That part of my internal dialogue – the part that judges and criticizes myself harshly is really a drag. This part of myself is convinced there is something really wrong with me, that I am a bad person, and that I deserve to be locked in a dark cave somewhere. When I am not in that space, I can clearly see that those sentiments are not true. This delusional blabbering about my perceived imperfections is something Carl Jung called a “shadow”. We live with our shadow, or unconscious part of our personality, and it is a part of ourselves that remains mostly hidden until it starts to reveal itself in ways we might not understand. Once we can see it, and we are aware when it is operating, we can begin to heal it. So this particular “shadow aspect” of myself is something I have recently become aware of and have started to work with. When I see this part of myself activate, I want to numb out, isolate, or disconnect. Basically I don’t want to deal with it and I definitely don’t want other people to see it because I think it sucks. It is a part of myself I do not like. The interesting thing is that behavior is exactly what keeps the shadow intact. And this ties right into the work I am doing on mindfulness and self-compassion.
In the course I am doing on courageworks.com (http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown), they discuss something called “Common Humanity”. Common Humanity is an incredibly powerful tool when you’re stuck in the vortex of self-loathing and self-criticism. According to Kristen Neff, “The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect, that we are all fallible.” This piece is crucial to seeing that you are not the only one who feels the way you do no matter how bad you feel. I know I am not the only one who felt overall low and tired after the long weekend of celebration. My entire office on Tuesday was in full on zombie mode.
Another tool that’s really helpful for me when I get caught up in my delusions is asking the question, ‘would I treat another person the way I treat myself?’ And the answer is always NO. If a friend of mine said “man, I feel like total crap for eating and drinking too much over the weekend” I’d say “give yourself a break/ that’s totally what you’re supposed to do on a holiday/ it’s in the past so move forward with your healthfulness now”. So why would I treat myself differently? Am I not deserving of my own kindness and compassion? Of course I am! But when I isolate myself, I assume that no one feels the way I do, that I am alone, and worst of all, that no one would understand me. So this piece of common humanity and connecting with others- through our perceived imperfections- is really a great way to lift yourself up out of that icky mud puddle of self-criticism. We are all imperfect and talking about our shared imperfection is a great way to heal our own self-judgements and connect to others that judge themselves also.
THE DARE: What are some ways you judge yourself? What are some of the things you pick on yourself for? What would you say to a friend or a child who felt the same way? How can you offer yourself the same kind of tenderness and compassion? Can you courageously share a part of yourself you don’t like with a close friend? As we build more love and compassion for ourselves, we can accept ourselves more fully. We can re-claim our freedom and release ourselves from old beliefs patterns that do not serve us.