Monthly Archives: July 2013

Loving yourself - woman in mirror

Already Worth Loving: Giving Yourself Permission To Be Imperfect

“If I wait until I am perfect before I love myself, then I will waste my whole life. I am already perfect right here and right now.”

That affirmation, which comes from a deck of Louise Hay “Wisdom Cards” that I keep on my desk, can serve as an important reminder to so many of us.

That’s because perfectionism is pandemic in our culture. Many people continue to put off loving and approving of themselves until they lose the next 10 pounds or jump the next hurdle (earning another degree, getting out of debt, making a certain salary, becoming a parent, etc.).

Maybe they had the experience growing up that receiving love was conditional on certain criteria: looking a certain way or making the right grades. They could have been pushed too hard by their parents to be perfect and heavily criticized for not attaining that mastery.

Forging Ahead

Those imprints from childhood can have a lasting effect. Later in life, perfectionist streaks can sometimes stop people in their tracks before they even leave the starting gate in certain areas of their lives (the fear of “What if I’m not good enough?”).

Some people don’t feel comfortable attempting any activity unless they have a fair certainty that they’ll excel. Maybe they want to write a book or start a business (but unrealistically feel like they have to get it right the first time with no revisions or shifts in strategy).

I once had a very wise, talented Reiki student who wanted to leave the computer field to start a healing practice incorporating his extensive knowledge of meditation, hypnosis and other energywork disciplines (T’ai Chi and Chi Gong). But he labored over developing the perfect system in his mind so much that he never got around to really working with anybody.

I advised him: “Start with one or two services, and you’ll figure out how to bring it all together along the way. You don’t have to know exactly how everything will look, feel and work in advance.”

But the man was a perfectionist, and that blocked him from pursuing his dream.

live, learn, love graphicWe need to remember that it’s perfectly okay to make mistakes while learning. A lot of what we learn is through trial and error. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be even close to perfect at something right away. Instead of focusing on producing perfect results, thinking about “getting better all the time” and eventually “doing great” might be more helpful.

True perfection may not even exist. But in God’s eyes, we are already perfect in our own unique way. And we are evolving every day. And worth loving every step of the way.

Everyone Deserves Love

I believe that we are all lovable simply because we exist, no matter what mistakes we might have made in the past (no matter how much we have achieved to date).

The question is: Do you believe it? Can you come around to loving and approving of who you are in this very moment? Try looking in a mirror and saying, “I love and accept you right now!,” despite any imperfections you might imagine about yourself.

Lately I’ve heard a lot of people repeat this popular catchphrase: “If you can’t love yourself, then how in the Hell are you gonna love somebody else?!”

But personally, I think that’s an oversimplification. Opening our hearts to giving and receiving love is a lifelong process, just as healing is. There is always room in our hearts for more love (it’s not an all or nothing proposition as that quotation indicates).

I wouldn’t repeat that quote to someone because it might create too much of an expectation that they’ve got to snap to it immediately and start loving themselves completely (be perfect at it). That expression could also trigger people’s perfectionist response by making them wonder if they really know how to love someone else (a panicky reaction of “What if I’m not giving enough?!”).

For years, I gave out more love than I’d accept in return. Fortunately, I now feel worthy of love and good in my life, but some days it’s easier to express it to myself than on others (to really feel it). I know that I still have work to do on myself (goals I’d like to achieve), but I recognize that it’s a process. I’ve got to love myself along the way and give myself credit for all the many advances I’ve made. I can’t put off my self-acceptance.

I Love Me sign

Moment by Moment

Love may be the fabric of the Universe, as some believe, but it’s unrealistic for us to expect to experience it every moment of the day – for ourselves or others.

For example, you may live your life under an umbrella of love for your spouse. But if you’re deeply engrossed in a project at work and not thinking about that person, are you really loving him? No, not in that moment. Then, later, you might glance at his photo on your desk and experience that emotion again.

We can’t expect to love ourselves every second either (we might simply be thinking about other things). But choice points will arise when we can decide how we regard ourselves. At those times, try to choose encouraging, approving words.

Our thoughts are communicated in words and how we say them to ourselves. Words and how we express lead them to feelings. So flatly saying inside your head, “I love myself,” isn’t going to create as positive a feeling as enthusiastically thinking, “I love myself!!”

Thoughts always proceed feelings. So if you find yourself feeling negatively about yourself at various times, maybe it’s time to start talking to yourself differently.

Be Your Biggest Cheerleader

We all tend to be our own worst critics. But mentally beating ourselves up doesn’t accomplish a lot. We have to be willing to forgive ourselves for making mistakes. After all, nobody’s perfect.

A number of years ago, I helped a Reiki client who’d gotten the mistaken notion that her life could never be right because 15 years prior, she hadn’t followed spiritual guidance she felt to move to another city. It was like she’d been left behind to suffer perpetually in a parallel universe of what might have been.

here and now signI had to help her see that her point of power is the present moment (wherever you go there, there you are). The past was over and done with, and she had to choose to let go of it and pursue happiness in the here and now. She had to start choosing thoughts that would lead to more positive emotions – feelings which would motivate her to take the actions that would shape a more positive reality for herself.

She already had a lot going for her, but I think she had some unrealistic expectations of herself. For example, at age 45, she was very self-critical that her speed at running half-marathons was slower than it had been 10 previously. That told me that she had a strong perfectionist drive.

So I tried to help her reframe her experience: That it was incredibly impressive that she was still running 13 miles at a pop, and that she had to change her expectations of her body’s physical limits as she aged.

Our Best Keeps Changing

To help that client, I paraphrased spiritual author Don Miguel Ruiz, who always encourages us to do our best – but who notes that our best is changing all the time.

Specifically, he wrote: “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

In other words, doing your best at any given time doesn’t mean you have to do things perfectly.

When I asked I asked my client who was struggling with perfectionism if she’d be open to hypnosis, she was initially resistant to the idea that anything about her thought process needed improvement, “I don’t think I have a problem with negative thinking,” she said. “I’m a yoga teacher, and I know the Alexander Technique [for releasing stress].”

Not wanting to push someone who didn’t seem ready, “I just said, ‘Oh, okay.’”

And you know what? Not even two minutes later, she said, “Everything I touch turns to shit.”

Thinking “Whoa!,” I had to stop her and point out, “What did you just say about yourself?”

That proved to be a breakthrough moment for her to see how her negative self talk was impacting her energy and ability to improve her life. With that expanded awareness, she then opened herself to pursuing some new avenues of thinking that could lead to greater self love.

Choosing New Thoughts

“Everything I touch turns to shit” isn’t a very motivating thought, is it?

When we catch ourselves thinking along those lines – stuck in our limitations – we need to stop and shift our thought process (to treat ourselves more lovingly).

For example, my client could have mentally corrected herself, thinking: “Plenty of things that I’ve touched have been a success! As both a yoga teacher and school teacher, I’ve had a positive impact on a lot of people’s lives. I possess a lot of abilities that serve me well. I know that I can continue to make great progress!”

My Reiki Master Teacher told me she regarded her thought process as placing an order with the Universe. When she caught herself thinking about things she didn’t want to become true for her, she would quickly say inside her head, “Cancel, cancel, cancel! Clear, clear, clear!” And she’d picked a new thought. I’ve found that strategy to be helpful as well.

Our subconscious minds are very vulnerable to the words we say to ourselves, so we need to choose them carefully.

positive thought word cloud

Reprogramming Your Mind

Throughout the course of our lives, our subconscious minds can absorb a lot of untrue, unbeneficial believes about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. That’s because the subconscious is like a two-year-old in that it has difficulty differentiating between good and bad, fact and fiction, or past, present and future.

Therefore, you can think of your subconscious mind (the reservoir for your memories, habits/reactions, and emotions/feelings) as your inner child. Through negative self-talk, you can end up strengthening that child’s insecurities.

So you have to remind yourself, “If I wouldn’t say this to a two-year-old, I don’t deserve to say it to myself.”

Stop abusing that inner child. Stop demanding him to be perfect. Instead, start communicating to yourself with loving, patient, productive words.

Nurturing Yourself

Your inner child may not have gotten all the love and approval she needed while growing up, but through your thought process, you can begin teaching her that she has always been more than good enough. And that she has the power to improve as well.

If you need help, you could consider hypnosis. Or you could read and reflect on helpful resources such as Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life or Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. Both authors produce decks of positive thought cards that are wonderful to keep within easy reach, too (or load onto your smart phone as apps).

For example, from Hay’s deck, I just drew this affirmation card: “I am free to think wonderful thoughts. I move beyond past limitations into freedom. I am now becoming all that I am created to be.”

Striving for greatness can be a fulfilling journey. But don’t think of perfection as the destination. If that’s your goal, you may never feel satisfied.

stepping stones over water

Copyright, 2013, Wellspring Reiki & Hypnotherapy

releasing the need to be right in argument

Releasing the Need To Be Right

“Would you rather be right or be happy?”

That’s an excellent question posed by A Course in Miracles. Of course, it can be lovely to feel both right and happy. But exactly what is right?

All of us have our own perspective, our own opinion. We all see the world through a different lens. Often there may be no absolute right or wrong, true or false, fact or fiction. Just an entire spectrum of shades of gray.

Sometimes releasing the need to be right in certain situations brings us a greater sense of freedom and happiness. You’re free to believe what you choose while allowing others to experience their own reality.

woman contemplatingIf a discussion arises in which there are differences of opinion, stop and ask yourself if the topic at hand is so important to you. If the subject really isn’t that big of a deal to you, can you just let it go?

Dealing with Difficulty

The other night I was visited by a regular client who’s been stressed out that her mother is coming to visit for a few weeks to help take care of her imminently due infant. Already, they are having tense phone discussions over the details of the delivery – for example, should she go through with natural childbirth, or have a C-section if the baby is overdue?

Once my client’s baby and mom are both here, there will certainly be many opportunities to disagree over what’s right for the newborn. While my client is grateful for her mother’s help, the two have historically had a difficult relationship.

Often, my client felt like she wasn’t heard or taken seriously growing up, so she as an adult she’s had a tendency to raise her voice in a way that may have led people to tune her out more than listen in when times get tense. She developed an admitted need to get the last word.

We’ve worked on her communication issues in hypnotherapy, and she says she’s made good progress. “I’ve been much better at catching myself when I fall into old patterns and creating new ways to think,” she told me.

New Strategy

Before her recent Reiki healing session, she asked if I could ask for any spiritual guidance on issues important to her right now. I heard a phrase that she could use to deal with her mom, even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with what’s being said.

I explained that instead of raising her voice, helping polarize their stances, she could simply say in a sincere, calm fashion: “I value your input, and I’ll take it into consideration.” My client wrote it down, seeming very soothed to have a fallback statement for dealing with a mother who likely wants to feel heard and validated as much as her daughter.

This is a strategy that could be helpful to all of us. If a subject really isn’t that important, perhaps saying, “Yes, I see your point of view” – and then moving onto another topic – would be a better course of action. Saying that doesn’t mean that you have to follow-through with some recommendation with which you disagree.

Perhaps feeling acknowledged, the people you’re dealing with will be more likely to listen to what you have to say. They might relax and become more open to new ideas.

On the other hand, you might find yourself coming around to the other person’s point of view, once you’ve given yourself time to reflect. Sometimes when I experience a strong feeling of resistance, there actually might be something I need to seriously reconsider.

Checking In

So next time you’re in a discussion and the tension is rising to argumentative levels, take a few deep breaths. Then ask yourself, “Is this so important?”

In the past, I’ve gotten as worked up over stupid stuff as anybody. For example, years ago I was the music critic for my university newspaper, and I remember being baffled by an college acquaintance who kept insisting that band mates Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie were sisters. As someone with a treasure trove of music trivia knowledge (not to mention a big fan of the band Fleetwood Mac), I just knew that she was wrong.

But she wouldn’t concede that I had greater expertise on that matter (note: this was well before you could look up any fact on your phone). Even after I detailed the band’s history, she just kept insisting, “Well, that’s what I always heard.” Which was rather maddening to me at the time.

Why did I care so much? Did making my case as strongly as I did improve my life in any way? Or was it just an energy drain?

shades of gray

Shades of Gray

That scenario is definitely one with a right or wrong answer. But what if you’re in gray-colored territory?

For example, maybe you’re discussing the best way to tackle a project at work. You recommend a more efficient solution, but your boss is stuck in a rut of doing things the way they’ve always been done. You want things to run better, to be recognized for what you have to offer the organization. But you feel like you’re falling on deaf ears.

All you can do is make your case in a calm, confident manner. If the supervisor insists that their way is better, at some point you might just try nodding in agreement and saying, “Oh, I see.” Nodding reassuringly and listening objectively can really sooth a big ego.

And once the threat to her authority and wisdom has dissipated, you might even find that she goes off and reflects on the issue. She might think it over and even come to the conclusion that it was her own idea.

Can your ego handle that? If you feel that you really need to take ownership of an idea, it’s okay to voice that as well. But question first how important it really is to you. There is no “I” in team, as they say.

Fear Factor

Some people just have a burning need to be right. Where does it come from? Fear is the most likely answer. Fear that they don’t have as much control over a situation as they would like. Fear that people won’t recognize how smart they are – or the opposite fear that people will discover they don’t know enough; that people will realize they’re a “fraud” (a common fear among perfectionists).

Maybe they’re super-competitive and afraid of their ego taking a hit. It’s their way or the highway.

Some people don’t deal well with ambiguity. Think of religious zealots (their belief is the only correct one) or those with extreme political views. For these people, things are often black or white; right or wrong.

Open to Debate

I noticed an interesting trend in the realm of social media during the fall 2012 presidential election. At least in the world of Facebook, people had the power to insulate themselves from ideas unlike their own through de-friending.

This was essentially the language of a post that was shared many times over: “If you plan on voting for (fill in the blank), just go ahead and de-friend me now.”

I have my own political views, and I certainly vote for candidates who best represent what I believe. But I worry about a world in which we can filter out what we see and hear to the point that there’s no room for reasonable discussion of what’s best for society. Are some people so determined to be “right” that they’ve eliminated any room for compromise?

Leading by Example

The older I get, the less energy I have to dedicate to arguments that may never be settled completely. I’m more focused on my own healing and leading by example. I can’t decide for others when it’s time to heal. As spiritual counselor and author Louise Hay says, “Healing myself is the best thing I can do for others.”

Sometimes it can be frustrating because we can so clearly see what’s “right” for someone else’s progress. For example, there may be a younger relative or a good friend whom we care about and don’t want to see make a major misstep. We might strongly feel that we know what would be the best course of action for their schooling, relationship and employment choices.

Again, all can do is calmly, reasonably make our case. But sometimes we just have to let people make mistakes – give them permission to make the “wrong” choice. That’s often how we learn – by making mistakes.

Sometimes I can hear the lecturing tone of my mother channeling through me when an issue pushes one of my buttons (such as people not demonstrating enough responsibility in caring for their animals). I recently had a discussion with a friend who has no plans to tag his new pet. I caught myself wanting to use language like “You should…” or “You must…” that could throw up his walls of defense.

Instead I chose to plant a helpful seed by calming saying, “Once you tag your pet, you can rest so much easier. If he gets loose, you know that he can always be found quickly.” I hope that idea takes root, but I have to let go of worrying about it.

Rising to the Challenge

As I began writing this article, I was amused (but not terribly surprised) that life again challenged my own need to be right. It was as if a Higher Power were saying, “Oh, you think you’ve got this figured out, do you?”

I was only a few paragraphs in while using my laptop at a friend’s house. I noticed that his love of smoothies had led to a fruit fly problem in his kitchen, so I offered to help him set a trap (involving a funnel of paper inserted into a glass full of vinegar).

Typically possessing much more handy-dandy genius than I do – and apparently a much stronger drive to be right – he cut me off, insisting that he knew how to do it. “I know what I’m doing!” But as I watched him pick up a piece of paper that wasn’t nearly large enough, I just knew that he didn’t. I learned that this type of trap was just something he heard about once.

Keeping Calm

I could have been offended that I wasn’t being acknowledged for this little bit of expertise I had. I could have blurted out, “You need to listen to me! I know what I’m talking about!”

Instead, I said in a firm but calm voice: “I know that you’re normally a domestic whiz. But I once had to deal with this issue a few times from juicing. I figured out some ways to make the trap more effective. I would love to help you out with this knowledge.”

But no, he wasn’t accepting my assistance. So I thought, “Hey, it’s not my kitchen!” – and I got back to writing.

But within minutes I heard a question about the trap coming from the kitchen, and then another, and another. And soon I was building the trap for him, helping him solve the problem. His ego just needed a little time to process the situation.

right or wrong way sign

Looking Within

What about times when we don’t know what’s “right”? We look outside ourselves for what we should do. It’s perfectly okay to seek outside counsel, but ultimately it’s best to trust your own intuition or gut feeling. We often end up regretting it when we ignore that inner voice, thinking in hindsight, “I knew I have should have done that!”

Sometimes I see clients who are so afraid of making mistakes that they not only second-guess themselves, but also feel paralyzed about making some decisions at all. They might want someone else to make them instead.

Unfortunately, sometimes the people we seek counsel from aren’t affirming of our goals – for example, going back to school or starting our own business. We can end up wasting a lot of energy convincing others that we’re on the right track that would have been better spent on creating our new reality.

Trusting Yourself

I find myself having to encourage many clients to follow their inner guidance, giving them affirmations like: “I trust my ability to make good decisions. I know that it’s okay to make mistakes while learning. I know that I have the ability to accomplish anything I set my mind to.” It’s best when these are giving during hypnosis, so that they can make a deeper imprint on the subconscious mind.

For the aforementioned client who had been stressed out about whether to have another C-section (not her preferred option) with her second child, I gave her the hypnotic suggestion, “When the time comes, I know that I’ll make the best decision for me and my baby.” Listening to the recording of that hypno-birthing session repeatedly has really calmed her anxiety about making the right call, she says.

Often during Reiki energywork sessions, spirit communicates through me about issues that are affecting clients mentally and emotionally. I always ask for messages that could help clients better understand their life path and healing needs.

When I gently share these at the end of sessions to help people connect the dots on potential imbalances in their lives, I always say, “If these impressions resonate as right for you, you can make a note of them. Otherwise, you can just let them go. I could be wrong.”

Of course, I’m usually right ;).

Thoughts are like Clouds

9 Things to Remember About Your Mind

Did you know that most people have more than 60,000 thoughts a day? Well, experts estimate that as many as 80 percent of those thoughts tend to be negative, even if our intentions are good. All those little worries and judgments about ourselves and others can really start to add up.

The great news is that we always have options about what we choose to focus on within our minds. Here are nine important things to remember about your thinking and how it creates your reality:

1) Thoughts are like clouds; they come and they go.

2) We can and do choose the thoughts we focus on. When we have a thought, we have a few choices: we can focus on it; reflect and analyze; let it go; or simply choose a new one (frequently the best option). You can shift your attention from the dark and stormy clouds to ones with rays of light shining through.

3) Our thoughts are communicated in words and how we say them (to ourselves and others). We’re continually programming our mind with the way we talk inside our head.

4) Words and how we express them lead to feelings. So saying something excitedly to yourself like, “I’m willing to give this a go!,” is going to have a different impact than flatly or hesitantly thinking, “I guess maybe I’ll give it a try.”

The thought always comes before the feeling. Feelings don’t just pop out of nowhere. So if you start feeling negatively, stop and notice what you were just thinking about. Maybe it’s time to choose a new thought pattern.

5) Our feelings affect our motivation. Repeatedly thinking something like “I always mess things up” isn’t going to create a very inspired feeling. You might instead choose a different thought: “I know that I can accomplish what I set my mind to. It’s okay if I make mistakes during the process. That’s how we learn.”

6) Our motivation influences our actions. If you’re feeling down on yourself or believing that certain situations are hopeless, you may not see the point of expending much energy to effect positive change in your life. Attitude is everything! “I know I can be successful!”

7) The actions we take (or don’t take) lead to certain results (the reality we create for ourselves). So which thoughts will you focus on today? Maybe it’s time to allow the dark clouds to drift out of your mind, and let the sunshine in, beginning to create a brighter future for yourself.

8) Where our attention goes, the energy flows. Stop wasting energy dwelling on past mistakes and instead direct it on positivity in the present moment. The point of power is always in the present. Your positive thinking now will help generate the good feelings that motivate you to take productive steps to improve your life.

9) What we focus on flourishes. Therefore, start aligning your thinking with what you would like to experience burgeoning in your life. When you think about those things, imagine doors of opportunity opening instead of stumbling over obstacles.

“Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Every thought I think is creating my future. The Universe totally supports every thought I choose to think and believe. I have unlimited choices about what I think. I choose balance, harmony, and peace, and I express it in my life.” – Louise Hay

Note: The concepts in this article were stressed in my training at Hypnosis Institute International with Jane Ann Covington.

Mental cloud image by Lightwise

Copyright, 2013, Wellspring Reiki & Hypnotherapy