DEAR FRIENDS- Your love for yourself and confidence in who you are is the bedrock of your happiness and your ability to have a transformative impact on the world around you. The greater your self-love and self-validation, the more joy and inner peace you experience and the greater the happiness you radiate to others.
The more deeply you understand it, the more you realize that coming forth with all of your energy, love and aliveness is the core purpose of your life. In other words, completely BEING YOU is your spiritual path!
Now here is the REAL truth about you. You are a unique masterpiece- fully worthy, fully valid, fully lovable. You do not need to change who you are or become a "better person". Why? Because the actual problem is believing that your core and authentic self isn't good enough- isn't in fact a miracle! You need to wake up and celebrate the amazing beauty and total rightness that is YOU! And live your life from the happiness that self-inspiration brings you.
You can really and permanently feel this way when you see yourself with an open heart and soulful clarity- that is, through the eyes of love.
What is the obstacle we must release in order to reach this state of grace? In a word- the habit of self-criticism (much of which is unconscious). Let me explain how this is so by telling you a story.
The other day I was talking with an old friend who was quite depressed. Nothing stressful had happened in her life- externally- and she couldn't understand why she was feeling so tired, sad and hopeless.
My intuition told me to ask her whether she had been experiencing strong self-criticism lately. She thought for awhile and then her eyes widened. "I hadn't been aware of it but yes- you are right! How did you know?" she asked.
I explained to her that unconscious self-criticism is a major source of depression (both temporary and chronic) and is also a cause of worry, anxiety and even physical illness. The basic attitude we have toward ourselves- negative and critical or positive and loving- has a primal impact on our body, emotions and spirit.
To illustrate, I asked her to imagine the feelings of a child who is chronically being told that she is failing/is wrong/isn't good enough. Or that she has to change who she is in order to earn love and acceptance.
That child, of course, would feel both anxious and depressed. All children need to feel unconditionally loved and accepted to feel emotionally secure and happy. And so do we adults!
Then I asked her: "What would a person feel if the voice of criticism was IN THEIR OWN HEAD? And therefore he/she could never escape from the stress of being judged?"
As my friend grasped what I was saying she sat up straight in her chair. Light shone in her eyes and it was clear that her energy was returning. "I see it now!" she exclaimed. "I've been very hard on myself lately and I didn't even know it. That's why I've been so depressed!" The excitement of her insight was raising her spirit and causing her depression to lift.
Gaining momentum, she asked: "I'm realizing that this is a pattern that has been repeating my entire life. How do I cure this tendency to fall into self-criticism and then depression?" I replied that the answer is both amazing and simple- that everyone needs to wake up and see the beauty and perfection of who they are. And have this excitement and enthusiasm about their own beauty and "rightness" become so deep and healing that the habit of self-criticism is permanently washed away. And right then I taught her the exercise that helps you accomplish this, which I will describe below.
Like my friend, almost everyone harbors an "inner critic". If you pay close attention to the stream of mental chatter in your head, you will start to notice that you are often criticizing yourself. Please realize once and for all that YOU DO NOT DESERVE IT! To be free of self-criticism- and the lie of your "defectiveness"- you first have to realize that it's there. Once you do, you can heal your blindness to your own beauty, connect to the strength and power of who you are, and awaken the healing force of of self-love.
The following exercise is a powerful way to permanently release your chronic self-criticism and establish a new way to see yourself- through the eyes of love. This practice is simple, but like zen meditation it cracks the shell of illusion and opens you to the liberating truth. Try committing yourself to doing it every day for a month. At the end of the month, ask yourself whether your self-criticism is fading and your self-acceptance and confidence are growing. If this is happening, keep going- big changes are coming!
AWAKENING TO YOUR OWN BEAUTY: "THE EYES OF LOVE" EXERCISE.
1. To begin, make a list of all the beautiful, lovable and admirable aspects of yourself. Examples- your quality of kindness; or courage; your sense of humor; intelligence; honesty/integrity; passion; determination; your various talents (artistic/musical/leadership/writing/cooking/healing/etc.). The longer you calmly and objectively contemplate yourself, with an open heart and mind, the more positive inner qualities you will be delighted to find!
2. Once you have made your list (and feel free to add to it) spend a minute or two quietly absorbing/dwelling upon what you are seeing about yourself. Let it "sink in" to your mind and heart that this beautiful "human masterpiece" that possesses all these lovely inner qualities- is YOU!
3. Now, go to the mirror and look this beautiful person in the eye. Imagine that you are the kind of mother or father who is always encouraging and knows exactly what to say. Or, imagine that you are speaking with the voice of your own soul. The basic concept is that the person in the mirror (the part of you that has been anxious/depressed/hurt from self-criticism) needs to see and feel how beautiful, valid and lovable she/he really is! And you- the wise and loving core of you- will supply this ultimately reassuring message.
Each of the phrases, while deceptively simple, are emotionally very evocative. Each one vibrates at a frequency that touches the heart and rings through the body and the mind. As you work with them, keep breathing and keep feeling.
4. Keeping eye contact with yourself and speaking out loud (both of these help the new message/attitude sink into your subconscious and replace the voice of self-criticism) say these three things:
a. Hi ___ (use your name or an endearment such as 'honey' or 'sweety'). I see and love so many wonderful things in you. You are so beautiful and perfect to me!
b. Look at all the amazing parts of yourself. You are so kind, so brave, so passionate, so determined etc.etc.
c. You do NOT need to change- ever. All you need is to completely be WHO YOU ARE!
5. Using your intuition, repeat certain key words or phrases that you really need to hear.
You can repeat the exercise throughout the day if you notice the habit of self-criticism starting to return. Or whenever you want to feel the joy of seeing everything that is beautiful and right about you. And always remember- whenever you are feeling down on yourself you are not seeing yourself clearly. Truly we can only see who we really are through the eyes of love! LOTS OF LOVE- BRYAN