(part 3 of A Soft Place to Call Home)
Now that you have made space for your thoughts and listened to them, gently, without judgment, and without reacting, what would the next steps be? How do you develop the perspective to see things from a wide lens so you become your own mentor who believes in your innate goodness and in your courage to do the right thing.
Anxiety, Depression, Anger are all emotions that protect us. It is when we are not aware and conscious of our natural tendency to resist the emotion and react in impulsive ways that we begin to throw 2nd darts at ourselves that do us no justice.
Anxiety is an emotion that protects us from dangers. Away from the vast savannas of our ancestors and in our very safe worlds, this warning flag of our brains is outdated and leads to what neuropsychologist Rick Hanson calls paper tiger paranoia. An over-estimation of threats blurs our ability to differentiate between real tigers and paper tigers and does little else than make us doubt ourselves and avoid what could potentially be of great benefit.
Depression is an emotion that is meant to safeguard us from the wrath of others who reject us. In our 21st century existence, long after the vengeful tribes of the hunter gatherers, we only end up rejecting ourselves and creating a disconnect that closes us in and leaves us nowhere to find comfort.
Anger is an emotion that shields our interests and territories. In an era when survival was of the fittest and all land was open for conquering, anger was a great deterrent to approaching tribes. In our world, it does little more than separate us from others and leave us blind to the goodness around us.
The key then is to do exactly the opposite of our action tendency when the emotion arises. This is where Self-Compassion comes in. Being in touch with our humanity, with our faults and our failings requires courage and courage does not incubate in a pit of hatred. We need to embrace ourselves in acceptance and understanding to allow ourselves to dig deep into our conscience and see the experience for what it is.
Loving Kindness Meditation
This meditation grounds us in love and compassion thus making our worlds a safer place to be in. In listening to your inner voice, if you found that you are needlessly self-doubtful in the judgment of your abilities, this meditation encourages you to be kinder to yourself and enables you to perhaps recall times in your life when you did well at something. Seeing your experience as one among many opens up your perspective and allowing the memory of past successes to sink in builds the courage you need to take action.
If your inner voice is angry and bitter and you feel taken advantage of, loving kindness meditation will help you by extending love and kindness to others, especially the ones you feel affected by, thus enabling you to make decisions without hurt or regret in the driver’s seat.
If you found that your inner voice is harsh and self-critical, you will be able to project the love and kindness inwards to pacify the inner child that is craving acceptance. There is also a compassionate mind training developed by Professor Paul Gilbert that is specifically targeted towards self-compassion and works really well not only with finding love for the self but also with providing the courage to take the right action.
Now I’d love to hear back from you! What has worked for you when your emotions have diverged from peace and calm? Is there is Mindfulness practice that works especially well for you?