Let Go and Let Peace

What is it about loss that makes us hang on even tighter to what we still have, even when it’s not good for us? Trauma affects our emotional brain in irrational ways sometimes. In my case, the loss of the opportunity to effectively bond with my primary caregiver (my mother) meant that I was always searching for a replacement.

As I grew older, I developed a people pleasing addiction because I wanted so badly to be seen, appreciated, loved and wanted and when I couldn’t get it from my mother, I chased after it from my lovers. Desperately needing to be validated and approved of, I shifted, molded, and manipulated my personality and body to fit what I believed would keep them attached to me because suffering a loss of love was out of the question; it was too painful a reality to face.

The more I tried to become someone else, the less connected I became to myself, my feelings, and my values and this created an even deeper void in my psyche because try as I might to avoid loss, I didn’t realize I was losing myself and that was a tragedy greater than any loss of a lover.

Inherent in suffering are lessons but the lessons can only be learned through the experiences. We have all the potential to become sages in our own right and thereby diviners of our destiny.

The mantra “Let Go and Let Peace” is a simple yet profound statement suggesting peace is found in letting go but before you can let go, you must go through and emerge more self-aware. Only then will you be able to start letting go of the past hurts, of the addictions, of the codependency, of the expectations, of the drama, of the guilt and of the shame.

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Rebuilding Your Emotional Immune System

Your emotional immune system is restored when it’s rebuilt on a foundation of self-love. Self-love is made up of self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence. For survivors of abuse especially in childhood, like myself, our emotional immune system was damaged at essential stages during our development. Self-love can be cultivated through practicing elf-compassion, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, and self-trust.

#1 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-WORTH

When we believe we are inherently defective, we then have to hide our real self, our essence, and try to become what we think we need to be, to be acceptable. The wounded self takes over and loses touch with our core Self – who we really are. We are stuck defining ourselves through our looks and performance, and we are stuck suffering the anxiety that comes from being so vulnerable to others’ disapproval. – Dr. Margaret Paul

For many years, I allowed my value to be defined by my ability to please others. It made me physically ill to disappoint those I looked to to give me a sense of value, my friends, parents, teachers, bosses and my intimate partners. I made everyone I came into contact with responsible for my feelings and tried to control how they felt about me by being who they wanted me to be.

The fear that they would see me the way I saw myself, as worthless, was so great, it took all my strength and focus to keep up the pretense that I was perfect. I lived this way for so long, I forgot who I was and how to be me. I was unable to see myself through the eyes of pure love. Relationships based on external approval will never survive. The real you, your essence will always seek to be seen, heard and felt and the discord this creates between the pull to be free and the push to suppress facing your truth will always cause you pain.

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#2 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-RESPECT

Your values and beliefs determine how you see yourself and your place in the world and go hand in hand with what you deem acceptable behavior and treatment. As children, we were unable to protect ourselves from those who were stronger than us and meant to do us harm. As adults, we alone are responsible for our path in life because we have freedom of choice.

Our experiences in childhood shaped our values and beliefs so if your experience as an adult is less than desirable, do a self-inventory to determine what your values and beliefs are. What, where and with whom you spend your time and money on will tell you your values. Your results in health, wealth and love will clue you in to your beliefs about your self-worth.

An aspect of cultivating self-love is liking, accepting and honoring who you are and where you are in life even as you take steps to change your adult experience into one that is more loving and supportive to your well-being. As you like, accept and honor yourself, you become intolerant to anyone or anything that is not in accordance with that. As you journey on your path to self-improvement, self-respect will help keep you grounded and protected from those who wish you harm.

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#3 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-ESTEEM

Self-esteem is the result of taking loving action, not the cause of it. It doesn’t matter how badly you were treated as a child, or how badly your parents treated themselves. Your actions need never be governed by your past. When taking loving action in your own behalf replaces your inattentive and judgmental behavior toward yourself, you will discover that the result is high self-esteem. – Dr. Margaret Paul

Are you more critical and judgmental of yourself or more loving towards yourself? Do you treat yourself and allow others to treat you in ways that build up your spirit or in ways that tear you down? Think of the thoughts you have about yourself when you stand naked and look in the mirror or when you make a mistake at work or have an argument with your partner. How many of your daily thoughts carry negative energy? Do you think things like “You’re so fat” or “You’re so stupid” or “Why can’t you ever do anything right” or “That was a dumb thing to say”?

It’s been said that if you tell a child they’re stupid enough, they start to believe it and I believe that’s true. As a child, I received a lot of mixed messages that I carried with me into adulthood. I was told I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and that I was smart but I was also told that I couldn’t run, had a big forehead, big eyes and wouldn’t be loved if I was fat. The positive messages made me successful in school and work but only when I wasn’t weighed down in sadness because of the emotional pain I carried from the negative messages and the abuse I suffered in childhood.

In order to remove the unsupportive beliefs we have about ourselves, we first need to become aware of them and then take repeated steps, “loving action” to replace them with supportive beliefs because if you tell yourself something enough, you start to believe it. Actions speak louder than words so in order to change your negatively charged thoughts, do things that nourish your mind, body and spirit, that make you feel good about yourself, happy and at peace like acknowledging your feelings, eating right, exercising, meditating, going for a stroll in nature, listening to music, joining a support group, going to church, practicing gratitude, not allowing others to mistreat you.

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#4 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-CONFIDENCE

Self-esteem is believing that you are worthy and deserving. The combination of believing you are worthy and deserving along with the belief that you are capable creates self-confidence.

Self-esteem is something I still struggle with which is why sometimes I come off as cocky and a know-it-all. I know I’m capable, there’s never been any doubt of that and I received positive messages about my intellectual brilliance from a very young age. I excel in anything I put my mind and effort into yet there was always a part of me that was clouded by self-doubt and a feeling of unworthiness. I always worried about what other people would think. Would I be congratulated or made to feel like I could have done better? Would they see how hard I worked or would they be dismissive of my efforts?

My dependence on other people’s approval and trying to prove my worth created a lot of stress on my psyche. I became a workaholic so my bosses would recognize what a dedicated worker I was. I became addicted to love and sex to please partners so they would love and appreciate me. I learned how to become someone else in public, putting on a smile, being the good girl and the accomplished woman. All that effort created a wall between the persona I’d created and the person I really was inside.

I had an inherent fear that even if I accomplished everything my heart desired that it would all fall apart because I didn’t deserve to have it.

Understanding how and why I had compartmentalized so much of myself that I couldn’t find my way back to me through hypnotherapy and NLP has helped tremendously in restoring my self-worth and letting go of my addictions but it’s an ongoing process. My message to you is that you can heal, you will feel better but you have to choose to make yourself a priority.

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Below are four practices you can start today to build a foundation of self-love including self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Lastly, I also recommend reading Pema Chodron’s “Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590306260?ie)

Self-Love, demystified

Self-love demystified

Consider this and imagine yourself as a container, any size will do. What makes this container so special is that it contains love. What does love feel like to you? To me, love is warm and safe, it’s laughter and joy, it’s bright and calm and it’s ever flowing.

When we’re born, our containers are full, overflowing with love but the walls of our container are thin which makes the walls of our container susceptible to tears and holes if our container isn’t well taken care of. Our caretakers are meant to be the protectors of our container, their job is to make the walls of our container strong and impenetrable and they do that by reinforcing what’s already in our container, love.

Our container walls need to be strong and impenetrable because the world can be harsh and rightly so. We can only grow and learn when we’re challenged. When our container walls are fortified, we can get through any challenge in time but when our container walls are thin and have tears and holes, it makes it very difficult for us to get through challenges. We lose our way, we fall into depression, we look for any and everything to plug up our holes and repair our tears and sometimes those quick fixes work but eventually they fail and leave even bigger holes and larger tears.

Every time we get picked on and called names, every time we’re made to feel small and less than beautiful or smart, every time we don’t feel protected, seen or listened to creates a small tear or hole in our container and love spills out. The holes and tears created in childhood are the most impactful because our container walls are thinnest in childhood. Our caretakers are our shields and we look to them for protection and comfort. If our caretakers do a great job, the challenges we face in childhood are filtered through the containers of our caretakers so the impact is not as great and even if we do sustain a tear, it’s quickly repaired and that impact area is fortified by the care we receive.

Because we’re so dependent on our caretakers to protect us, when the damage comes directly from them, we have no shield and the damage can be catastrophic, losing our essence in gallons.

Because love is what we’re made up of, when we lose too much of it we forget who we are and in the forgetting become vulnerable to emotional vampires. Emotional vampires are people who have also forgotten who they are because they’ve lost their essence and in trying to get it back, pull whatever you have left out of you but one’s essence cannot be replaced by someone else’s.

The beautiful thing about your container is that it can be repaired even if it’s riddled with holes and tears, it may take some time but it can be done and the way to do that is with self-love. I think of self-love as the act of nourishing your emotional body, feeding it the nutrients it needs to get strong and be able to face challenges head-on without forgetting who you are.

While there are practical things we can do to practice self-love like taking care of our bodies by eating right, exercising and practicing good hygiene, surrounding ourselves with positive, supportive people, staying away from emotional vampires, using affirmations and more; for these solutions to be successful long-term, you must truly believe you are worthy.

If you have a core belief that you do not deserve to be loved, these surface solutions will not hold up very long because they depend on willpower to remain focused and on track. Willpower requires the effort of your conscious mind, the part of you that thinks logically and practically. Think about the last time you tried to not do something because you knew it was bad for you but you did it anyway. Your conscious mind makes up only 15-20% of who you are you. It helps you make logical decisions and solve problems, it helps you remember your way home, buy groceries and pick up the dry cleaning. What it doesn’t do is help you change habits, behaviors, and beliefs that are tied to your emotional state and your subconscious mind.

The coaching work I do uses hypnotherapy to access the subconscious mind, the seat of your emotions and beliefs which drive the motives behind your habits and behaviors. Repairing and fortifying the damaged walls of your container means revisiting what caused the holes and tears in your container, which are the experiences stored in the subconscious mind, then reprogramming your subconscious to adopt more positive, supportive, loving beliefs thereby creating new motives which lead to new habits and behaviors.