5 Tips to Cultivate Personal Power and Self-Confidence

When certain blogs touch me I share them with you, with a few short paragraphs from me about how it pertains to my life in recovery…Dee Harris

5 Tips to Cultivate Personal Power and Self-Confidence

 By Linda Dierks

When you step into your power, you cultivate self-esteem and personal worth. A new sense of freedom emerges, doubts fall away, and you quit being a marionette to other people’s expectations or vulnerable to external circumstances. This new confidence allows you to let go of the need to judge, criticize, or compare yourself to others. When you claim your power, you also claim your greatest potential as an expression of your source creator. 

Dee:

Prior to stepping into my power I had to unlearn most of what was shell-shocked into me as a young child.  Most of who I was to become came from the experiences in my first decade of life.  We come from the womb so innocent and pure, so curious and excited to learn.  And then “the real world” enters our virgin bubbles and starts to corrupt our innocence.

I “thought” I was in my power as the highly intellectual being I had become.  Thinking.  No feeling.  Feeling was for the weak.  But wait.  I lacked self-esteem and personal worth.  I lacked purpose and happiness.  I lacked a reason for living.

It wasn’t until I learned to live from my heart and not my head did I begin to cultivate self-esteem and personal worth.  It wasn’t until I admitted I was an alcoholic and checked myself into rehab did I realize how fear-based and dysfunctional I was.  I was that marionette to other people’s expectations.  I valued your opinion of me more than my own opinion of myself (which was a LOSER anyway, so didn’t much matter).

Embrace your power by following these five building block practices and rise to the top of your personal game and spiritual path. 

1. Define Who You Are 

When you know who you are, you lay a foundation on which to build. As you define your abilities and qualities, you connect the dots and the picture of who you truly are emerges. Once this image develops, you become genuine, authentic, and comfortable in your own skin. You can start by asking yourself: 

When I let go of fitting in, what is it about me that rises to the top?

Dee:

The child in me.  That eager to play and learn child.  That child who has not yet been bullied or pressured into fitting in, lest be ridiculed.  That child free of the past and the future.  Just being in the moment.  That is the me that rises to the top when I let go of the fear of fitting in.
What gifts are distinctly mine? What rings sterling and true about my abilities and personal qualities? Are there talents or tasks where others seek my help or advice?

Dee:

My story, my journey, my puzzle pieces, are distinctly mine.  We all have that.  It’s up to each individual to consider it a gift or not.  Today I choose my journey as my greatest puzzle piece.

My journey brought me to a very dark place of drugs and alcohol.  It wasn’t until I realized that I could not go a day without alcohol (that seemed to go on for half my life) that I surrendered in guilt and shame and asked for help.  That is when I started to see, and feel, my gifts…all blossoming from the bottoming out of my addiction.

In recovery I practice loving myself for who and what I am.  I live rigorously honest.  I live in the moment with no regrets of the past nor worries of the future.  I live my life with faith in a Power Greater Than Myself over whom I can turn my will and my life.  I live with humility and the utmost of gratitude.

I seem to attract others into my bubble with this presence, compassion and mindfulness.  I can today be respectful of YOU as our time together is not about me.  I can love YOU, until you can love yourself, as was done for me in early sobriety.  YOU teach me and bring that childhood eagerness to learn out in me.  We feed off each other.  It’s a win-win.

What did I love to do as a kid that got “practicalized” out of me?

Dee:

I loved to play and be care-free and just be me.  And then I went out in the real world.  Sometimes I got bullied for being Asian in a mostly white school.  Somehow I got scared of being called on by the teacher and not having the right answer or any answer at all.  I don’t remember any instance of being ridiculed or demeaned by this, but I took it upon myself to always have the right answer.

I no longer played nor was care-free.  I studied and became obsessed with being perfect.  I lost my childlike innocence.
When that force of intuition and desire tugs my sleeve, where is it pointing me?

Dee:

It points right back into the present moment…to that place right in front of my nose.  It points to my heart and not my head.  It points to faith in my Higher Power and not my ego.  It points me to humility and gratitude for where my journey has brought me…to this moment.

What qualities light me up? 

Dee:

Respect.  Gratitude.  Honesty.  Mindfulness.  Compassion.  Love.

Am I practical or a daydreamer?

Dee:

I am both.  As a business owner I must be practical and committed to my customers.  As a recovering, and grateful, alcoholic I must be committed to my sobriety and to myself which brings out the child in me and the daydreamer in me.  

There can be a happy medium.  For this alcoholic staying in moderation takes work.  I’m an all-or nothing kind of person.  But remembering to stay in the moment keeps me on an even keel, remembering to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God and knowing, feeling, that everything is perfect at this very moment.

Do I seek adventure or quiet solitude?

Dee:

I thrive on quiet solitude.  That is my happy place, my safe place.  But I “make” myself get out of the box, my comfort zone, lest I fail to learn what I feel God wants me to learn, and to share what I learn.  I cannot share my experience, strength and hope with you if I am in my box, my Dee Bubble, and sharing is my purpose today on this planet, a true gift given me from being a recovering alcoholic, whereas in my disease I was a waste of space on the planet with no direction, and no life.  I was a LOSER.

Is my life a bustle of activity or tuned to a laid-back pace?

Dee:

Today I “choose” laid-back because today I have choices.  I don’t “have to drink” today which is always a great place for me to get back in the moment.  I don’t have to be a go-getter today because I have unlearned that and many other unnecessary and unhealthy traits that was rammed down my throat by society.

Yes, today I choose laid-back because it serves me best.  And today I choose to take care of myself and my well-being.  Today I love myself for who I am and the choices I make.


Do I recharge my batteries in an exuberant crowd or curled up with a book? Am I happiest when I stand out or when part of a larger whole? 

Dee:

My recharging comes from my Dee time, which is quiet, alone time.  Curling up with a book is always icing on the cake to me.  When I’m in my practical side I don’t often choose to let myself read, or watch a movie, or meditate, or do yoga.  These are ways I recharge my batteries.

And today I am happiest when I am with like-minded fellows, especially in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  This is where I can truly be myself, to be rigorously honest, to hear what I need to hear, to feel what I need to feel.  I no longer have to stand out for that fear-based trait no longer serves me.  I can be that child again.

Knowing who you are generates practices that best care for your needs and gives rise to a lifestyle that matches your authentic nature. You’ll feel more and more anchored. As the effervescence of your true self bubbles to the surface, you quit trying to be liked by everyone else, let go of being pulled in multiple directions, and are more resilient to life’s challenges. Dare to be special! 

2. Embrace Your Gifts 

Shine your light on the world. You are endowed with distinctive talents, skills, and interests that mark your magnificence and set you apart. Do your gifts launch or languish behind old voices? Are you saying to yourself: 

“Don’t be too big for your britches.” “Quit being a show-off.”
“Look at the smarty-pants.”
“Act like a lady/gentleman.” 

Does the term, “fear of outshining” resonate with you? Do you downplay your skills so that you won’t stand out or threaten others? Have you turned down the volume on your talent in favor of fitting in? If your light is barely peeking out from under that bushel, allow yourself to shine—you will inspire, not intimidate. Broadcast what is special about you. 

Dee:

This is what we need to teach our children in their first decade of life!  Then we wouldn’t have to be telling this to ourselves, and me to YOU, today as a reminder of what we already should know!  We are a gift!  We have gifts that no other human being on the planet holds.  Never forget that.  Always be grateful.  Always be humble.  And SHARE YOUR GIFTS!

And, damn, don’t give a shit about acting like a lady/gentleman.  That’s fear-based garbage drummed into our heads when we were children.  Just be YOURSELF, respectful, mindful, compassionate.  Don’t worry about fitting in.  No one’s paying attention to you in that light anyhow.  BE YOURSELF!

3. Love Yourself 

Love is the highest frequency and gateway to your dance with the divine. The benefits of self-love are instant and enormous. 

Try it, right now, by sending love down through your central core in a steady flow. With a flush of warmth and expansion, you ignite the heart and wash away doubt, insecurity, and self-limiting thoughts, and infuse calm and confidence. Move from being your worst critic to being your best cheerleader, and the world says “yes.” 

When you infuse yourself with love, you honor and become more closely aligned with your creator. Set up your day—before getting out of bed, infuse yourself with love and reinforce it throughout the day. Turn your phone on selfie and have an eye-to-eye, heart-focused chat with yourself if you lose your center or if your confidence wanes. The combination of self-love and operating out of authenticity makes you invincible. You are perfect, whole, and complete. 

Dee:

If I didn’t love myself, I couldn’t be sharing this blog with you in a rigorously honest way.  I wouldn’t be sharing my story of my dysfunctional alcoholism with you.  But I have learned to live without guilt and shame today.  I have learned to love myself for who and what I am with all my defects of character…and all my gifts.

Today I honor myself.  Today I have contentment and peace.  Today I have a purpose to share my journey with you.  And if just one person walks away with a little glimpse of hope and optimism, my purpose was served.  Today I am perfect, whole, and complete.  YOU are perfect, whole and complete.

When I was in rehab the affirmation I chose to share every morning whilst in Group was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  This affirmation sticks with me to this day, two decades later.  

I chose that affirmation because on that day I felt anything but good nor whole.  Remember I was a piece of shit, a LOSER, a waste of space on the planet.  I couldn’t go a day without drinking, lying, cheating, hiding.  It was horrible and exhausting.

Today I AM a good person and I AM a whole person.  It’s taken a long time and a lot of hard work to get myself to this place.  But I didn’t do it alone.  Today I have a God and a fellowship of like-minded people who loved me until I could love myself.

Affirmations seem to appear out of nowhere when I need them most.  Signs from God.  Just the right words or message I need to see at that particular moment to bring me back right-sized, grounded and centered.  To be able to chill out and stop causing so much drama and chaos.  To remember that I am not in control and let God do the driving; I’m just along for the ride.

So one of my purposes today is to create inspiring, yet fun affirmations and inspirational quotes.  I put them on mosaics which can be placed in strategic places to remind you to “Don’t Be a Shitty Person” in the bathroom (no pun intended) to start you off first thing in the morning, or “Everything is Perfect at this Moment” or “Just Breathe” to hang on your rearview mirror of your car to get you centered while you’re stuck in traffic.

Another of my purposes today is to write these weekly blogs.  When I receive feedback I am reassured that my purpose was served…to share my experience, strength and hope…and my message was heard.  I also speak at DUI classes which is where my message is really heard loud and clear.  I feel so full, so grateful, so happy when I walk out of that classroom.

4. Walk with a Higher Presence 

Since prehistoric man, we have expressed spirituality in countless ways that are personal and unique to each of us.

When you incorporate spiritual practices and live by spiritual principles, you raise your vibrational frequency and become more closely aligned with a Universe that is invested in your highest good. A meditation practice increases this connection; however, anything that brings inspiration and joy will open your crown chakra, creating a deeper energetic connection with this wisdom and bounty. Don’t overlook the importance of joy in your life. 

As you partner with this higher presence, you anchor your power. Confidence flourishes when you know that you are never alone and have an ally that’s invested in your joy, wellness, and prosperity. The hard edges of life soften, and you are propelled as the barriers of self-doubt and fear fall away. Partner up and become a co- creator of a life of abundance and wellness. 

Dee:

My life made a complete turn around when I learned I could make up a God of My Own Understanding.  Having no religious background in my childhood all the way up to getting sober, I lived a life based on intelligence, thinking, the brain.  When I “made up”, “pretended”, “day dreamed” a Power Greater Than Myself to which I was able to turn my life and will over, I finally found myself, felt myself, in the Spirit of the Light.  It’s amazing!

The weight was lifted off my shoulders about EVERYTHING!  I found that things were happening just as they were supposed to unfold…PERFECTLY!  I receive God-shots which I can’t explain with my intelligence.  Yep, truly amazing!

5. Engage, Expand, and Express 

Engage your power by using these tools. Realization by realization, each step feeds the next in an ever-escalating ladder of growth and expansion. Express it. Show up and shout it out. When you sing your song and put your skills out in the world, you generate an energetic cycle of vitality that says to the Universe, “Give me more!” Reinforce the energetic loop by supporting and mentoring others. You are part of a sacred cycle of vitality. 

Personal power and self-esteem are the foundation for creating joy and wellness. It motivates you to be more. It gives you resiliency in the face of adversity. It’s the root of mental and physical health and opens you to positive interaction with the world and a higher power. 

When you step up to the plate and invest your time and interest, the Universe invests time and interest in you. Take the plunge, go out on a limb, put on your cape, and read your poetry to the trees. There is a great void just waiting for you to fill it. 

Dee:

So here I am finishing this blog.  I awoke this morning with gratitude and an excitement of what the day, what my God, has in store for me today.  I want everyone to have that!  I want to inspire YOU to be your best YOU.  Love yourself for the unique and awesome person YOU ARE.  And then share your inspiration with those who enter your bubble.  The ripple effect, yeah?  Together we can make this world a better place to live with love and understanding, compassion and mindfulness, in a non-judgmental and respectful way.  Let’s ripple!

Thank you for being part of my day and allowing me to live my purpose…and my passion.  I encourage feedback.  I want to hear your story.  I want to learn from YOU!  With the warmest of aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in checking out my affirmations, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

About the Author:  Linda Dierks Teacher and Author 

Linda Dierks is a pioneer of creating core wellness through the science of energy, the spirituality of personal empowerment, the power of thought, and the power of love. Linda triumphed over cancer and depression after studying advanced wellness philosophies and several alternative health modalities. Now as a teacher, speaker, and author, she illustrates the methods behind her success through workshops and the Creating Joy and Wellness blog. You can learn more about her at http://www.spinstrawtogoldnow.com or catch Linda’s full Step Into Your Power series at blogtalkradio.com/internationalangelsnetwork.

from The Chopra Center

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5 Ways to Manage Perfectionism

5 Ways to Manage Perfectionism 

By Jen Stiff (/bios/jen-stiff) 

Trying to be perfect all the time can be exhausting. Feeling like you’re never measuring up can wear you down in ways you didn’t think were possible. If you let it, perfectionism can negatively impact your self-esteem (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/cou/45/3/304/), affect depression and anxiety (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796709002228), and promote other forms of maladjustment (http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/14/1/14.short). 

The good news is there are healthy ways to manage your perfectionism. 

Dee:

Yes!  Yes!  This was me!  How in the hell did this happen?  I wasn’t born this way, I’m sure.  Was it all those years, especially those early formative years, that I was bombarded by people, propaganda and experiences that I not just witnessed, but took to heart?  Was I not told enough what a wonderful and perfect gift I am, just the way I am with unique qualities that no one else on the planet has?  Hmmm…

What Does It Mean to Be a Perfectionist? 

Simply put, perfectionism is a need to be perfect, and according to the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov03/manyfaces.aspx), it correlates with anxiety, depression, and even eating disorders. The worry and fear associated with perfectionism can be costly in terms of your physical and emotional well-being. It can also have a detrimental impact on your relationships because you tend to burden others with the same unrealistic standards you place on yourself. 

Dee:

When I found my perfectionism high on my priority, I just kept on going like the Energizer Bunny.  I put you first and myself last.  I cared more about what you thought of me than what I thought and felt about myself.

To take the edge off my perfectionism I drank.  First just a glass of wine with you whilst having dinner or at a party.  Then a couple when I got home from work.  Then a few more and a few more until, all of a sudden, I couldn’t go a day without drinking.  

This happened over the course of many years, even decades, but it happened.  Drinking was my life and everything else got in the way of my priority.  I made sure my kids got everything done on time, the house was clean, the meals were prepared, I went to work, but all with my security blanket of alcohol there for me when I felt overwhelmed.

I was a physical and emotional wreck not sleeping, but passing out; not waking up, but coming to; hungover; in a black out.  Life was shitty.  I was exhausted then, not from the perfectionism, but from the lying and hiding of my addiction.

The Irony of Perfectionism 

According to Brene Brown (http://brenebrown.com/), “Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us, when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.” 

Perfectionism often leads to the opposite outcome of what you were fighting so hard to achieve. This is because perfectionists tend to worry so much about failure that they either never get started on or they get stuck halfway into their endeavors. They are constantly undermining themselves and getting in their own way—not exactly a fertile ground for creative growth. 

Dee:

It wasn’t until I got sober and worked the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that I was able to come to terms with my perfectionism.  By working Step 4 I realized how fear-based I’d lived up to that point.  Everything started to make sense as the pieces of my life puzzle started to fit together.

Whether it’s with AA or another support group, I highly encourage everyone to work the steps of a 12 step program; it is truly enlightening and empowering.  Finding out that addiction stems so much around how we think and that the substance is just a way out from the madness.

Learning what makes me tick, learning how not to react, learning to live from my heart and not my head, and learning to trust a Higher Power of My Own Understanding, has helped me tremendously into this transition to being comfortable in my own skin.  Learning to love myself for who and what I am is such a freedom!  Learning to put my needs before yours and knowing that then I can give you the best of me is icing on the cake!

How to Tell if You’re a Perfectionist 

If you’re a perfectionist, chances are you already know it. But if you’re wondering, “Could this be me?,” here are five common perfectionist tendencies: 

  1. You don’t settle for second best.
  2. You give up on tasks you don’t think will turn out perfectly. 
  3. You are overly critical of mistakes.
  4. Your world falls apart when you don’t achieve perfection. 
  5. You don’t like asking for help. 

Dee:

Whoa!  Again, the old me to a “T”.  I’ve always been an over-achiever from the get-go, especially in school.  My dad would tell me to get my nose out of my books to go out and play.  But I was so worried that I would get called on by the teacher, not have the correct answer, and be laughed at by my peers.

Needless to say, I was a straight-A student all the way through college (pretty much).  And I was “Mommy’s girl” at home helping Mom cook and clean as she was raising my brother and me as a single parent with no child support or help from my dad.  I continued to try to be perfect for my mom and for everyone in my Dee Bubble, hiding anything about me that would indicate I was anything but perfect.

All this hiding and lying and never getting to be me was exhausting and unfulfilling.  I had no purpose on this planet except to drink (at the end of my active alcoholism).  I loathed myself.  I was empty.

Once again, working the Steps of AA helped me to get past all this wasted negative energy I held within.  Today I choose to use what energy I have in a positive way and with purpose…to share my experience, strength and hope with anyone who enters my bubble.  

I have learned to just do my best and that is good enough for me and my Higher Power.  And I have learned to ask for help.  AA has shown me this…that I am not alone…that many share the trials and tribulations of life and together we can get through anything.

Are There Any Benefits to Being a Perfectionist? 

A healthy dose of perfectionism can propel you toward achieving your goals. But there’s a giant leap from a healthy pursuit of your dreams to striving to meet hopelessly unrealistic standards. The key is to find balance and to relax into a place where good enough becomes the new perfect. 

Here are five practices to help you manage your perfectionism: 

1. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others 

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

People tend to make assumptions about others’ lives based on little or no evidence, which can make you feel like you’re not enough. Thanks to social media (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4- tips-to-survive-social-media-envy), it’s easier than ever before to compare yourself to others. But the truth is, you’re telling yourself fictional stories. 

This game of comparison is one you’ll never win. The best and quickest way to shift these destructive thought patterns is to practice gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/articles/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude). Think of all of the amazing things you have in your life and hold your focus there. Try this every morning before you get out of bed to start your day on a positive note. You may just find that practicing gratitude on a regular basis leads to more abundance than you ever thought possible. 

Dee:

When I get out of living in the moment, I get away from my heart and my Higher Power.  My ego takes over.  I get critical.  My energy goes toward negative thoughts, actions and words.  My Higher Power loves me for the gift that I am today, right now, just the way I am.  “Progress, not perfection” as we say in AA.

Not many people share how shitty their lives are on social media.  Who wants to hear that?  Those negative-type people bring me down and I find myself “unfriending” them.  Therefore, social media is not real life.

2. Relish in Making Mistakes 

There are dozens of examples of well-known people who have tried and failed hundreds of times, only to go on and accomplish great things. Theodor Seuss Geisel (known as Dr. Seuss) is a beloved children’s book author whose books have sold more than 600 million copies worldwide. But did you know that 27 different publishers rejected his first book? 

Making mistakes and stumbling along on your journey is part of the human experience. It means you’re getting out there and trying. Mistakes are opportunities to help you grow and can even open new doors. 

Dee:

Each morning I now arise excited to see what the day, and my Higher Power, has in store for me.  Who shall I meet?  What shall I learn?  What new experiences await me?  Will they be good or bad?

I choose today to see all experiences as good as they are my workbook for learning.  If something happens that twists the knife in my gut, so to speak, I realize that this incident is not a coincidence but a learning moment for me; it is up to me to take a positive approach to all that life has in store for me.

Trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone, not reaping the end-all reward right off the bat is good for me.  The more “no’s” or failures I get, the closer I am to that pot of gold just around the corner.

To also put no expectations on anyone or anything has been a healthy choice for me.  “No expectations, no disappointments”.  If I get out of the way, things unfold just the way they are supposed to and usually better than any of my expectations could have ever dreamed of.  God is in charge.

Had I not been an alcoholic I might never have found this awesome new and spiritual way to live.  I may never have learned to love myself and be comfortable in my own skin.  I might have always been an intellect and never learned to live from my heart.  So glad to have gone through my alcoholic journey.

3. Let Go of an “All or Nothing” Approach 

Trust and appreciate the process. This is where the beauty lies and the learning thrives. This is how you learn what works and what does not. Embrace the steps and celebrate the missteps you take during the process. This is the best way to get to where you want to be. 

Think about your favorite author. Is every one of his or her books the best book you’ve ever read? No. Some are better than others, some missed the mark, and many are hovering right around the middle. 

Dee:

I learned early on in AA, “One day at a time” and “baby steps”.  So this is the approach I now try to practice which is difficult for this all-or-nothing, obsessive-compulsive person.  I want it now and I want it my way.  That mentality doesn’t serve me well.  I have learned patience and faith.  All will happen in God’s time exactly the way it’s supposed to.

4. Focus on Practicality 

A good way to think of this is to aim for good enough. Being perfect is impossible, so why not embrace reality? Perfectionists can get stuck in the weeds, obsessing over making every detail of their lives perfect and forgetting about the big picture. 

Imagine that you set a goal to eat more healthfully. You begin scrutinizing every single morsel of food you put into your mouth; you beat yourself up over eating that cookie at work; and you feel guilty about the way your sweet potatoes were prepared (who doesn’t like sweet potato fries?). In other words, there is no balance, and because this is an impossible way to live, you give up, thinking that you’re never going to eat healthier. 

Instead, try the 80/20 rule—eat healthfully 80 percent of the time and allow yourself to mindfully indulge in life’s culinary pleasures the other 20 percent. 

Dee:

“Perfectly imperfect!”  It’s hard for me to do anything in moderation but I MUST!  I must just try.  I must be okay with “just” doing my best…today…right now.  I am a work in progress and each day gets better and better and easier and easier.  Way better than how it was when I was active in my disease when each day progressively got worse and worse.

5. Practice Self-Compassion 

Above all else, cut yourself a little slack. For a perfectionist, negative self-talk comes easily. It can feel natural to berate yourself when things don’t go as planned. The antidote for this is to embrace yourself, flaws and all, wholeheartedly. Practice self-care and make your physical and mental health a priority. Repeat a mantra before you fall asleep each night: I am enough. 

Taming your perfectionist tendencies might be a lifelong practice. And that’s OK. Just remember to remind yourself, over and over again, that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are. 

Dee:

Learning to be less critical of myself has been the hardest lesson of all.  It’s taken me many, many years to finally be comfortable in my own skin.  To love myself for who I am with all my defects of character is such a gift!  And remembering that I am enough, that I am a gift with attributes that no one else on the planet has, that keeps me grateful.  And when I’m grateful I’m in the moment.  And when I’m in the moment my Higher Power is in control.  That is where I strive to always be!

Thank you for letting me share my recovery.  I welcome any and all feedback as I am not on this journey alone.  

With much aloha, 

Dee Harris

For those interested in my artwork and gifts with a message of inspiration and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

From The Chopra Center

7 Steps to Loving Yourself Unconditionally

7 Steps to Loving Yourself Unconditionally 

By Deepak Chopra, M.D. (/bios/deepak-chopra) 

A mother loves her newborn child without reservation, and romantic love, in its first stages of infatuation, can make the beloved seem perfect. But most of us doubt that love without reservation, completely forgiving and accepting, exists in our everyday lives.  Looking in the mirror, all of us see too many flaws and remember too many past wounds and failings to love ourselves without also putting a limit on it. 

Dee:

I’m looking in the bathroom mirror like so many times before.  I feel contempt and disgust at the person in the reflection.  That person is nothing but a loser and the “L” made from her hand placed over her forehead says it loud and clear.  That person is a waste of space on this planet.

That person is me.  That person cannot go one damned day without drinking.  No matter how hard I try, I HAVE TO drink everyday.  No matter how many different ways I try to stop, nothing works.

My brain cannot figure this out.  I am not stupid.  I graduated cum laude from college.  I am not homeless.  I am married with two boys and have a home, two cars, a dog and a job.  I am not abused.  I come from a supportive and loving family and have many dear friends.  So what gives?

I am an alcoholic.  I find this out when I check myself into rehab.  I put myself there when I missed my shift at work and just couldn’t do this anymore.  Drink everyday starting in the morning, sobering up for my husband’s lunch at home, drinking again, passing out on the sofa using my kids coming home from school as my alarm clock to get up and get ready for work, still partially drunk or hung over.  

That’s what I remember about my drinking.  Fun, huh?  Life of the party?  No, I was a closet drinker because I was so ashamed about how much I drank, how often I drank, my black-outs and my pass-outs.

This journey has been the best thing that every happened to me.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not experienced what was meant to be.  I wouldn’t have a god of my understanding in my life today, guiding, protecting, teaching and loving me had I not had these experiences.  I wouldn’t have learned to live from my heart and shut off my head had I not bottomed out.  I wouldn’t have the self-love, self-worth and self-respect I have for myself today were I not an alcoholic.

In order to expand the love you experience now into unconditional love, a spiritual element is involved. There’s a path to unconditional love, as with any spiritual aspiration, and on this path success depends on allowing the goal to unfold naturally. The world’s wisdom traditions have provided many road maps, but here I’ll offer a few common elements without religious overlay. 

Step 1: Make Contact with Your Inner Self 

This implies paying more attention to self-care. Through meditation, self-reflection, or contemplation, and the experience of quiet at least a few minutes every day, you make contact with your inner world. You learn to appreciate and enjoy it. 

Dee:

I have been blessed to have been introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous which started my new journey through life.  Because I did what was suggested in AA which was to attend meetings, get a sponsor, work the 12 Steps, read the Big Book, and be of service, I have a new life and a purpose today of sharing my experience strength and hope.  And because I have a Power Greater Than Myself over to whom I can turn my will and my life, I have can be grateful and humble.

I have learned to live in the present moment, not dwell on the past, nor fear the future.  I can be mindful, respectful, compassionate and loving today which means I no longer have to battle my ego nor be the selfish and fearful human being I once was.  

Living this spiritual life in AA has opened up new doors for me practicing meditation and yoga and taking a genuine and heart-felt interest in humanity and our planet.  But I still am a human being with weaknesses and defects; I still find myself at times in my old behavior.  I still like to eat the occasional Twinkie or Big Mac, I can still curse at you and flip you off in traffic, I can still think of lies I to tell you and things I want to hide fro you, but I can still love myself for who and what I am, and I definitely don’t have to beat up on myself nor take a drink.

You see, when my old behavior, my negative behavior, surfaces, I get this shitty and uncomfortable feeling in my gut.  It doesn’t feel good and definitely doesn’t feel right.  It doesn’t serve me.  When that happens I know that I am not in the moment and I am not one with my god.  So I get myself back in the moment, get grateful, and get humble and remember where I came from, where I am now, and remember who is in charge.  Not me.  I cherish these feelings, embrace them, then let them go.  My life and my behavior once again gets happy, joyous and free.

Step 2: Honestly Face Your Inner Obstacles and Resistance 

Most people don’t like to face their weaknesses (http://www.chopra.com/ccl/break-on-through-a- meditation-for-overcoming-obstacles) and flaws because they judge against them. But you are only human, and you will find that your sense of insecurity and anxiety represents feelings from the past that can be healed. In fact, they want to be released if you will give them a chance. 

The first step in healing is to look inside and let the process of releasing begin. Healing can proceed along many avenues—from therapy and support groups, to energy work, massage, mind-body programs, and various Eastern medical approaches. 

Dee:

Working the 12 Steps has helped me to discover what makes Dee tick.  I’ve learned how fear-based I have lived and discovered why.  I have unlearned all the bullshit to which I have been exposed throughout my entire life by a society of power-hungry go-getters, critics, and back-stabbers.  I don’t have resentments, but acceptance and compassion for the negatives that surround me and my fellows.  I still have hope.

I am still my own worst critic.  Having been a people-pleaser, perfectionist, and over-achiever for most of my life is hard to unlearn but is proving to be the greatest gift I can give myself.  If I can remember that my god loves me just the way I am, that I am just the way I am at this moment, that I have nothing to prove to anyone and answer only to myself and my god, I can cease to be so hard on myself.  

I can scrape together a pile of Dee assets that makes me special and unique to this world, gifts that no one else on the planet has.  I can remember that God has given me a special purpose and trusts me to carry out that purpose.  Hey, yeah.  I AM pretty special.

Step 3: Deal with Old Wounds 

One could also call this advanced healing. As old residues of negative emotions are released, you find that you are stuck with resentments, hurts, and scars that must be dealt with. Beneath the scar such wounds feel very fresh. It takes help from someone else who understands the situation to go into these dark places—it could be a close friend, mentor, confidante, priest, or therapist. No one can do this work alone, I feel, but I’m not underlining any sense of danger or fear. The work can be done safely, without anxiety, and once you start, there’s a tremendous sense of exhilaration, even triumph in the process. Just find someone who has walked the path successfully and sympathizes with you fully. 

Dee:

I have found a group of like-minded people in AA and I have found that they genuinely care about me and ask for nothing in return.  They do not judge.  They have compassion.  They are mindful and respectful.  They let me speak my mind and guide me into my heart.  They do not interrupt nor point the finger of guilt nor shame at me.  I feel most comfortable being around the AA fellowship where I can easily be myself and be rigorously honest.  

Having had many trusted sponsors throughout my years of sobriety has given me a new freedom where the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.  Working the 12 Steps of AA with these women has helped me to make sense of this life, but, more importantly, to make sense of ME.

I can now see and own up to my part in resentments, hurts and scars.  I can embrace these feelings for helping bring me to this level in my life, thank them for coming, and then let them lovingly blow away into the clouds.  I no longer feel so vulnerable, guilt-ridden nor ashamed.  I no longer feel hate nor play the part of the victim.  Everything happens for a reason and I can look at it in a positive way and grow and prosper, or I can sit on the pitty-pot and stay stagnant in this pile of shit.

Step 4: Forgive Your Past 

You shouldn’t jump too quickly into forgiveness. It’s all too easy to pretend to yourself that you forgive old hurts (http://www.chopra.com/ccl/how-to-release-the-past-and-return-to-love) and abusive treatment, when in fact what you are eager for is to escape the pain. The absence of pain, achieved through healing, gives you the right foundation for deep, lasting forgiveness. Self-acceptance is required first, and the realization that you—and everyone around you—has been doing the best they can from their own level of awareness. This can be quite a challenge when someone has hurt you deeply, but you can’t fully separate from wrongdoing until you accept that others are trapped inside a reality they can’t escape. 

Dee:

We all have our demons, secrets, dysfunctions and darkness.  Trying to put myself in others’ shoes when I feel they have wronged helps me to be more compassionate, forgiving and understanding.  I do not know what kind of life anyone else on this planet has gone through.  

I cannot judge you unless I have walked in your shoes.  So I don’t.  We are all just brothers and sisters doing our best sharing this planet.  If I can forgive others in this way, I must forgive myself in the same loving manner.  So I must believe that my life has unfolded and is unfolding in just perfectly.  No finger-pointing, blame or guilt about what I have done in my past.  No more hating and loathing myself for thoughts and actions that are now behind me.  They have brought me to today.  Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love are now in my vocabulary…are now in my life.

Step 5: Accept where You Are Right Now 

This, too, is a stage you shouldn’t jump into too quickly. The present moment isn’t free of the burdens, memories, and wounds of the past. They must be attended to before you can look around, breathe easily, and love the moment you are in right now. A good beginning is to catch yourself when you have a bad memory and say, “I am not that person anymore.” For the truth is that you aren’t. 

Dee:

Stay in the present moment right in front of your nose.  Dwelling in or on the past, whether with good or bad memories, doesn’t serve us but should be used to help us to achieve a level greater than where we were then.  Worrying or fearing the future doesn’t serve us either for it may never come and only drives us to shit on this precious moment in which we should appreciating now.  

And in this present moment of appreciation and gratitude may come the humility that God is in control and will do the worrying for us, so to speak.  He’s got our backs and wants us to enjoy His gifts fully.  It takes so much energy to worry and fret, to be negative and resentful.  Being positive is being free and faithful.

Step 6: Form Relationships where You Feel Loved and Appreciated 

The path to unconditional love isn’t meant to be lonely. You should walk it with people who reflect the love you see in yourself. You are likely to look around at some point and realize that not everyone among your family and friends are in sync with your aspirations. Without rejecting them, you have the right to find people who understand the path you’re walking and sympathize with it. They are more likely to appreciate you for who you are now and who you want to become. 

Dee:

Isn’t it wonderful that we are not all like-minded?  That we all have our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions that are right for us, in this moment.  No one is right.  No one is wrong.  We are all on our own journeys and if my beliefs don’t serve you, walk away, as I shall when your beliefs don’t jive with mine.  I don’t have to start a war with you nor kill you and all those who believe the way you do.  I can just move on and let you live in peace, sharing this planet, and respecting you and your ideals.  Life would be pretty boring if we all thought and acted the same.

But the feeling of acceptance and comfort that comes from being with like-minded people is like apple pie…comfort food…that nourishes the soul; it’s such a gift, an intended gift from my Higher Power, given me with the hopes I am open and aware enough to see and experience it.  

I am finding that the more I allow myself to just be me, to open up to others, to be rigorously honest, there are way more like-minded people who come into my Dee Bubble.  And when I can remember to get out of self, to give you the mindfulness, respect and compassion that you deserve, we have a win-win relationship, bonding, gift.

Step 7: Practice the Kind of Love You Aspire to Receive 

Long ago, around the time I wrote a book called, The Path to Love (https://www.amazon.com/Path- Love-Spiritual-Strategies-Healing/dp/060980135X), I encountered many people—most of them women —who were constantly waiting for “the one” to show up and sweep them off their feet. But the only way to realistically find “the one” is to be “the one” yourself. Like attracts like (http://www.chopra.com/ccl/intention-attention-no-tension-3-tips-to-master-the-law-of-attraction), and the more you live your own ideal of love, the more your light will draw another light to you. This single point, I am told, has helped most people find their love. 

If you spend time every day with one or two of these steps, you will find a practical road that takes you to more love than you have in your life today. The steps unfold naturally once you begin to devote attention to them. You were born to be perfectly loved and completely lovable. The loss of that status is what’s unnatural—not wanting to return to it—and the return means reconnecting with your true self. The path has been walked successfully for centuries, so I hope you take heart and join the fortunate ones who aspire this high. There is no better time to begin than now. 

Dee:

Today I am living a spiritual life which happened to come from hitting a bottom in my active alcoholism.  Many find this spiritual life in many ways, on their paths and journeys, with their Higher Powers.  I find such joy sharing my experience, strength and hope with them as they share theirs’ with me.

More so than not I am living what I have learned from Alcoholics Anonymous, but could have been learned in many of the other awesome and helpful support groups we have available to us.  I encourage everyone to find a support group, or even a person, that can help you to be the best you that your god intended you to be.

We have all been given our journeys and it’s up to us what we’re going to do with it.  I have learned that choosing negativity uses way too much energy these days and doesn’t serve me.  So I choose to be positive, optimistic and loving.  I choose to go with the flow of life that my Higher Power intended me to experience.  So as my Higher Power is in the driver’s seat, I enjoy riding along in the passenger seat learning, meeting, experiencing LIFE just as it was meant to be.

And the icing on the cake, the rich butter-cream goodness that takes me to a whole new level and brings me even more joy that I could have ever asked for or even know existed, is that I get to share this goodness with you and everyone who enters my Bubble.  I do this by going to AA meetings, by opening the restaurant door for you, by smiling at you in the parking lot, by writing this blog, by creating art to offer you with the hopes I can bring hope and optimism, self-love and self-worth to your home, but, more so, into your heart!

I encourage you to get back to me with your thoughts and feelings.  We are all in this together and are on this planet to love and help each other.  With much aloha, Dee Harris

For those of you who would like to see the Art with a Message of Inspiration that I have created just for you, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Want to go even deeper? Learn to improve your internal dialogue and create a more positive outlook at our emotional freedom workshop, Healing the Heart (http://www.chopra.com/programs/healing-the-heart). Experience support as you are guided through our 5-step healing process and leave feeling more connected to a complete state of mindfulness. Click here to learn more. (http://www.chopra.com/programs/healing-the-heart) 

About the Author 

Deepak Chopra, M.D. (/bios/deepak-chopra) Co-Founder 

Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and a professor at UCSD. Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. For the last three years, Greatist.com recognizes Dr. Chopra as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.” The World Post…Read more (/bios/deepak-chopra) 

From http://www.chopra.com/articles/7-steps-to-loving-yourself-unconditionally?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=160927+-+CCL+Newsletter&utm_campaign=Newsletter2016927 

The Matrix of Manifestation: Focus

Energy of Attraction 

Welcome to the 21-Day Meditation Experience, Energy of Attraction. We are honored you’re joining us as we seek our true nature and discover our path to health and happiness. You will discover your soul’s purpose and create a life in which all things are within reach.

Day 10

The Matrix of Manifestation: Focus

“Follow your deepest dream, the one you had as a kid… but stay focused.”

 ― Donal Logue

Our meditation today deals with the second element of the matrix of manifestation: our focus of attention. Just as focused light through a magnifying glass becomes more concentrated and powerful, the light of our consciousness also becomes more powerful when our attention is focused. This concentrated awareness awakens the dormant intelligence within our intention. It is like the warmth that helps the seed of desire sprout.

Today’s meditation will show us that the mind can experience deep focus easily, without strain or effort. When the mind is quiet, deep focus comes effortlessly and naturally. Unbounded awareness and sharp focus not only coexist, but they are mutually supportive, and together they form two of the three elements of awareness in the matrix of manifestation.

DEE:

Much harder for me to focus rather that be in unbounded awareness.  Knowing my Higher Power has all control in His omnipresent and omnipotent way helps me to be in unbounded awareness.

But focusing this constantly chattering alcoholic mind is a totally different endeavor.  I am allowed just short moments of one thought or no thought.  A second here and a second there.  I earnestly look forward to the quieting of my mind.  And then the focus.

CENTERING THOUGHT

My awareness is focused.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Ksham Hoom
My universal awareness holds a single focus.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 10 – Focus.  Once we recognize ourselves as unbounded awareness we have this magnificent opportunity.  We can direct that awareness toward life-giving soul-affirming desires, because what you focus on expands.  So when you give your full attention to that which fills you up, that which brings you light, that which connects you with your passion and purpose, there’s a whole new dimension of joy awaiting you.  

Don’t give your attention to that which you don’t want because the energy of attraction is powered by focus.  Sustained faithful attention to your vision is what nourishes your desires and allows them to blossom.

DEE:

I don’t want negativity in my life.  It encourages agitation in me.  Agitation takes away my peace and calmness.  Therefore, I strive to live in a positive light; even when many may consider certain occurrences negative, I tend to find a positive side to them.

And I find that when I live with a positive mindset, more positivity enters my life.  Not to say that shit doesn’t happen; I just choose to not let it hit the fan.  I am constantly reminding myself that everything happens for a reason and this moment is just perfect.

OPRAH:

So unbounded awareness reaches out and unites with the infinite magnificence of everything that’s possible.  Pure awareness fused with faithful focus is the magic that creates manifestation.  Deepak takes us to this magical meeting point now in today’s meditation.

DEEPAK:

The second element in the art of desire is focus or concentration.  When a magnifying glass is held up to the sun, all of the sun’s light is focused to a point.  In the same way when you have a specific desire, you’re focusing pure awareness into a point.  The state of attention focused on a desire is called Arana in Sanskrit.  Once again the word isn’t important.  What’s important is the creative power that increases the more one-pointed you are.  

In everyday usage concentrating the mind brings up images of hard work…the struggle to avoid distractions and keep your mind on the task at hand.  But not in this case.  If you are sitting in the silent depth of the mind, focus comes easily.  It’s as natural as any other thought.  The magic is contained in the coming together of two things that seem like opposites…unbounded awareness and focused awareness.

But they don’t really contradict each other.  A laser beam is the sharpest most focused light in existence and yet the power that creates it is generated by the total unbounded field of light.  Now you know that the key to unharnessing the energy of attraction requires being unbounded and focused, at the same time.

This is what happens in meditation.  Unbounded awareness is the reservoir of possibilities.  A desire is like the water you take from the reservoir one visit at a time.  Meditation practice trains our attention to return to an easy focus…the mantra…after experiencing silent pure awareness the gap where the mantra isn’t present.  In time your mind will have this ability all of the time and every thought will have full creative power.

DEE:

So hard to grasp.  I must just remember baby steps.  Everything in baby steps.  Bits and pieces.  I have faith that it will come together as best as possible, in the perfect way for me, when I am ready.  Like with learning to live my life without alcohol, one day at a time, faking it ’til making it, I shall continue on my meditation journey.  Just remember, in time.

Thank you for sharing this meditation with me.  I look forward to your feedback and sharing this journey with you!

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those looking for reminders to help you stay present and focused, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

DEEPAK:

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “My awareness is focused.  My awareness is focused.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Ksham Hoom.”  This mantra easily collects the diverse tendencies of the mind into a single impulse or point of focus.  As you repeat the mantra let your awareness easily draw into your silent center of attention.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Ksham Hoom.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open and receive just a little more.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra “Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.”  Please continue with your meditation.  I’ll mind the time.  And when it’s time to end you’ll hear me ring a soft bell.  “Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.”  Just mentally, “Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.”

Chopra Center Meditation