Your Flaws are beautiful! Positive Vibes Series: Self-Acceptance

Accepting all facets of yourself elevates you to a higher level of your being. When you recognize your weaknesses, you shift towards a mindset that thrives from a position of strength. Imagine in a job interview where you are focused on pointing out your best qualities, skill sets, and ambitions, and as soon as the question of listing your weaknesses is raised, you are quick to hush it up. How? Either by changing the subject swiftly or by expressing your enthusiasm to acquire the required skill.

Regardless of which response you choose, you have to realize that self-acceptance is free of any qualification. It happens when you are deeply connected to your true self, and you are aware that your passion, your inadequacies, your resolve, or shortcomings are part of you. Just by spicing up your self-perception with a little bit of encouragement and a mindset keen to learn from mistakes, you will stamp the sign of self-acceptance on your résumé. Without it, your mental state will suffer, and most probably, all the actions taken to improve the side effects will be less helpful.

In particular, if you feel anxious or stressed from a flaw in your character, all kinds of practices to reduce the unwanted emotions will be quick to fade from lack of self-acceptance. All the negative self-talk and thoughts will limit the gray matter in your brain region, which helps control your emotions and stress. The more you feel bad about yourself, more stress signals disrupt your emotional wellbeing.

How to strengthen self-acceptance

  • Reframe the negative criticism and change the narrative by refocusing on the positive aspects of yourself.
  • Control your state of mind by being self-aware. For instance, when you feel bitter, observe that your focus is evaluating your emotions based on your triggered feelings. This approach is misleading. Move away from how you think and assess the feeling based on your values before you react or retaliate.
  • Practice self-transcendence – Lack of self-acceptance is often beyond your conscious control. For example, the intentional process of forgiveness, whether oneself or another, has lots of roundabouts, water puddles, and intersections. The path is confusing since you can either choose the clear road so that you can keep going without wasting time or get to the other jammed packed lane, hampered by the gridlock, and be miserable. The first step is to accept that the two lanes exist side by side. The same acknowledgment should be extended to different facets of your character. In such a situation, self-transcendence is constructive. This positive trait aims to create awareness and unity with oneself, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety.

Taking a step to look inward and rely more on your values rather than identify your being with things outside of yourself reframes your self-perception. For instance, transcendental meditation or connecting at a deeper level by contribution to a venture or a community de-clutters your mind of unnecessary and negative energies. At the heart of all your practices, unity is your guide. Adhering to a higher purpose, confronting your fears, staying positive are the extensive attempts to reach self-acceptance.

 

Featured image by Durmoosh

Cultivate resilience which is a formula for happiness! – Positive Vibes Series

You can be isolated, knocked down, lose your reputation or your business, your lover may call it a day, well many things can go wrong, and consequently, you want to crawl under a rock and stay there forever! The truth is that heartbreaks, sufferings, and pain are real and part of life. By acknowledging this fact, you realize that quitting or withdrawing to a dark abyss is not an option unless you want to be part of the extinction club’s honorary member.

Kathrin Federer
Kathrin Federer

Human history proves that positive adaptation, better known as resilience, is part of our survival regardless of our different predispositions or vulnerabilities. We dare to learn and face dire circumstances, pick up the pieces, and triumph. While traumatic experiences shape our resilience, the good news is that this quality can be cultivated.

“Everyone faces up more bravely to a thing for which he has long prepared himself, sufferings, even being withstood if they have been trained for in advance.” – Seneca

What Seneca refers to is your ability to intervene and forge your resilience by conforming to Stoic philosophy. The school of thought encourages thoughtful analysis into the dark web of your fears and agonies by distinguishing between what you can control and what you don’t have control over, even more between the reality and our perception of the situation.

Oleg Shupliak
Oleg Shupliak

All this considered, whether you are currently experiencing difficult times or have undergone one, whether you are fearful of what the future has in store, employing a stoic strategy helps you cope with the challenges. Begin with picturing the worst that can happen and trust that you are capable of bouncing back from the unthinkable. The idea is preparing yourself to face the unknown and what could go wrong, and the goal is not about being less fearful but building courage. Tapping into your inner strength and to you emplace systems to build up your resilience.

Initially, reflect on your life vision, the kind of life you want to lead, where you want to be in 3 or 5 years, what is the purpose of your existence. Next, write down the significant past experiences that have shaped your emotions to understand where you are in life. For both exercises, go to self-authoring.com and use their online writing programs to explore your past, present, future by gaining a deep understanding of yourself.

Subsequently, consider exerting the following practical efforts recommended by experts in your life strategy and increase your capacity to recover from difficulties:

  • Develop healthy eating habits and regular exercise to strengthen your overall health and increase the chances of better and faster recovery from injuries or sickness.
  • Practice forgiveness – Nelson Mandela said: “When I walked out of the gate, I knew that I was still in prison if I continued to hate these people.” Forgiveness is a necessary attitude to build resilience and not an alternative.
  • Know that there is no guarantee in life (the only guarantee is that we are mortals).
  • Invest in people and relationships that are supportive and encourage you to get through hard times.
  • Commit to routines – establish priorities and stay with it even when things are out of control. For instance, mapping your day, being aware of the cost of the wasted time, performing tasks that are integral to your goals will weed out the act of procrastination. As your actions become your habits, you can restrain impulses and become less reliant on motivation and take responsibility to move forward. “Foolish are those who…have no aim to which they can direct every impulse and, indeed, every thought.” – Marcus Aurelius.
  • Have back up plans
  • Refrain from putting all your eggs in one basket
  • Transform your resentment to energy and channel it towards your goals

 

 

 

Featured image by Fernanda Suarez 

Forgive – Positive Vibes Series

Forgiveness happens when you no longer feel angry, resentful towards someone or wish to punish them. Forgiveness does not happen overnight. It feels like stepping into a dark empty space, leaving behind the nyctophobia mind at the door. Overwhelmed with anxiety, you move hesitantly, feeling powerless over your fear of the unknown. Your racing heart warns you of the prominent threats. The risk of being humiliated, taken for a sucker, and asking yourself thousands of times over, why you let those rotten-minded people off the hook?

The simple answer is: You want peace and growth. You do not want inflammation in your body. You do not want to suffer anxiety or depression. “If hope gives you wings, forgiveness will often be what you will need to get off the ground.” The lingering idea of revenge is tasty but just like wasabi, it gets you an endorphin rush from the pain and after a second, oops! it dissolves. Yes, sometimes things do not make sense, you try to teach the wrongdoers a lesson by mirroring back or calling out someone for acting shockingly bad towards you, albeit their lack of intelligence, they eclipse their misery and at times bitterness with innocence! 

You want to release the negativity, but keep in mind the progression is slow, you want to blow away the anger but it cannot pass through the first line of defense meshed around you by your ego. You will go two steps forward and then five steps back. Reluctantly you pick yourself up knowing well that the only way is to stand on your feet and continue on the path of self-care with humility.

Digital Artist – Alper Yemenicigil

How? Well, you can choose to practice the five-step REACH model developed by Everett Worthington:

  • Recall – The first step is to objectively recall the misdeed. Do not scrutinize with negativity light nor allow victimhood behavior to take over your entire existence. In fact, wallowing in self-pity makes you perceive the world and people around you through a paranoid mental lens. While it is important to acknowledge that you have suffered but you won’t be able to forgive and go forward in life unless you step out of the victim role. Instead of assigning blame, take responsibility. Stop obsessing about what-ifs and rise above the primitive ego.
  • Empathize – Next, make the effort to put aside your biases and try to understand the other person’s way of thinking and reasoning. Make sure that you do not underplay the wrong but only grasp their inner-struggles, their intentions or mindset.
  • Altruism – Subsequently, consider forgiveness as an altruistic gift. Look back on a time that you transgressed and you were forgiven.
  • Commit – Kindly, commit yourself to forgive. Work on your commitment. Write your wounds in a journal or make the effort to practicing small acts of forgiveness. For instance when someone cuts you off in traffic, do not take it personally, just let it slide.
  • Hold on – Finally, hold on to your forgiveness. This stage is difficult since something can trigger the memory and you are back to square one. Yes, you have been hurt, you have accepted what has transpired, analyzed yourself, learning from your mistakes, recognizing your faults and at this point see yourself as a survivor. It is not about pressing on the delete button but changing your reactions towards its memory.

Throughout the process, remove yourself from despicable situations. Surround yourself with good people. Well-intentioned individuals that take your hand and lift you up. People who will be happy if you succeed and empathize with your sadness. Immerse in laughter, positive activities and hone your social conscious to be useful. Re-connect with your inspired self. The one that seeks knowledge, the one that is creative, the one that hates stagnation. The one that blows out its anger to get as close to indifference towards the offenders, the one that is reluctant to live in regret of dwelling in the past and letting the present and future slip away. The one that is determined and the one that opens its heart to travel the arch from the bruised ego to feeling neutral and ultimately forgiveness.

Lastly, bear in mind that at times the perpetrators are ignorant and will never realize that your forgiveness was self-purification pilgrimage. As a matter of fact, once you reach this state of mind you will be oblivious to their interpretation.

 

Featured image by Toxic Treats

 

Letting Go – Foundation of Mindfulness #7

Changing the habit of non-acceptance

  • Let the sensations come and go
  • Do not take things personally
  • Acceptance is not choosing over your preference
  • Let go of control; not everything is what we imagine nor what we believe
  • Do not react to the unwanted situation
  • Take your focus away from what you agree or disagree
  • Recognize that flaws do exist in life, in people, and your doings and point of views
  • Detach yourself from distressing thought by not giving too much weight to it
  • Create a supportive slogan for yourself to accept things as they are in challenging moments

Ultimately, by allowing things to be as they are and staying neutral, you will learn to cultivate an acceptance attitude to reduce your anger, remain calm, and eventually find solutions. Remind yourself that the sensations that you feel are magnified. Just like in a horror movie, the knife is on the kitchen counter, but it does not mean that you will be stabbed with it. Being mindful is to know that you don’t have to solve everything nor to change it at once.

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Art by Alex Gross

How to let go

The body

  • Observe your hurtful and discouraging thoughts
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing and imagine that the frustrating emotion flows away with your exhalation

Emotions and feelings

  • Instead of ruminating on the story and inflating the situation with fear and panic, take it at face value
  • Sometimes it is best to engage with the negative thoughts and to confront them with counter argument
  • Know that if something doesn’t go your way is not the end of the world, not necessarily other bad things will continue to happen
  • Set an intention to realize the root cause of the negative thoughts, tension and frustrations
  • Journalling your feelings is helpful and sometimes physical venting like yelling off into a pillow works
  • Recognize that you have a choice to bid farewell to the hurt
  • Create peaceful images to call to mind as a support system
  • Realize that you are not in the centre of the universe
  • In frustration ask yourself is this who you really are? Then align yourself with your peaceful and intelligent self

When you cultivate peace in your attitude towards life, you are diffusing fear. Instead of kicking yourself and others over mistakes, past hurts or old injustices, learn to detach and let go of the anxiety that is brewing from the fear, criticism or offence.  It is satisfying to expose with rage the wrongdoers, vicious people or storm over unfairness but letting go with compassion and forgiveness makes you stronger. The idea is not to ignore nor to tolerate or to yield to unjust but to see things as they are! Your strength to analyze the situation with its risks and being able to shut off the anxieties which cripple and bring you to a depressive mood gives you the control over your emotions and allows you to accumulate the best possible outcome.

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Art by Merelle Fabien

For further information refer to “The Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Feature image by Michael Bergt

Tell Your Brain To Shut Up and Listen!

As promised, I embarked on the practice of mindfulness meditation to learn useful techniques on how to change our state of mind deliberately. The practice serves as a navigator through the ups and downs of life, transcending the fear and seeing things or the problem as they are. Meditation takes you to a place deep within yourself, a bridge to your inner wisdom that helps you stabilize distress—the optimal formula to nurture the best version of yourself.

At its core, the concept of mindful meditation is nothing more than being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. It is not always about sitting in the Burmese position (mind you, it does help) and chanting a mantra but to be present at the moment. As Jon Kabat-Zinn writes in “Catastrophe Living,” unless you change your way of looking at things, no type of meditation will be useful in the long run. He frames a set of 7 fundamental attitudes that will help with the practice of being present. Non-judgingpatiencebeginner’s mindtrustnon-strivingacceptance, and letting go are to be part of your frame of mind to channel your energies and reach an alpha state. I will dive deeper into each of these attitudes in my upcoming “Mind Series.” 

The practice needs commitment! In the beginning, it will be very hard to include the above attitudes in your thought process, but merely keeping them in mind and applying them in small increments in your day-to-day ways, from eating habits to rituals or working systems, will eventually be ingrained in your thinking.

  • A good place to start is to take notice of your daily habits. For instance, pay attention to what you are eating as if it is for the first time that you are seeing or tasting that food. You can try with just one fruit or any other produce that you like. This exercise involves minding one moment to another and can be extended to other tasks and routines. 
  • Intentionally, build up your efforts and set aside a time during the day to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing.
  • Taking notice of the breath is the anchor that shifts our battling mind and anxieties to a relaxing and calming stage. The turbulence is still there, but even if it’s for a few minutes, this exercise enables you to reconnect to your ability to stay calm.

 

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Photo courtesy of rafyA creative art designs
  • Diaphragmatic breathing – the idea is to intentionally contract the diaphragm muscle and relax your belly during the inhalation to rise and deflate on exhalation. Lie down on your back or stretch out on a recliner put one hand on your belly. Bring your attention to your hand and feel it move. Practice for 15 minutes every day. (“The power of Breathing, Jon Kabat-Zinn) 
  • The other way of practicing mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of your breath during the day.

 

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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com
  • Kindly observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment and turn your focus on your breath each time you start dwelling on them.
  • Note the persistent thoughts, detect the emotional threats of the self-centered sentiments, anger, hate, or different moods.
  • Recognize that what comes to your mind is only a thought. By redirecting your attention to your breath, you will detach any value to the lingering thought, and gradually, you will have the strength to intentionally let go of the negative emotions and calm your brain.
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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com

The whole process is not about pushing the unwanted emotions or thoughts away but cultivating the courage to see as they are. Meditation is about accepting the contents of your mind, regaining calm to reach the peaceful brain wave, and finding clarity.

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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com

Explore your rhythms and pulses, and in concert with your restyled thinking at the same time integrating gratitudecompassionkindnessforgivenessgenerosity, and tolerance, steadilyyou can lead a robust lifestyle.

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Art of Alex Gross