When you don’t Feel Enough
There’s nothing I love more than a rom-com and the classic Mark Darcy quote
“No, I like you very much. Just as you are.”
is often in my mind. You see – something has caught my attention in recent weeks, and I feel sad about it. I feel sad when I think about how many of us question ourselves as being the problem in the world. Think of ourselves as not good enough. I have spent the past few weeks sitting alongside others as they express to me, in their own unique ways, how they are the problem in a relationship. Or, despite working so hard all the time do not feel that they are doing enough or the right things. That even though they care so much they cannot behave in a way that demonstrates this. So many people beating themselves up for not being enough. The simple truth is – you are enough!
If you notice you are blaming yourself, putting yourself down or generally feeling that you are not good enough there are some simple ways you can use kindness towards yourself and others to change this. Many of us have found ourselves at a weird juncture and it is possibly time to remind yourself that you are amid a pandemic, and previously not permitted to arrange super exciting things for the family. Forced to stay at home in an unnatural way. The expectations many of us place on ourselves to continue living the same way in such different circumstances are unfair and unmaintainable.
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To survive, humans evolved to depend on the ability to build, nurture and maintain relationships with others. As a result, we have an unconscious, instinctual need to feel connected, to forge trust and love. Connection is therefore one of our most basic needs, without connection our risk of depression and physical illness increases.
Despite this awareness, in our western world technological changes cause us to become increasingly isolated. Social changes result in feelings of distrust which causes a vicious circle as we feel less inclined to create more social connections and assume trust.
In the west we try to remedy this by raising awareness of prejudice and decreasing antisocial behaviours. Eastern – in particular Buddhist – traditions focus on cultivating connection and love through loving kindness meditations. Research shows that even short bursts of daily loving kindness meditation increase positivity towards others and the self – including an increase in self-acceptance.
In one research study the participants followed a guided meditation which instructed them to close their eyes, relax and take deep breaths. The researchers asked the participants to imagine two loved ones standing aside them sending their love. After four minutes the participants received the instruction to open their eyes and redirect the feelings of love and compassion towards a photo of a stranger placed in front of them. They repeated some phrases that had the intention of directing their attention to the stranger, wishing them health, happiness, and well-being.
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Loving Kindness Meditation
When you use loving kindness meditation at home, begin by ensuring you have disturbance free time. Close your eyes and breath deeply into your abdomen, making your exhale slightly longer than your inhale. Allow all your muscles to rest and drop into the surface beneath you. Imagine feeling love towards yourself. Thank yourself and allow yourself to know for that moment that you are enough, exactly as you are. Repeat in your mind some positive affirmations that have relevance to you. Allow yourself to feel self-compassion. When you feel ready transfer the feelings of love towards another person in your life. Direct your love towards them and repeat the positive affirmations again. Continue for as long as you wish, bring in different people if you choose or stay with yourself if that feels right. Whatever you choose to do in the moment is right for you. Finish when you feel ready by slowly opening your eyes, wriggling your body, and taking as much time as you need to reorient yourself back into the space around you.
Kindness to others
Study after study informs us that kindness generates happiness, not only for the person receiving but for the person giving too. Compassionate and kind feelings cause changes in the part of the brain that manages position emotion. Just as we train a muscle, we can train our brain. When you make active choices to show kindness and compassion you train this brain area, which in turn makes the positive emotion easier to access.
See if you can bring some loving kindness into your life today and increase your compassion for yourself.