“If you can manage to experience three positive emotions for every one negative emotion … you dramatically improve your health and your ability to successfully tackle any problem you're facing.” ~ Jane McGonigal
My husband was out of town and my youngest child wanted me to sit with her every night while she fell asleep. I used this time to watch some really amazing TED talks.Jane McGonigal. Photo from her TED bio page
One talk that piqued my interest and stimulated some mental connecting-of-dots was by Jane McGonigal, a game developer... who has noticed that games that encourage us into optimism, cooperation, and creativity can actually lead us to approach our daily lives with the same outlook (link to her talk at the bottom of this post).
It seems... that perception is everything. People perceiving themselves as competent, capable, powerful, able to produce the desired change... that perception trumps physical discomfort as an indicator of how much people will feel that their lives are worthwhile. While this is where she leaves the talk... it's where I'd like to begin. Because this is where healing begins.
To know that our mindset is directly related to our ability to heal is incredibly powerful. It means that we don't have to manage healing first (be it physical, emotional, or mental) BEFORE we see ourselves as worthy of healing, as lovable, capable, and full of gratitude. In fact, that's backwards. We must perceive the possibility before we can take steps to make it happen for us.
So, what steps can you take today... to do something that encourages a positive, strong, grateful state of mind? If you're not feeling well perhaps you could take some time to make a brief list of things that you are grateful for. Get physically active... take a walk around the block... dance... walk your dog... or take time to stretch fully. Anything that gets you moving encourages blood flow and movement in the cerebral spinal fluid that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Connect with a friend, your community, or nature. Challenge your brain and stick with it. Choose wisely, so that it takes effort, but is not so complicated that you'll give up. Do a Sudoku puzzle, make some art, plan next week's menu and the groceries you'll need to make them.
That's a long list... don't let it be daunting. Choose one thing today and do it. Just... go ahead and do it. It doesn't have to be gigantic... just successful... and I think the other piece missing from the talk is to give yourself credit for it. I know that I, personally, often get to the end of my day and lament that I didn't do ANYTHING that day. That's not true. I'm not giving myself credit... I'm discounting what did get done... by saying these things to myself and relating my day to my husband. I did the dishes. I threw the ball for the dog. I HAVE to give myself credit for what I accomplished in order to feel up to doing more. If, instead, I berate myself for what I did not do... well... then I feel unmotivated to do what needs to be done the next day. Again... all back to perception. The keys to a shift in perception being lasting, though, is to 1) to acknowledge the deed that was accomplished, and 2) receive the resilience (read: motivation) that is gained from the completion. Which is to say... really let yourself understand and give credit for that success.
My 3-step prescription? Choose one thing. Do it. Acknowledge the accomplishment and receive the resilience.
I'm going to do this myself today... and I'll let you know tomorrow what I did. Will you do that for me too?
There have been discussions going on around me about using the word "healer" since I first got into this work about five years ago. Having come from a long background in academics (my kids understand my almost-PhD as 23rd grade)... I came down firmly in the camp that I could never call myself a "healer". It made me so very uncomfortable... and someone else using it made me wince. Really. My aversion to the term was intense.
So, each time this conversation inevitably came around (funny how those things we really need to come to terms with will follow us and give us repeated opportunities to do so)... I would consider the term again... and find its users full of hubris, of self-importance, and most offensively, claiming a power they most certainly did not have. I judged them harshly... and as unworthy of the term... which was how I judged myself. I searched for all kinds of terms that I could use to describe what I do... body translator, physical intuitive... but all of them required further explanation. So time wore on, and I learned to navigate the waters around the iceberg that is "healer" without causing any major damage to my ship. However, I did become aware that my mental controversy around the term was showing itself in my inability to talk with ease about my work. I would always hesitate when someone said, "What do you do?", because the first thing that my brain always did about half way through the question was to begin the dance around the language. It meant that my first sentence about what I do was always stuttered... and it cost me confidence.
Somewhere recently, though, between the consideration of how our breath is the metaphor for life... that conjunction of body, spirit, and mind... that drawing deep and real breaths is the first act to fully inhabiting our lives... and how shame inhibits that life so dangerously... that I realized that I have to claim the word "healer". In fact, even more than that, I WANT to claim the word. It is not that I consider myself a healer of others... not directly... but that I claim my truth as a healer of myself. I stand tall in my truth... and offer the possibility to others that they can embrace their healer too. I reflect "healer", and as such I am a healer. I am not unique in this... I don't have any more power than anyone else... we are all healers. The power is in the willingness to live life fully... to give voice to the shames that keep us small... that is healing. No one can do that for you. Healing is a door you must step through alone. But if you are willing to do it... by virtue of your healing, the invitation to live life fully goes out to others around you... and in that way we will all heal others by healing ourselves.
So here I stand, with my energetic roots in the ground, my weight in my feet, the support of the earth rising through my body to hold me tall, my heart open and full of grace... and I'm here to say...
I AM A HEALER
Which came first... the belief or the truth? Are we really taught to believe in the truth? Or are we told a story, a convincing one... that many people around us believe... and then we assume that it's true? How do you know when something is true anyway? Because someone tells you? What if someone tells you... "I love you!"... but then checks up on you wherever you go... or yells at you about being too fat/lazy/slow... not enough. Is it true that they love you? Does it feel like love? Or do you know when you see truth because you can feel it... experience it... like it comes from your bones?
When we believe something with certainty... no doubt about it... it becomes our truth. If we believe that we are not enough, we will experience ourselves as not enough. Our beliefs are so strong... so magnetic... that we find evidence only for what we already believe is true.
Healing, then... takes place when we develop the relationship with ourselves... really look at the voice that we use when we talk to ourselves. Does that voice make us feel like it's telling the truth? How does that voice get so distorted that we have lost sight of the perfection we were born with... that still resides inside of us? How do we rekindle that relationship... the one we had when we were small... when we lived from our truth... before we learned to hide it? It is not easy to pinpoint where and when these distortions became a part of our story.
The reason I believe that healing depends on each of us, is that it's critical to assess the inner voice... to find out what it believes is true... and to cultivate a relationship with that inner self. The relationship we hold within us... that voice that tells us that we're doing things well... or we're screwing up royally... that either gives us the compassion we need, or it criticizes us heavily... THAT is our most crucial relationship. We cannot get away from it... except to make ourselves numb. Many people take the route of numbness through excessive alcohol, drugs, working constantly, or by watching TV for hours on end. They do it because they don't know how to come to terms with that voice. They don't know how to change the relationship that dwells within.
Sometimes this requires someone to help us identify what our beliefs are... which ones get in our way and when. It's not easy to see your own beliefs. They are taken-for-granted... never questioned... many times simply because they have been there for so long... and are reinforced by others in our lives. I often find with clients that walking around these beliefs... asking if they're really true... today... personally... can bring much enlightenment and ease around the choices that they're making.
In the end, it comes down to cultivating self-compassion and trust with that voice within. That relationship magnetizes other relationships that are just like it... so that the relationships that you have with people around you are likely pretty decent reflections of the relationship you have with your inner self. Is that true for you?
I guess Emily Dickinson answered the questions I posed at the end of my last post. What it would be like to find yourself at the top of your To Do list? It would be ceding from the union that is our cultural consciousness. It would be sovereignty... like wearing a crown... like becoming the queen. It would be acquiescing to the truth that in order to live your life... to make your choices... must set down the definitions and names others have handed you... in favor of your own truth.
I'm ceded—I've stopped being Theirs
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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