It's true that WHATEVER WE FOCUS ON BECOMES BIGGER. Psychology once believed that being a positive or negative person was inherent in our nature. Not so! We can teach ourselves to find a positive in any situation. You've heard the saying - "every cloud has a silver lining". It's true! We can choose to focus on something that went well, or the memory of a moment that was a little better than the moment we're currently experiencing. Focusing on the positive must never be at the expense of acknowledging real pain, sadness, or difficulties, we do ourselves a disservice if we take a sunshine and roses approach to loss, struggle or pain. Give yourself credit for having the strength to go on, for setting and achieving a small goal (getting up, going for a walk, making someone else's day brighter). You deserve a brighter moment, allow yourself to find a flower, remember a friendship, or simply celebrate YOU.
As a mental health worker, I'm most concerned when people shrink their social world, retreating from people and connections that used to be important. Our mind can play a big part in this retreat, justifying our behaviour. The mind can tell us we don't have the time or energy, we've been hurt or misunderstood, or that people just don't want us around. Sometimes we think our house isn't tidy enough, or hospitality warm enough, our friendship good enough (not enough is a very common distortion of thinking). I have a friend who was once told that people only tolerated him because they felt sorry for him. This special and talented person spent many years with a posture towards others that seemed tentative, timid and retiring. Once he came to realise that PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKED AND CARED ABOUT HIM, AND HE'S GOOD COMPANY, his world changed for the better.
Of course, sometimes we need a certain kind of person, one who listens, encourages and leaves us feeling stronger and more lovable. Such a person does not give advise, certainly does not criticize or judge, and never fills our ears with their (greater, bigger, more woeful) life. And guess what - you can be the kind of friend to others that you want them to be to you. Try this on for size - smile at someone. Even behind a mask, eyes can smile and the voice can be warm, friendly and kind. Try it - you have much to give.
You are wired for love. Sometimes we feel we're running on empty, nothing inside, nothing to give. Self-compassion is a new-ish idea, because we have recognized that some of us don't have an awareness of giving to ourselves. Try this: place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take 3 deep, slow breaths, saying "I am loved. I am safe. I am special." Now reverse the placement of your hands, and repeat. Does one placement seem more comfortable and effective at creating a sense of love and safety than the other? When I tried this out, I found the placement that mirrored how I held my babies when they were small created the most comfort. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE SAFE. YOU ARE SPECIAL.
Dominie Nelson - Counsellor
Dominie is a counsellor, supervisor and educator with over 20 years experience. She helps her clients feel equipped and supported to meet their goals, hopes and dreams; working together to help her clients identify what gets in the way of living their chosen life from their best self. She can help with personal resilience, and well-being, communication skills, management of and recovery from trauma, grief and loss support.
More information can be found at www.life-counselling.com.au