“To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is not to have anxiety over imperfections.” ~Dogen Zenji
You are not perfect. I am not perfect. We are whole and connected in our imperfection and that is a good thing.
I’m just going to cut to the chase here because your time is precious and my stomach is saying I’ve got to eat lunch.
It is not uncommon for a client to confess to me that they can’t get the negative thoughts out of their head. All they can see is a sea of awful things that have happened to them, they are loosing faith in themselves and even in God.
3 Steps to Being Happier Right Now
1. Acceptance – The first step is to accept the fact that you feel badly right now. Don’t fight it. Struggling against the bad feeling, like a tiger in a snare, or hiding from it, like a turtle in its shell, only hurts you more. The bad feeling is not going to kill you. Recognize it: “Oh, there’s that damn bad feeling.” Accept it: You feel badly; that sucks. Breathe and relax.
2. ANTS – Once you are breathing more easily, take the next step. Ask yourself what might be feeding the bad feeling, keeping it alive? Automatic negative thoughts (ANTS) are usually the culprit. How do you talk to yourself? When I say we are all imperfect, are you quick to say, “Yes, but I have many more imperfections than most people.” That’s an ANT. When this happens, notice that the ANT is not your true voice. The ANT comes from another source that is hypercritical. Your voice is kind and loving. Let this knowledge settle in your heart and bring your attention to the third step.
3. Parent yourself with kindness – Bring kindness to the moment. Bring your attention to the feeling that is in you right now. It is likely physical, a feeling in your body, that is connected to the negative emotion. Possibly the emotion is shame or disgust, fear, sadness, or anger. Put your hand where the feeling is and imagine it as a little baby; maybe even imagine yourself as a little baby or little boy or girl. Now say to this part of yourself, “I care about your pain and I love you just the way you are.” Use whatever words fit for you. You can do this for 30 seconds or 30 minutes. Whatever feels right for you in the moment.
Feeling bad is not something we learn how to handle so that we never ever feel badly again. We are human. Bad feelings happen, catch us by surprise, or inch upon us like a rising tide. As long as we remember to give ourselves the same good self-compassion that we are so generous to give others, we’ll find our happiness.
Elvira G. Aletta, PhD
Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.
Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.
Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.
Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.
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