I wish I knew about this book by John Bradshaw years ago. This book was written in 1992 and I feel like most inner child therapy books or programs these days just copy bits and pieces from John's methodology. Most practitioners just refer to inner child as some younger version of yourself who was dependent and didn't get the love that you needed. The issue with that is that childhood is over many years and lots of different things happen over the course of those 10+ years. John does a great job of breaking down childhood to different stages and specifically addresses our different needs at each stage of childhood.
Until we do the original pain work, our future will always be contaminated by the pain from our past. For example, a person who never learned to trust confuses intensity with intimacy, obsession with care and control with security. Also, a witness to violence is a victim of violence. Acting out, or reenacting, is one of the most devastating ways in which our wounded inner child sabotages our lives.
When a child is wounded through neglect or abuse, his boundaries are violated. This sets the child up for fears of being either abandoned or engulfed. When a person know who he is, he doesn't fear being engulfed. When he has a sense of self-value and self-confidence, he doesn't fear being abandoned. Without strong boundaries, we cannot know where we end and others begin. We have trouble saying no and knowing what we want, which are crucial behaviours for establishing intimacy.
When our inner child is wounded, we feel empty and depressed. Life has a sense of unreality about it; we are there, but we are not in it. This emptiness leads to loneliness. Because we are never who we really are, we are never truly present. And even if people admire and hang on to us, we feel alone.
The frustration of a child's desire to be loved as a person and to have his love accepted is the greatest trauma that a child can experience. Parents need to give their children time, attention and direction, not use them to fill their own need. Use is abuse.
The wounded inner child is filled with unresolved energy resulting from the sadness of childhood trauma. One of the reasons we have sadness is to complete painful events of the past, so that our energy can be available for the present. When we are not allowed to grieve, the energy is frozen. Something that is actually trivial or quite innocuous is reacted to with intense emotion. This is a case of responding to what isn't there on the outside because it is still there on the inside.
These are the stages of childhood that we need to reclaim:
Infant Self: 0-9 months old
Toddler Self: 9 months - 3 years old
Preschool Self: 3 years - 6 years old
School-Age Self: 6 years to puberty
Adolescence: 13 years - 26 years old
This book is by Gabrielle Bernstein. She believes that the moment you choose to disconnect from the loving presence of the Universe, you lose sight of the safety, security, and clear guidance that is otherwise available to you. The moment you realign with love and stop relying on your own strength, clear direction will be presented. The presence of love will always cast out fear.
Success is an inside job. Whenever you notice yourself discount from the presence of love, simply say this prayer to come back to peace, "I witness that I'm out of alignment with my power. I choose to see peace instead of this." This prayer will reconnect you to your desire to be in union with your creative power. Remember that your intentions create your reality.
You are the dreamer of your dream.
This book is written by Sue Johnson who came up with Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). I found her ideas to be groundbreaking in its fresh perspective in viewing relationships and how our need to feel securely attached to our romantic partner is reasonable and acceptable. Her concept does not judge one's neediness as "codependent" but break downs how we need our partner to be available to us when it counts and how to communicate our need to our partner.
We all sometimes miss our loved ones’ calls for closeness. We all find ourselves distracted. We all get stuck in our own fear or anger and fail to catch loved ones as they fall. There is no perfect soul mate, no flawless lover. We are all stumbling around, treading on each other’s toes as we are learning to love.
If you do not see how you have hurt me, how can I depend on you or feel safe with you?
Near the end of Season 2, Alyssa says of Bonnie, “The problem with a person having a lack of love is that they don't know what it looks like. So it's easy for them to get tricked, to see things that aren’t there. But I guess we all lie to ourselves all the time.”
My favourite poem by Mother Teresa.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Just like me, you are seeking some happiness for your life.
Just like me, you are trying to avoid suffering in your life.
Just like me, you have known sadness, loneliness, and despair.
Just like me, you are seeking to fill your needs.
Just like me, you are learning about life.
I came across this poem by Oriah while I was travelling in Mongolia in April 2019 and parts of it really resonated with me. Here are the parts that I like.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself and not betray your own soul.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Excerpts from “The Invitation” by Oriah
I read this book when I was in Nagoya in 2013. This was probably the first book that sparked my interest in psychology. I was so intrigued by Shirzad Chamine's proposition that we perform better when we are not under stress. At the time I still thought that I needed an inner voice to criticise myself in order to motivate myself to study harder, work more, etc. when in fact, I would succeed if I was chill and had clarity of mind. Most successful, high achieving people are privately tortured by their own Judges.
The Judge's most damaging lie is that we are not worthy of love or respect by just being who we are. Instead, it forces us to constantly perform for them; this forms the construct of "conditional love". Only the Sage lets you achieve success without sacrificing happiness and peace of mind. Only the Sage knows that in his essence he is worthy of love, always. He is to never worry that he might lose it, regardless of his successes or failures and the ups and downs of life. The Sage perspective accepts every outcome and circumstances as a gift and opportunity. There is no such thing as a bad circumstance or outcome. Every outcome simply points to the first step towards the next positive outcome. The Sage moves you one positive step at a time, regardless of what life throws at you.
Ask yourself, what do we need to do so that within three years we can say this current crisis was the best thing that could have happened?
While the judge might push you into action through threats, fear, shame, or guilt, the Sage pulls you into action through anticipation of the joy of exploration and discovery; through the compelling and deeply seated human urge to find meaning in life and to matter; through the joy of creativity and possibility; through the longing of the human heart to connect, care, and be cared for; through appreciation of the mystery of life; and through a desire for clearheaded action toward desired outcomes. If you are feeling upset, disappointed, anxious, or resentful, you are judging. Indeed, that is how the Judge causes much of your distress in any situation. Your distress is not caused by what happened; it's caused by your Judge's reaction to it.
Shirzad Chamine proposes that there are five powers to the Sage:
1. To explore with great curiosity
2. To empathise with yourself and others and bring compassion and understanding to any situation
3. To innovate and create new perspectives and outside the box solutions
4. To navigate and choose a path that best aligns with your deeper underlying values and mission
5. To activate and take decisive action without the distress, interference or distractions of the Saboteurs
I listened to the audible version of this book by Karyl McBride in early 2014. She has the most soothing and nurturing voice. I was so captivated by the tenderness in the way she speaks and really resonated with the symptoms she described for a daughter of a narcissistic mother.
The most important step for recovering from childhood neglect that most people often skip is to process your feelings. For the longest time, I couldn't understand what "processing your feelings" mean. What are the actual steps or actions you need to take in order to process your feelings? Karyl McBride explained that it is about acceptance and grief and feeling your feelings, i.e. don't distract yourself from feeling bad. She also recommends EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) to help with the processing. I have been listening to EMDR music which provides bilateral stimulation of the brain from time to time and it does help desensitise the emotions so it feels less overwhelming to revisit old trauma.
Processing feelings is very different from just talking about them. To process means to talk about the trauma, and simultaneously feel the pain in a cacophonous, blasting, rock concert. You can tell something in a story without feeling it, but that is not processing. This is the only way to release trauma from your body.
The grief process begins with another decision: to let your feelings be there. Sit with those feelings. Sit with the pain. Manage the anxiety and depression that come with it so you can work through it. Don't try to talk yourself out of it. Others around you may try to do this. No one wants to see you hurt, and your loved ones may not understand how important this is, so don't listen to them. Let yourself feel!
You may begin to try to rationalise away the pain. "I shouldn't feel this way," or "I didn't have it that bad." This won't help. Whatever is there you need to release. Let it be. Sometimes in order to do this you have to be quiet and take time to be alone.
I finished reading this book in May 2019 but have not done all the exercises proposed by the book. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans are the famous professors at the Stanford d.school that came up with this groundbreaking idea that we can apply design thinking principles to our life design. The first chapter about starting where you are is quite inspiring. The authors divide our life into four dimensions: Work, Play, Love and Health. In these four areas, you can decide if you are where you want to be. If not, that's what you want to pay attention to.
The authors also break down dysfunctional beliefs to be reframed. One that resonated with me the most is the belief that if you are successful, you will be happy. It's not true. No matter how much you accomplish, it doesn't mean anything if you don't actually care about the accomplishment. Th reframe they suggest is that true happiness comes from designing a life that works for you. Another one that resonated is the belief that happiness is having it all. The reframe they suggest is that happiness is letting go of what you don't need.
I also quite like the idea of logging your failures and identifying growth insights. The premise is that life is not a finite game with winners and losers - it is a process and there are no winners and losers. The goal is to become a more you version of you. Become more you over time.
I read this world famous book maybe around 2012. Gary Chapman proposes that there are five main categories of how people show love to each other:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
Due to the fact that people show love in different ways, we may not always feel loved by the other person who has a primary love language different to you. The names of the love languages are quite self explanatory but the book gives examples and scenarios of how these love languages manifest itself. It's quite useful to know the primary love language of your friends and romantic partner so that you can adjust your behaviour to fit their needs.
I also quite like Gary Chapman's idea of a love tank. When you feel like you can't love this person you used to love because of what he or she did or say, Gary Chapman proposes a six month experiment. He explains that when our love tank is low, we have no love feelings but only experience emptiness and pain. Since love is such a deep emotional need, the lack of it is perhaps our deepest emotional pain. If we could learn to speak the other person's primary love language, that emotional need could be met and positive feelings could grow again. For six months, speak your significant other's primary love language consistently, somewhere on the line, that person's emotional need for love would begin to be met and as their love tank gets filled, they will reciprocate their love to you. That hypothesis is built upon the idea that the emotional need for love is our deepest emotional need and when that need is being met, we tend to respond positively to the person who is meeting it.
For the longest time, I didn't understand what being judgmental means. Friends have proposed that it is making judgments that hurt the other person's feelings. That could be the case but it's pretty to hard to know what statement would hurt someone''s feelings. We often say things that unintentionally hurt people. Fortunately, I came across nonviolent communication and Marshall Rosenberg's poem perfectly captures the meaning of "judgmental".
I can handle your telling me
What I did or didn’t do.
And I can handle your interpretations
But please don’t mix the two.
If you want to confuse any issue,
I can tell you how to do it:
Mix together what I do
With how you react to it.
Tell me you’re disappointed
With the unfinished chores you see,
But calling me “irresponsible”
Is no way to motivate me.
And tell me that you’re feeling hurt
When I say “no” to your advances,
But calling me a frigid man
Won’t increase your future chances.
Yes, I can handle your telling me
What I did or didn’t do,
And I can handle your interpretations,
But please don’t mix the two.
I read Louise Hay's book quite awhile back. When I read the book, she was still alive. I was very inspired by her idea that all disease comes from stress. If you caught a cold, it's not because you got exposed to germs or a virus - we get exposed to germs and viruses everyday - the real reason is because we were stressed and our immune system wasn't strong enough to defend our bodies against those intruding disease.
She provides a list of ailments and what their probable cause is and what our new thought pattern should be. For example, the probable cause of anxiety is not trusting the flow and the process of life. The new thought pattern should be "I love and approve of myself and I trust the process of life. I am safe." The probable cause of blackheads is small bursts of anger and the new thought pattern should be "I calm my thoughts and I am serene." Or if you have breathing problems, it is probably due to fear or refusal to take in life or not feeling the right to take up space or even exist. The new thought pattern should be "It is my birthright to live fully and freely. I am worth loving. I now choose to live life fully,"
She is the queen of affirmations and recommends everyone to write, say, sing affirmations everyday. From the moment you wake up, repeat affirmations over and over.
I am wonderful and I love you. This is one of the best days of my life. Everything is working out for mi highest good. Whatever I need to know is revealed to me. Whatever I need comes to me. All my relationships are harmonious. I am deeply fulfilled by all that I do.
She also advocates feeding the body with good nutrition as part of self love, which probably inspired me to study nutrition. Go on a diet of negative thoughts, and your weight will take care of itself.
I listened to the audible version of this book around December 2017. This book was recommended to me by my beauty therapist who is really into hypnotherapy. Joe Vitale starts the book introducing the famous story of a therapist who cured an entire ward of mentally disturbed patients by healing himself while looking at pictures of these patients in his office. It was phenomenal. That man is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len who explained that he took 100% responsibility for the problems in these patients and resolved their problems using Ho'oponopono, a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. There is now an updated format of this method known as Self I-dentity Through Ho'oponopono (SITH). I hope to attend a SITH training one day.
The simplest way to practice Ho'oponopono is to set your intention to heal and repeat the following:
I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.
Alternatively, you can listen to the absolutely beautiful Ho'oponopono song sung by Susan Osborn, Hanayo and Aman. The song repeats those phrases in English and Japanese.
The premise of Ho'oponopono is as follows:
1. The physical universe is an actualisation of my thoughts.
2. If my thoughts are cancerous, they create a cancerous physical reality.
3. If my thoughts are perfect, they create a physical reality filled with love.
4. I am 100% responsible for creating my physical universe the way it is.
5. I am 100% responsible for correcting the cancerous thoughts that create a diseased reality.
6. There is no such thing as out there. Everything exists as thoughts in my mind.
I read this very short book in July 2019. It is a spin off of Marshall Rosenberg's world famous book 'Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life' and specifically focuses on how to handle anger the NVC way. I learned that how we feel is the result of how we interpret the behaviour of others at any given moment.
The first step in handling our anger using NVC is to be conscious that the stimulus, or trigger, of our anger is not the cause of our anger. That is to say that it isn't simply what people do that makes us angry, but it's something within us that responds to what they do that is really that cause of the anger. This requires us to be able to separate the trigger from the cause. The second step is to be conscious that it is our evaluation of people--in the form of judgments that imply wrongness--that causes our anger. The third step involves looking for the need that is the root of our anger. The judgments we make of other people--which cause our anger--are really alienated expressions of unmet needs. The fourth step is to make a clear, present request of what we want from the other person in relationship to our feelings and unmet needs. We need to ask ourselves: "What do we want the other person to do differently than what they are now doing?" and "What do we want the other person's reasons to be for doing what we want them to do?"
Marshall Rosenberg proposes that vengeance is a distorted cry for empathy. Our real need is for those who hurt us to understand how we have suffered. We want them to hear the pain that goes on in our heart when they said certain things. We want them to see what needs of ours do not get met when he said that. We do not want to blame that person. To fully express our anger means putting our entire consciousness on the need that isn't getting met. There is a need that isn't getting met in there. We have to get that need met. We need the energy to motivate us to get that need met.
1. Identify the stimulus for our anger, without confusing it with the evaluation.
2. Identify the internal image or judgment that is making us angry.
3. Transform this judgmental image into the need that it is expressing; in other words, bring our full attention to the need that is behind the judgment.
I read this book around December 2014. Dr. Fred Luskin founded the Stanford Forgiveness Project. His definition of forgiveness is the ability to live life without taking offense, without giving blame when hurt, and by telling stories that reflect peace and understanding; it means you become part of the solution. If you expect things to go wrong sometimes and you are ready with forgiveness, then you become a more powerful person. Just because someone hurt you does not mean you have to suffer indefinitely. We cannot end the cruelty that exists. What we can do is forgive the unkindness that comes our way and put energy into manifesting our positive intention i.e. the big goal that the grievance thwarted.
The most important thing I learned from this book is that whatever bad thing that has happened, I am not the first and will not be the last to suffer from this bad thing. Dr. Fred Luskin reminds us that painful experience is common and to understand that most offenses are committed without the intention of hurting anyone personally. While we did not cause bad things to happen, we are responsible for how we think, behave, and feel since those experiences occurred. It is our life, and our reactions and emotions to manage. Change our grievance story to a forgiveness story, where we become the hero instead of the victim.
Everybody makes mistakes. We all make bad decisions and act from poor information. Being human means you and I will fail at some things and cause other people harm. Needing to be perfect is an unenforceable rule. Wanting never to hurt anyone else is an unenforceable rule. Needing to be successful is always an unenforceable rule.
At a minimum, everyone can begin by offering a sincere apology for bad behaviour.
Forgiveness begins when we realise that we are not alone in whatever we did wrong. Remember, every mistake you make has been done thousands of times by other people. You created no new evil or managed no new failure.
Nine steps to forgiveness:
1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened, and be able to articulate what about the situation is not okay. Then tell a couple of trusted people about your experience.
2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else. No one else even has to know about your decision.
3. Understand your goal. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling with the person who upset you or condoning their action. What you are after is peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the peace and understanding that come from blaming less that which has hurt you, taking the experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.
4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognise that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts, and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes--or ten years--ago.
5. At the moment you feel upset, practice the positive emotion refocusing technique to soothe your body's fight or flight response. Bring your attention fully to your stomach as you slowly draw in and out two deep breaths. As you inhale, allow the air to gently push your belly out. As you exhale, consciously relax your belly so that it feels soft. On the third full and deep inhalation, bring to your mind's eye an image of someone you love or of a beautiful scene in nature that fills you with awe and wonder. Ask the relaxed and peaceful part of you what you can do to resolve your difficulty.
6. Give up expecting things from other people, or life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognise the unenforceable rules you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity and work hard to get them. However, you will suffer if you demand that these things occur when you do not have the power to make them happen.
7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. In other words, find your positive intention. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt, seek out new ways to get what you want.
8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who hurt you power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you.
9. Amend your grievance story to remind yourself of the heroic choice to forgive.
I read this book in December 2018. The premise for Shaunti Feldman's book is that whether we thrive depends far more on how we choose to treat others than on how we ourselves are treated. The path to our happy place starts with one choice: whether or not to be kind. Especially when we really don't want to be. True. engaged kindness takes effort. Research shows that as we show kindness, even when it is undeserved, something changes, not necessarily in the other person, not yet, but in us. When we answer unkindness with grace and harshness with gentleness, those actions don't just preserve our peace of mind; they transform theirs.
The 30-day kindness challenge is designed to build a sustainable desire for and habit in each of three key aspects of kindness: avoiding negativity, finding and praising the positive, and performing kind actions that matter to someone else. What was surprising to me is that we are not as kind as we think we are. One of the ways that we are unkind is when we are suspicious. We think we are justified in being suspicious but what we are doing is believing in the worst of people's intentions rather than looking for a more generous (and usually more accurate) explanation. Suspicion sneaks its way inside our hearts and comes out of our mouths as negativity. Build a bridge even when you would rather battle.
In summary, the challenge requires you to pick someone with whom you want a better relationship with and do the following in the next thirty days:
1. Say nothing negative about your person, either to them or about them to someone else.
2. Every day, find one positive thing that you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.
3. Every day, do a small act of kindness or generosity for your person.
This work of fiction was written by Daniel Keyes in the format of separate progress reports as chapters. This novella was recommended to me by a friend who claims that this is his favourite book of all time. I read this book in early 2016. It is about this mentally retarded man, Charlie Gordon, who becomes a subject of an experiment to become more intelligent. At his low IQ, he was happy working as an errands boy at a bakery and was not aware when others were making fun of him. As he grows in intelligence and awareness, his speech becomes more comprehensible but emotionally he also becomes more weary and suspicious of his "friends" at work who were really teasing him and became isolated as his relationships with others deteriorate. He lost his innocence and became a genius but he was still emotionally immature.
The story begs the question, is ignorance bliss? We often praise people for their intelligence as if it is a blessing to be intelligent but is intelligence really such a good thing? Sadly, the experiment had a huge flaw and Charlie's intelligence gradually reverted to its original state. As his speech gradually deteriorates into a mumbling mess, those around Charlie pities him for what he has to go through. In the end tragically he lost everything, his friends, his family and his intelligence.
Thich Nhat Hanh's writings were recommended to me by a fellow participant of the Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive program I attended in Kenya. I read this book in mid-2018. It's a very short book with simple statements of what love is. He proposes that understanding is the nature of love.
Understanding someone's suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love's other name. If you don't understand, you can't love.
To understand, we need to listen. That person may be our partner, our friend, our sibling, or our child. You can ask, "Dear one, do you think that I understand you enough? Please tell me your difficulties, your suffering, and your deepest wishes."
Compassion means to "suffer with" another person, to share their suffering. When you love someone, you should have the capacity to bring relief and help him suffer less.
When you suffer, you may want to go to your room, lock the door, and cry. The person who hurt you is the last person you want to see. Even if he tries to approach you, you may still be very angry. But to get relief, you have to go to the person you love, the one who just hurt you very deeply, and ask for help. Become yourself one hundred percent. Open your mouth and say with all your heart and with all your concentration that you suffer and you need help.
Here are three sentences that may help.
First: "My dear, I am suffering. I am angry, and I want you to know it."
The second is: "I am doing my best." This means you are practising mindful breathing and walking, and you are refraining from doing or saying anything out of anger.
The third is: "Please help me."
I read this book around March 2019 after I finished reading Katherine Woodward Thomas's other book "Calling in The One". She proposes that a breakup is nothing short of a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a complete spiritual awakening and believes that we can use our shocking loss to break our heart open, expanding and enlarging our capacity to authentically love ourselves and others in the process. She encourages us to plant seeds of forgiveness, goodwill and generosity, so that in time our actions will grow to be a cornucopia of riches for ourselves and for those we love. I like the idea of post-traumatic growth and becoming well-adjusted, healthy, resilient, good-hearted adults because a clean conscience is worth more than money can ever buy. Give peace a chance.
She quoted Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh's characterisation of anger as garbage, "I recognise that there is garbage in me and I am going to transform this garbage into nourishing compost that can make love appear."
The rule of thumb: you want to be more interested in developing yourself than you are in defending yourself, more interested in being rigorously honest than being right.
You must be more devoted to creating safety, cohesion, and well-being for all involved than in being right or exacting revenge. You have to consciously create the possibility of an affirmative future while coming to terms with the painful loss of the future you'd envisioned. It's a little like building a plane while flying it, and it's not for the faint of heart.
You want to fully own your power, regardless of who someone else is choosing to be, refusing to give anyone the authority to determine how you are going to behave. Remember, kindness is contagious. It's hard for someone to stay mean and petty when you're behaving in ways that are consistently thoughtful, respectful and generous.
This book was recommended by my friend when I was visiting Davos. I read this book in February 2019. Katherine Woodward Thomas is a very compassionate and loving woman and is the founder of the 'Conscious Uncoupling' concept. I attended a webinar she hosted and she has the loveliest and most gentle voice. I was very inspired by the first chapter where she recommends that we grow our capacity to love and be loved.
You must be willing to grow yourself beyond the person that you are today. Because the person you are now is the person who has created the experiences that you have already had. As they say in the twelve-step programs, "Our best thinking got us here." As such, your task is to grow yourself healthier and stronger in order to create a space for a remarkable love to enter your life. As long as we are acting out the disappointments of our past, we will most likely remain frustrated and unfulfilled in our attempts to actualise love in our lives. However, once we have done the work to heal ourselves, it then becomes possible for us to bring the best of who we are to others.
Katherine Woodward Thomas explains that when we are taking actions that are in often with our values, there is often a tremendous drain on our sense of wholeness and wellbeing. If we can see our lives as a series of challenges that provide us with opportunities for growth, with the goal of advancing ourselves in wisdom and compassion, then it is easier to accept our past failures and disappointments. We want to be generous, loving and accepting of others.
We tend to like those who are generous with us, allowing us to make mistakes and be imperfect without holding it against us. When people are generous, we feel like we can breathe around them. We feel like we can be more authentically who we are. Generosity is a spacious phenomenon.
She quoted Leo Buscaglia's "Love", "If you want to learn to love, then you must start the process of finding out what it is, what qualities make up a loving person and how these are developed. Each person has the potential for love. But potential is never realised without work."
I listened to the audible version of this book in December 2017 in an attempt to understand what self love means. Kristin Neff proposes that it is more helpful to have self compassion than to have self esteem. With the practice of self compassion, we are able to face unavoidable suffering. Suffering is a natural and shared human condition and is not necessarily just sadness but also humiliation, anger, guilt, stress and any other bad feeling. When we feel that bad feeling in our stomach, Kristin Neff recommends that we say to ourselves:
This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I be kind to myself.
The trick to this proclamation of kindness to ourselves is that we must say it just for the purpose of giving ourselves compassion and not to get rid of any bodily discomfort. Kristen Neff also asks, "How would we treat a friend who's going through the same thing we are going through?" For whatever reason, we tend to be kinder to our friends than we are to ourselves. Acknowledge that being human is to be imperfect. Everyone overreacts sometimes, it is only human.
One myth we often tell ourselves is that we must be self-judgmental otherwise we wouldn't be motivated to improve. The truth is it is much healthier to be motivated by good intentions. Love is more powerful than fear. Notice the emotional pain from our inner critic and give ourselves compassion. Put our hands on our heart and tell ourselves, "hey I know this is hard right now, and it’s only natural you’re feeling so stressed. I’m here for you." Let's change our inner dialogue to a more encouraging and supportive voice. Let's nurture ourselves and keep our hearts open.
I read this book in August 2019. I was fascinated by Mark Manson's interpretation of the 'Blue Dot effect'. If you were asked how happy you are on a scale from 1 to 10, what would you say? It seems no matter how many happy episodes we have, over time we are unable to be happier than our baseline happiness. We are on average a 7. We are happy 70% on average. Whether we have access to clean water or not, we collectively find reasons why we are not a 10 happy. There was an experiment in a lab where they put a computer screen in front of each subject that showed a colored dot, one at a time. When a blue dot shows up, the subject has to press the blue dot button. When a green, purple, red, orange, yellow or white dot shows up, the subject has to press the not a blue dot button. At the beginning, most of the dots were blue, then gradually there were less and less blue dots. Interestingly, as there were less blue dots, subjects started pressing the blue dot button when the purple dot shows up. It was as if the subjects believed there should be more blue dots and have convinced themselves that purple dots are blue dots.
Applied to real life, over time no matter how much less pain or inconvenience we suffer compared to people from a century ago or compared to people living in developing economies, we will always find something to complain about. We will justify why we are a 7 happy. We become more sensitive to pain. Mark Manson argues that technology innovation performs only two functions; it either enhances our pain or distracts us from pain. When we develop technologies that enhance our pain, i.e. replacing the pain of commuting on scheduled trains with ubers or the pain of a chronic disease with an immunisation jab, that is beneficial to society. However, when we develop technologies that distracts us from pain, i.e. computer games or social media that distracts us from feeling our feelings, we become a lot more sensitive to pain. We become unable to tolerate the pain having a conversation with someone who does not agree with us. We become unable to tolerate difficult conversations. Mark Manson argues that we do not have a crisis of capitalism vs socialism but a crisis of immaturity.
I read this book in August 2019. It is about Tara Westover's very unique upbringing without school and away from civilisation. She helped her dad pick up metal scraps for a living. Her brother was emotionally violent and physically abusive towards her. Her dad is extremely religious and abusive towards his children. It was so heartbreaking to read about her episodes at home. From this book I understand that the desire for your parents' love and approval is all consuming and beyond logic. As emotionally and physically abusive her parents and some of her siblings were, Tara still wanted to run back to her family and apologise for things she never lied about. Our attachment needs are so overwhelming that we are sometimes unable to protect ourselves and strive to be loved by those who hurt us.