How to experience relief through self-love and self-connection.

Nov 17, 2022

Yesterday I had a client session where the relevance and need for self-acceptance and self-compassion surfaced as an aspect of the healing process. It reminded me of a time I had to deal with that lesson myself.

Years ago, I coordinated a symposium in my community, Compassion in Action, to fill a need to connect people wanting to make a difference with organizations that need their help. As a healer and motivational speaker, I was up on stage giving my inspirational bit when I saw a friend in the front row close his eyes and nod off. I followed my layers of reaction. “Is my topic irrelevant? Am I boring?” Instantaneously I lost my stage presence, and I heard myself stumbling over my words. I quickly wrapped up my talk and returned to my seat.

As I sat down, I felt the heat rising in my cheeks. I couldn’t even look at my husband sitting next to me. My stomach knotted with disappointment for not giving the flawless speech I’d imagined. Within this sense of shame, I was able to recognize that I was judging myself. I knew I could choose new wiring or a different attitude. I used the opportunity for Q&A to get back on stage. This time, I placed my hand on my heart and spoke my truth, lovingly acknowledging my imperfect closing as a way to role-model self-compassion in action - just what the conference was about!

My choice at that moment was self-connection. Self-connection is understanding the various layers of thoughts and emotions, physical sensations, and reactions, and having compassion for our imperfections. Self-connection is not the same as being self-absorbed. When self-absorbed, we feed our vanity, ego, or personality. Self-connection is being aware that we are imperfect and choosing not to identify with the idealized self but rather connect with the real or authentic self, which is almost always more messy.

Self-connection allows us to see our truths at the core of our being, taking ownership of our strengths and acknowledging our weaknesses. In doing so, we do not have to fall prey to the criticism of others. Through the practice of self-connection, we learn how we navigate the world and who we are with clarity and compassion.

Steps and stages of developing healthy and positive self-connection

Stage 1: Choose to shift to self-connection

When you experience the pain of judgment or self-doubt:

  • Pause
  • Notice your breath
  • Become aware of your physical body, your body in your environment
  • Place your hand on your heart as a physical act of pausing and connecting

Stage 2: Take it a bit deeper, allowing for what is, notice without judging

You don’t have to like reality, but know that when you accept reality for what it is, you can more easily navigate it. You can recognize resistance and soften to it. 

  • Take a cleansing breath.
  • Where does your current tension or contraction reside in your body?
  • Notice how it is presenting: a tightness, feeling anxious, wired, pounding
  • Allow yourself to feel the contraction and what you don’t like about it
  • Instead of pushing negative feelings aside, or repressing them, allow them to be without assigning labels of “good” and “bad.” 
  • Simply notice: notice what is and notice the reaction to what is

Stage 3: Reframe

Allow for a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset by recognizing that who you are will keep evolving, and you don’t have to over-identify with either your wounded self or your idealized self.

  • Neutralize the inner critic by noticing without over-identifying
  • Don’t feed, reinforce or collude with your old stories
  • Shift through reframing- allow your inner critic to point you to hopes and desires on what you do want to manifest versus focusing on what didn’t work
  • Know that life is a process
  • Give yourself permission to be imperfect and lovable, and affirm it with self-acceptance.

Self-connection helps us to accept what is, trust the flow, feel liberated from our inner critic and external criticism, and move into compassion. Release your pursuit of perfectionism and allow yourself to be fully alive, complex, and full of moving emotions.

The friend who fell asleep called early the next morning to tell me how much he got out of my role-modeling compassion, and it was just what he was needing on his journey! 

When we trust ourselves, have compassion for our shortcomings, and accept our imperfections, we are free to be of service to others.