We’ve all heard the stories – the young girl who was hit by a parent and vows it will never happen again. She moves forward, creates a life of success and then, one day, wakes up to find herself in an abusive relationship, wondering how in the heck she got there. She obviously didn’t want this for her life. Maybe it’s alcohol that is the undercurrent story. Maybe it’s a story of watching your mother battle her weight and dismiss herself, and now you are waking up to the same story.
Some call this your subconscious mind or the ego, and some call it the shadow. Then there is Carl Jung, who called it our unconscious mind. In order to really connect to this dark shadow, subconscious part of yourself, you must learn to tap into the language.
I woke up one day and realized that I had spent years of my life healing my tough childhood, self worth issues and body issues, only to recognize that I was repeating similar patterns that I had worked so hard to heal.
For the most part, our human brain is underdeveloped, and we aren’t using it to its fullest capacity. The largest part of our brain belongs to the “wild conscience”, according to Jung. Many now refer to it as the anti-conscious. In my experience, it is the part of the brain that is working against you, trying to destroy your path to love and spiritual enlightenment with what I call the “crazy mind”.
One of the first steps to receive the gifts from the crazy mind is to review your childhood and write down the stories and beliefs you formed at that time. Look for patterns and how you’ve repeated behaviors. I realized that I often looked to others for my self worth. I recognized and learned about my codependent behaviors, and as I began learning and recovering, I began dreaming wild dreams. I wrote them down, explored what they meant for me, and applied that growth into my everyday life.
It’s important to practice releasing all the self-criticism in this process, and learn from it. I find that when you have curiosity about a criticism, you can grow, in a healthy way, from it. If bitterness or negative feelings come up, and stick to you like superglue, then there is a part of you that recognizes there is some level of truth in those critiques. Dreams or meditations are tools to understand these truths. They show us just how egocentric and unfeeling we can be at times. When you learn from them you can change your habits in your waking life.
To love yourself, in your own skin and heart, requires thick skin and a vulnerable heart. This is something you can develop, and is accessible to all. I’ve learned that the best love lessons come when I can linger within the sweet spot of vulnerability. When you want to keep the wall up around you to numb the pain, or you feel unsafe and pull away, it is time to lay your heart on the line, to love and be loved. It’s time to really look at yourself, your patterns, your baggage, and your strengths.
What can you find that you love about yourself? Do you have a list handy? If not, get started and make a minimum of 10 love strengths. When you are in that deep, dark and struggling place, pull out your list (I carry mine in my cell phone) and use these strengths to climb out of the hole that the crazy mind has dropped you into.
We create all the “stuff” going on around us, and in our lives. We begin to understand that we learn from both the positive and negative experiences. You’ll notice the gratitude and compassion for yourself begin to emerge. This process is not easy, but the result is what we all want and strive for… Love.
If you find yourself vacillating with decision-making, feel stuck in life, career, your body, or a relationship, and you don’t know the way out, the only answer is to quiet your mind. Remember, the last thing your shadow-self wants is quiet, so it will try to keep you busy and distracted, in an attempt to continue to numb the pain.
The best way to begin is simply to live. Daily life is your best teacher. Your relationships are the mirrors that will reflect back exactly what you need to do to support yourself and your growth. You may include more bubble baths, extra sleep or the meditation practice that you know will be key to quiet your mind and let your intuition come through.
The practice of creating your 10 love list strengths and taking a good look at your patterns since childhood can transform the way you love yourself. There is a depth of knowledge available to you right now, within your conscious mind, that has the answers to all that you desire. It can be yours when you open up and accept the path of understanding yourself; that will lead to loving yourself.
Renee Heigel, CHHP, AADP, is an life coach, writer, holistic health and nutrition practitioner, mom, entrepreneur, foodist, speaker, cook, world traveler, media maven, and creator of Love Yourself Naked and Local Nourish Flourish.
Renee trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and has over a decade of experience plus certification in coaching work.
She shows women in their mid-20s to mid-50s how to eat more local, whole foods so they can create long-term health and love themselves naked! She offers private health, life and nutrition coaching, webinars and corporate wellness coaching.