Sit comfortably and take a few slow, deep breaths. Settle your awareness in your heart. Now ask yourself this difficult question:
What is wrong with me?
Although we spend much of our lives disguising and suppressing the answers to this question, this is your opportunity to access it. You carry negative self-judgments because you’ve accepted the opinions of others as legitimate. This is the time to challenge their validity. To help begin the process, look at the following list of traits that many clients have shared with me over the years, and see which ones provoke an emotional response in you.
Mental and Personality Characteristics
Toxic emotions and beliefs have both mental and physical components. To fully identify the emotional ama you are carrying, you need to recruit the assistance of both your mind and body. As you consider various restricting beliefs and qualities you may have internalized, pay attention to the sensations in your body. The feelings that your body generates are
like flares signaling that there is a buried memory or belief that wants to be discovered. Feeling your body while listening to your mind will ensure that you access the toxic residues of past experience so you can proceed on the path to healing your heart and healing your body.
Take out your journal and list the top tier of negative traits you have internalized. It should be easy for you to identify at least seven negative qualities you’ve accepted as yours. With time and attention, it will not be difficult for you to identify dozens. The best mind-set for approaching this process is understanding that for every negative quality we’ve accepted as true, a positive possibility hides just under the surface. Similarly, for every positive trait we accept as true, a negative trait is concealed in the shadows. Embracing our light and dark sides does not make us weak; it brings wholeness to our being. Having identified the self-negating beliefs you have internalized, rank them, beginning with the most disturbing quality that has caused pain for you. Your list might look something like this:
1) I am a slob.
2) I am useless.
3) I am ugly.
4) I am a parasite.
5) I am an idiot.
6) I am self-centered.
7) I am unlovable.
Now consider the stories these traits reflect. Acknowledging the tales you’ve woven around these qualities begins to free you from the unconscious hold they have on you. Only then can you be free to experience happiness, vitality, love, meaning, and peace in your life. Begin with the first trait on your list and ask yourself the following questions to help you recognize the roots and branches of the characteristic you have internalized. Write several paragraphs for each answer, recalling what you remember about this wounding.
1) When did I first hear this term applied to me? Who labeled me with this trait and what do I know about my tormentor?
2) What was happening in my life when this label was applied to me?
3) How has this label affected my sense of self and my relationships?
4) How has this trait affected my psychological and physical health?
5) Do I deserve to continue carrying the burden of this toxic trait in my heart? Do I deserve to be happy?
6) Has this belief, however painful, served me in any way?
7) How will recovering the power this trait has held affect my psychological and physical well-being?
David Simon, M.D. is the Co- Founder, CEO and Medical Director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Dr. Simon is dedicated to catalyzing the evolution of the prevailing health care system into a healing system that encompasses the emotional, spiritual as well as physical health of the individual. His new book Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions comes out on June 25, 2009.
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