If you’re a student of history, you’ve probably observed that although technology has advanced exponentially since the era of the caveman, human nature has stayed pretty much the same. Although we have our computers, iPhones, iPads, Mp3’s, cable TV, etc, humans are still hardwired to react to anxiety-provoking incidents with a myriad of predictable physiological reactions. Perhaps you can relate to being placed on hold by an automated avatar or being lost in a company’s phone system’s answering loop.
Your instantaneous physiological reactions might include rapid heartbeat, tightened muscles, heat rising into your head and neck area, clenched teeth, increased sweat, as well as an increased propensity to scream your dissatisfaction to the non-existent persona on the other end of the line. In short, you’ve just been hijacked by your autonomic nervous system and you’re “stressed.”
We all want that magic carpet ride to serenity, calm, and peace. However, there are more scenarios that can undermine your peace of mind. A few universal stressors are relationship problems, parenting issues, overbooking, work stress, and financial worries.
How do these dilemmas undermine your self-love? Many people, unfortunately, measure their self esteem, and similarly their self-love, by their level of accomplishment. As long as everything is going well, meaning that you’re upwardly mobile, spouse and kids are successful and satisfied, and the money is rolling in, it’s fairly easy to love yourself. After all, you’re a winner, right? Self-love comes easy under these circumstances.
However, life can be cyclical. Adults, who realize that both bad and good times pass, have the advantage here over teens, who often suffer greatly after new adversities and wonder if they will be happy again. When the tide rolls out and adversity strikes in the form of a divorce, illness, or financial hardship, what happens to the feeling of self-love? Often, it’s the first loss as self-esteem plummets and your ability to feel like captain of your ship begins to fade.
This is where the opportunity for developing genuine self-love can take root if you take the challenge seriously. It’s during these times that people are most likely to give in to blame and to blame either an outside source, such as the bad economy, or worse still, themselves. Thoughts such as “I’m a loser,” or “Things will never get better,” get a firm foothold in one’s consciousness. Thoughts such as these have a tendency to become hard to shake and repeat over and over.
What you are actually doing at this point is programming yourself to believe these words as statements of fact. Once this occurs, your words and actions start to change as to reflect your new beliefs. You may find yourself saying,“There are no jobs out there. I might as well quit looking,” or, “Things are never going to get better for me.” Then, as a result, you actually do quit looking. You are no longer optimistic about your future and your supply of self-esteem runs dry.
The good news is that you can turn this self-defeating cycle around. As Louise Hay, in her book, You Can Heal Your Life, attests, “No matter what the problem, the main issue to work on is loving the self.” Instead of dwelling on the problem, “I’ll never pay off this loan,” make a declaration of approval for yourself. “Even though I have these problems right now, I love and approve of myself exactly as I am and and I know a solution will come.”
Whether you actually believe this statement or not, say it anyway. Write it down. Repeat it many times a day. What you’re doing is reprogramming your unconscious and motivating yourself towards positive action. The worst thing you can do during tough times is engage in negative self talk. Don’t tear down the temple!
Becoming stress resilient begins with self-love. Criticism is one of the biggest predictors of divorce, and just as criticism divides a relationship, self-criticism divides you from yourself, destroying a most precious resource: your faith and love in yourself. Therefore, the next time you find the seeds of self doubt creeping into your psychological space, counter with a self-affirming response and put stress in its rightful place: last.
© Copyright 2010 by By Teresa L Trower MA LMHC, therapist in Jacksonville, Florida. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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