5) Express your feelings.
Journaling about your feelings has been shown to alleviate depression and increases your self-knowledge. If you’re anxious, practice yoga or martial arts, meditation, or simple breathing exercises. Slowing your breath slows your brain and calms your nervous system. Exhale 10 times making a hissing (“sss”) sound with your tongue behind your teeth. When you’re angry, do something active to release your emotions.
6) Giving yourself comfort.
Write a supportive letter to yourself, expressing what an ideal parent would say. Have a warm drink. Studies show this actually elevates your mood. Swaddle your body in a blanket or sheet like a baby. This is soothing and comforting to your body.
7) Find pleasure.
Find pleasure, e.g., read or watch comedy, look at beauty, walk in nature, sing or dance, create something, or stroke your skin. Pleasure releases chemicals in the brain that counterbalance pain, stress, and negative emotions. Discover what pleasures you. (To read more about the neuroscience of pleasure, read my article, “The Healing Power of Eros”.)
Adults also need to play. This means doing something purposeless that fully engages you and is enjoyable for its own sake. The more active the better, i.e., play with your dog vs. walking him, sing or collect seashells vs. watching television. The play brings you into the pleasure of the moment. Doing something creative is a great way to play, but be cautious not to judge yourself. Remember the goal is enjoyment–not the finished product.
9) Coach yourself.
Practice complimenting and encouraging yourself – especially when you don’t think you’re doing enough. Notice self-judgment for what it is, and be a positive coach. Remind yourself of what you have done and allow yourself time to rest and rejuvenate.
10) Forgive yourself.
Good parents don’t punish children for mistakes or constantly remind them, and they don’t punish willful wrongs repeatedly. Instead, learn from mistakes and make amends when necessary.
11) Keep commitments.
Honor commitments to yourself as you would anyone else. When you don’t, you’re in effect abandoning yourself. How would you feel if your parent repeatedly broke promises to you? Love yourself by demonstrating that you’re important enough to keep commitments to yourself.
12) Listen to my Self-Love Meditation regularly.
It will give you words of kindness and acceptance to say to yourself.
A Word of Caution
Beware of self-judgment. Remember that feelings aren’t rational. Whatever you feel is okay, and it’s okay if you don’t know why you feel the way you do. What is important is the acceptance of your feelings and the positive actions you take to nurture yourself. Many people think, “I shouldn’t be angry (sad, afraid, depressed, etc.). This may reflect the judgment they received as a child. Often it’s this unconscious self-judgment that is the cause of irritability and depression. Learn how to combat self-criticism in my ebook, 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, available on my website and in online bookstores.
©Darlene Lancer 2013
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Written by Darlene Lancer JD, MFT
Originally appeared on WhatIsCodependency.com
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