Hardship and challenge are quintessential parts of the human experience, yet suffering is more optional. The turbulent times in our lives are an invitation to lift our consciousness, make choices about our perceptions and be the alchemist of our life. Alchemy simply put, is the intention to transmute something of perceived lesser quality to a more noble and great quality – like turning stone to gold. We are called to investigate where we move into judgement, and categorical thinking of right or wrong, and bring responsibility for how we choose to perceive life’s events. This kind of black and white thinking applied to the world, to people and ourselves contributes to feelings of anger, anxiety, blame, fear and self-loathing. The opportunity found in life’s challenges, is to acknowledge the presence of these emotions, whilst also turning our hearts to the potential blessings and gold, knowing that they will surely come.
The alchemical path has a few methods to support you in creating a golden and shimmering life, you can begin with;
‘Feel the feeling, don’t tell the story’
Emotions and feelings come and go like the weather, bringing with them an ever changing blend of sunshine and storms. In the company of uncomfortable and painful emotion, it is important to be aware of what thoughts, stories, judgements and assumptions we attribute to the feelings and emotions we are experiencing. If we believe the unhealthy or unhelpful thought processes, we can prolong our suffering by perceiving events, the future or even people as bad and unwanted. We move into the head and away from the heart, turning our backs on possibility. Practice holding your thoughts and beliefs lightly, like you might hold a feather in your hand. After all, our thoughts are based on perceptions, and the goggles we wear in life are based on our belief systems, which have been inherited, accumulated and sometimes forced onto us through past experience. These thoughts then, aren’t necessarily the truth of the event occurring in the present moment. Falling into the trap of believing that unhelpful thoughts are true or wise, is like creating a dead end in your experience. Use your breath as a support in navigating through challenging emotion, by expanding the breath deep into the lungs and abdomen, exhaling longer to release accumulated tension. The breath is your sacred anchor to the present moment, keeping you out of your mind and connected to infinite doors of possibility.
Look for the blessings around the corner
This can be a real feat when the heart and/or ego are suffering after a personal loss or hurt. There can be a temptation to hold onto the hurt, as a way of honouring our suffering and not approving of the ‘wrong doing’ of others. But by being curious and looking for the blessings, you are learning to hold space for both the pain and the possibilities in your awareness. This does not imply the hardship did not invite suffering into your life, it simply means you are also prepared to look for the gold in your life. There is a rolling movement in life. What once appeared to be a disaster, suddenly unfurls itself to carry blessing and gold. An eternal blossoming and expansion, moving from one shade of colour to the next, sometimes the darkest indigo, to lightest white. If in the wake of hardship, we are willing to unveil the gifts, opportunities and personal developments that may arise, the harder events in our lives can become more palpable, perhaps even sweet. Invite the gold into your life, by asking yourself, I wonder what miracle will come from this storm?
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
~ Frida Kahlo
Have acceptance and compassion as your life travel guides
The personal growth journey has no final destination, it is an ever deepening, ever expanding path. This can bring its own set of frustrations, and means that at some stage we will realise that we never get to be that ‘perfect’ ideal version of ourselves that we are so diligently striving towards. Life also won’t go according to plan, and neither will people behave the way we always hope for. Support yourself along this journey by treating yourself and others with compassion and acceptance. Life, if we are lucky, can give us a long road, so choose thoughts that are encouraging, loving and accepting, as you trundle along the path. Know that there is a whole planet of people, trundling alongside you with their own backpacks full of self-doubt and uncertainty.
It is the very contrast between dark and light that brings beauty into the world. Think of the first day you wake up feeling fresh after battling the flu, or the delight of the first sun filled sky after a winter of grey. There is a mighty magnificence, gifted only through the contrast of dark and light, challenge and ease. Each is needed, each is sacred. Without both we would miss out on the gold. So how could one be better than the other? Rather it is the dance of challenge and ease in our lives that can create the bliss and blessings we long for.
Are you sifting through the dust, letting it fall away to reveal the gold. Or have you got dust in your eyes?
Contact Natalia to explore how you can support yourself in managing life’s challenges.
Many people seek out therapy for various challenges in life. The common thread that presents itself more often than not, is an underlying quest for self-acceptance. Learning how to come to terms with our imperfections, conflicting desires, and challenging emotions, is the journey of self-acceptance.
Acceptance as a general concept is often confused with the condoning and approving of negative or unfavourable experiences, emotions and behaviours. It is also misunderstood as being passive, and giving up. This is far from the truth of what acceptance is.
Jon Kabat Zinn, one of the founders of Mindfulness training explains it here;
“Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.”
When we struggle with self-acceptance, we create resistance and tension with the present moment. The voice of the inner critic can dominate our inner-world accentuating our limiting thoughts, behaviours and challenging emotions. It can deeply impact the quality of our lives, and damage self-esteem. The first step toward change is awareness, the second step is acceptance.
Self-acceptance is having an awareness of your perceived imperfections and shortcomings, whilst simultaneously knowing you are worthy, and deserving of compassion and kindness exactly as you are. When we meet our experience with acceptance, we discover the loving and wise wholeness of our true nature.
Here are a few suggestions to support the development of self-acceptance:
1. Consider the struggles and challenges that you face, as part of a shared human experience. All human beings are suffering with uncertainty, the meaning of life, wanting to feel loved and ‘good enough’, and parts of their personality or person that they wish were different. It can be very comforting to be reminded that you are not the only one.
2. Take small steps to practice being your ‘true’ self. Notice where you are making choices and living your life from a place of ‘should’. By listening to, and acting on your own internal preferences, needs and wants you strengthen your sense of self and your boundary. Although scary to start, it feels good to be who we are. Being authentic in our lives, creates opportunities to receive positive reinforcement for being ourselves, and we attract those that appreciate those qualities, which in turn helps develop self-acceptance.
3. Cease the quest for perfection, whilst continuing with your effort. If you are relying on being perfect in some way as proof of your worth, you will never get there. In which case, you will never feel worthy.
4. Savour your accomplishments and achievements – often we are too quick to jump to the next thing, which means we are never truly impacted by our efforts, never deeply acknowledge our good work, and we miss out on the positive affirmation.
5. Avoid comparison. It is impossible to embody and have all of that which we admire or appreciate in others, and it diminishes the value of the treasured qualities you have as a person. Variety is essential, and your unique self has a necessary and valued place in the tapestry of humanity.
6. Practice gratitude for the self. At the end of the day, contemplate your efforts, achievements and joyful moments. The mind, for evolutionary purposes is geared to paying attention to the negative aspects and events of our lives, whist quickly letting go of the positive. If you feel you don’t have many positive qualities, successes or experiences, it is likely to be the bias of the mind, and is an opportunity for you to train your attention towards the blessings.
If you are interested in growing your self acceptance, book in for an appointment with Natalia.