Survival of the Kindest - How to Grow into Being Kinder to Yourself

It’s what is happening on the inside that really matters, right? Insta pics can look amazing. Makeup can help us put on a face. But if we aren’t happy with our selves and content with who we are and how we are living, in my experience, what things look like on the outside doesn’t really matter. For years I compared and more than anything doubted my worth, skills, nature, strength, and purpose often. I had really regular thought patterns of insecurity around my body shape, my personality, my lifestyle, my clothes, my way of speaking, my successes, my friendships. My thoughts were frequently focused on who other people were, what they had, what they thought of me, who I was not, and what I didn’t have, yada, yada, yada. Maybe it wasn’t always easy to see on the outside. But it was easy enough for some people. I really didn’t know what to do to just fix myself.

I needed to find my purpose? Go back to school? Get more degrees and smarter? Get a clearer direction of where my life was going? A couple weeks ago I realized that over the last two years my mindset has really changed! And I bet if I got a before and after brain scan from two years ago vs. now, I would see that my brain’s shape has changed. There’s a saying in the neuroscience world: neurons that fire together wire together.

In really simple terms, our brains neurons fire in patterns according to what we think about. The more we think about certain things and in certain ways, the more frequently we will think about those things in those ways. Which is why taking intentional time to just even notice our own thoughts and thought patterns is so powerful — more we practice awareness of where our heads go, the more we have a chance to change where our heads go. Mindfulness is known as the awareness that comes from paying attention to our present moment, non-judgementally. So at its core, mindfulness is compassionate. It’s being courageous and looking with kindness at the vulnerable, honest reality of the present moment. The power of mindfulness isn’t that it magically erases harsh thoughts. It’s that it gives the tools to notice harsh judgements, let them go, and look at the present moment with kindness. And kindness is actually related to survival. When Charles Darwin wrote his research findings about Survival of the Fittest he also wrote at the same time about his research findings of Survival of the Kindest. When societies and people are kind and altruistic, their societies live better, healthier, longer. During the last year and a half I started doing mindfulness exercises. Once I learned the tools needed to even realize what my thoughts were, I then had the tools I need to develop a really life-changing, mind-changing habit: simply 🌿 accept 🌿 myself. The Franciscan Priest Fr. Richard Rohr has said, “Love is learning how to say yes to what is. Not fix what is. Not say no to what is. Not avoid what is.” And I am learning how to say yes to who I am and thus, how to accept, like and even love myself. By learning how to pay attention to my thoughts, I could notice what the heck was (and is) really going on and through that awareness, I could (and still do) let go of harsh judgments. I now have the tools I needed to take control of my thoughts. Of where my head goes. And that’s not to say that now I live in a constantly happy state of mind. But I have so much more balance. I am so much more quick to adjust my thoughts when I need to. I am so much more resilient. A lack of resilience is related to numbing and powerlessness. I felt so numb and so powerless for so many years. I didn’t even realize I was numbing my thoughts emotions. I really didn’t have the tools I needed to balance and regulate my own brain. But the more I practiced mindfulness, the more my compassionate thinking associated brain neurons grew stronger. It’s just like exercising and strengthening any area of our bodies. And I still need to and see the benefit of exercising mindfulness every day and I really encourage EVERYONE to do so. In the spirit of that, I’m going to share a little compassion meditation that I use often. It’s an exercise of focusing a positive, compassionate perspective towards yourself. Not in a proud way, but in a “I am really grateful and glad to be here and be myself” way. When I use this exercise regularly, I notice that I do not strive to be someone other than who I am. Shame just doesn’t stick around. I am pretty comfortable and happy being me. I want to grow and give and love out of a place of enoughness. I worry so much less about who I am not. And I notice so much faster when I am thinking of who I am not. If you take a minute to try these affirmations with yourself and you notice any thoughts popping up, just notice them and gently escort your thoughts back to these affirmations. Affirming + Grateful Mind: Put your hand on your heart (it gives you endorphins — it’s science). 🙏 Hi, Rose. 🙏 I love you. (If that’s too much you can just say hi). 🙏 I am thankful that I’m here. 🙏 I know you are good enough. 🙏 You can move through this day one step at a time, one breath at a time. 🙏 Whatever this day holds is good enough for you. This is cultivating compassion. This is the start of a compassionate mindfulness practice. Side note: I am a spiritual believer so I put this meditation into the perspective of coming from the creator spirit/soul that is within me. It’s changed the way I see and feel God. And that’s been amazingly life changing too.

St. Paul, Minnesota

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