What do you believe about yourself? We often hear it said that we are spiritual beings, but how much faith do you really have in the unseen power of your own understanding to love you and guide you?
For any of us, the challenge is to not focus so much on what happens to us on the outside or what others believe about us, but to recognize how we process experiences -- how we feel -- on the inside. What we truly believe about ourselves and our potential as human beings is often times the thing that holds us back from reaching for our dreams, or even believing that we deserve the dreams we once had. Do you remember those dreams?
We are at a time where research has proven what spiritually minded people have known all along: This truly is an inside journey. To change our perspective and reach for a higher potential means stepping outside of our comfort zone. It means stretching ourselves beyond the label of alcoholic or addict and understanding that our purpose in life is not just to stay sober, but to go out in the world and serve whatever unique purpose truly brings us joy and fulfillment. This is not a selfish means to an end. When we are happy we lead more productive lives and are able to contribute more to the whole of society. Valuing ourselves implies that we are honoring our spiritual growth and recovery, that we are capable of healthy relations and that we can take responsibility for our emotional and physical wellbeing. Valuing ourselves means continuing to grow towards our deepest desires and aspirations.
The foundation work, offered in the 12 steps of recovery, has been adopted into mainstream society and appears in many facets of the mental health fields, as well as being reframed by motivational speakers, coaching models and positive psychology. Whichever route you choose, each teaches us that if we cultivate gratitude and appreciation, no matter what the circumstances of our lives, we can maintain forward momentum. Reinforced with positive affirmations and meditation, we build faith and trust, not only in a power greater than ourselves, but Faith and Trust in ourselves.
In my early years of recovery I suffered with immobilizing anxiety and fear. Meetings and sponsorship provided fellowship and kept me from isolating. Writing a daily gratitude list started building momentum in a positive direction and planted the seeds of hope that would begin to inspire a whole new way of thinking and believing. I started walking, then running, and began to practice breathing exercises, which led to my daily meditation practice. Sometimes we think it needs to be more complicated than it is, but it’s the consistency that builds a positive mindset, and despite our prior disbelief, feelings of happiness and hope begin to replace what was once despair.
I’m still an introvert, but I have learned how to overcome debilitating fear and anxiety. Today, writing a gratitude list and showing up, even when I am afraid, are two things that continue to bring me positive results. It is the consistency and maintenance that matter most. Stop these exercises and the level of gratitude-induced esteem goes down.
Another esteem building exercise, discovered through my coaching practice, is speaking affirmations into the mirror. It may feel awkward at first, but it can be the catalyst for developing a healthier self-image and helps to confront limiting beliefs that are simmering beneath the surface.
I am human and still have some fear, but today, because of these daily practices, I have the freedom to express and explore life with an open heart and mind. My study of the science and my research gives me the knowledge and expertise to coach these principles, but practicing these life-transforming exercises gives me the experience to validate their effectiveness, through the shifts in my own emotional and spiritual well being. It feels good to feel good and that is why I do what I do. I want to share what I have seen work in others and what I have felt work within my own being.
Building up one’s self-esteem and self-worth happens when we are able to take action, no matter how small, first towards our healing, and then towards the manifestation of our dreams and goals. The freedom to thrive is a beautiful gift. To move beyond survival and dare to dream again, is divine.