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We all go through challenges in life that have us knee-deep in mud doing our best to plod through the day.
As a friend once told me, “Life isn’t for the faint of heart.”
Having had major depression, I was up to my neck in mud. Feelings of sadness and shame overcame me and seemed to replace the joyful, caring, intuitive person who loved to make people laugh.
Over time, I began to identify with the person I was while experiencing depression. Judgmental thinking patterns began to bully me into believing that I had permanently become a taker instead of a giver, unworthy of connection. I was no longer someone experiencing a transitory state of depression, but instead this new and warped sense of my personality began to form and take hold.
For most of us, even if it’s not as extreme this example, there are situations that can bring up the most dysfunctional parts of our personality. We follow deluded states of mind and behaviors that erode our sense of integrity and self-respect.
During these moments, as we’ve taken a deep dive into the mud pile that life can throw our way, when we feel least deserving of compassion, we must treat ourselves as we would a cherished friend. Remember that we are not the dried mud on our face; we are simply in need of a warm compress to gently wash the dirt away.
Here are three ways to begin again by pushing past shame to reclaim our innate spiritual birthright for greatness:
1. Put the past behind you.
There are times when we let ourselves down—failing at a New Year’s resolution for the umpteenth time; saying something hurtful when we promised we wouldn’t; not standing by commitments to ourselves and others.
Often, we can be our toughest critics, magnifying our every wrongdoing thinking that once exposed we’ll be unworthy of love and acceptance. We forget to hug the inner child that deserves our unconditional support and kindness.
You may be judging yourself right now by thinking, You don’t know me. You don’t know how many times I’ve made the same mistakes over and over again.
Do you think you’re alone in this flawed and vulnerable human experience?
We’re all doing the best we can, and we can do better; both statements are equally true at the same time.
2. This too shall pass.
Though a seemingly overused adage, “this too shall pass” is as relevant and pertinent as ever.
During a depressed state, it can feel like it’s never going to end, that difficult periods in life will simply last forever. Experiencing any given emotion or thought does not define a person.
As the Rabbi of Breslov said, “Falling down is the beginning of rising up.” The fact that we’re so disrupted by moments in which we’ve let ourselves down is an amazing reminder to return to our true selves as loving, compassionate, and soulful beings with a purpose far greater than ourselves.
3. Focus on your core values.
Who are you at your best? What personality traits do you or others appreciate most about yourself? Identify your core values and create daily rituals that move you in that direction.
Write down moments when you felt that you were living up to your personal standards. Take out pictures of yourself or tokens that remind you of times when you felt aligned with your best self. Let those flashes of self-pride and memories return you home to yourself.
Allow yourself to lean in to the moments in which you’ve abided by your innate wisdom.
Encourage and applaud yourself every time, no matter how “small,” that you begin to push past limiting thoughts and to unlock the expansive and limitless person inside you.