A Coaching Power Tool Created by Mea Blauer
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES)
The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. ― C.G. Jung
“You are not that important, and those around you could benefit if you just went away. The world wouldn’t miss you that much anyway.”
It was the all too familiar voice that Lena heard in her mind so many times. It was loud, clear and very convincing. If the world was as indifferent to her existence as that voice expressed, would she matter to herself? Would she care? These questions persisted in Lena’s mind for so long, it felt like a lifetime. She allowed that voice to rule her life, feeling herself convinced that she didn’t matter. She knew all the well the consequences of the inner dialogue: the next day she would feel lonely, unworthy, small, insignificant, she would dislike herself, feel powerless and she would not be able to look herself in the eye.
However, that night, something changed. She realized that this scenario would play like this forever if something didn’t changed. The self-loathing, feelings of depression, loneliness, self-indifference and disconnection from the world will always be there after she went through the same self-talk scenario. She knew it because it was what happened every time. She had the experience of a lifetime to know that things will not be different if she didn’t do something to change it. That night she made the brave decision to change the relationship with herself. She made the choice to change that inner dialogue. She no longer wanted to feel small, insignificant, lonely and indifferent to herself. She wanted to matter and she wanted her life to make a difference in the world. She knew at that moment that in order for all of that to happen, she needed to start loving herself.
The story outlined above may be the story of anyone who has struggled with self-love, Lena included. As someone who had no idea how to even define self-love, the road to practicing it seemed impossible. Lena just knew that something had to change within herself, she knew that she needed to view herself differently and she could not do that while ignoring her feelings, needs and desires. The challenge she was faced with in this change was how can she could go from self-indifference and dislike to self-love, when she had never learned how to do that and she had no tools to get there. She knew she needed some inner exploration, especially around self-worth but also around what exactly self-love looked like. This is where she decided to start.
What is self-love?
From her own life experience and beliefs, Lena thought that she could love herself when she no longer felt negative emotions, made undesirable choices, always acted properly and looked pretty much like a saint to other people. As she defined self-love that way, she realized that negative emotions have always been present and most likely will be there for the rest of her life. She also realized that there will be times when her choices will be less than desirable, despite her best intentions and there was no way she could keep up the appearance of a saint without feeling exhausted. She asked herself, “if this is not what self-love is, then what is it?”. Through inner exploration and using her own feelings as a guide (feeling good meant she was closer to her own truth, feeling uncomfortable farther away), she realized that self-love meant being kind, caring and accepting to herself when all negative things occurred.
What is self-indifference?
This was different than what she felt before. Lena would ignore her feelings, be indifferent to her inner guide, and put herself down if she felt any negative emotions or made choices that didn’t make her happy. Indifference of her own inner environment was no longer acceptable. Lena felt as if she woke up from a sleep, the sleep of self-indifference. She felt that how she cared for herself, how she gave herself the things she needed, how she followed her inner guide were no longer things that would be acknowledged occasionally, but necessities of a happy, healthy and wholesome life. The lack of these things in her life would throw her back into self-indifference.
Change in perspective
For Lena, self-indifference meant self-ignoring. Her feelings, emotions, thoughts were set aside. Her choices and actions came from what seemed acceptable to other people. Her own opinion of herself did not matter so much, even if her choices were not self-supportive. She ignored how she felt as a consequence of her actions, even if the overall sentiment was one of general dissatisfaction. Moreover, she would criticize herself for feeling that way. Ignoring herself at every level, left Lena unhappy, powerless and angry with life. The inner dialogue was one of self-criticism and blame which did not allow for much positive forward movement.
The watershed moment in Lena’s change of perspective came from the realization that self-love does not mean the elimination of negative things in her life, but acceptance of herself with those things present. She started to pay attention to her emotions, feelings, ask herself what she wanted and needed in the present moment and how she can provide herself with those things (even if that meant asking for help from others). Self-love became a process, a routine of self-care born out of the desire to change the relationship with herself. She began to see herself as important in her own life, she felt the power of self-acceptance, self-forgiveness and she tapped into the capacity for deep empathy for the human struggle which was so evident in herself. This opened up in her the ability to feel compassion for herself and others. It changed how she related to others and made her realize that they are experiencing the same turmoil. Her change in perspective finally ended the fight to eliminate the negative things in her life and gave her the opportunity to embrace life in its totality and love herself through all of it.
In order to coach a client like Lena, it is first necessary to establish an acknowledgement of what is going on in the client’s internal environment. I have developed the following sequence of questioning that I have used it in my own personal life with great success.
- How can you acknowledge (feelings, emotions, thoughts, actions, etc.) what is going on at the present moment fully?
- How can you accept (not remove or push away from your experience) what is going on at the present moment?
- How can you love yourself (while feelings, emotions, thoughts are present) fully right now?
- What choices would you make if you were to ask yourself “what would love do now?” perspective?
- How can you follow through with those choices?
One can use this tool every time self-judgment, negative emotions and thoughts arise. Personally I have found this tool very effective in restoring peace of mind, in accomplishing self-acceptance and in growing awareness of my own inner experience.
It is also important to note that this will be an ongoing process. There will be times when old pain will arise, when circumstances will generate feelings of inadequacy, fear and perhaps unworthiness. It is important in those moments to pause and become aware of what is going on on the inside. Then engage in the process outlined above. This will be necessary to be done consciously until the process has internalized and it will become automatic in times when self-love and acceptance are needed.
For Lena, the personal transformation from self-indifference to self-love, lead to a feeling of kindness to herself, self-understanding, inner peace and also to an absolutely transformed relationship with others. Her inner self-love gave way to more comprehension of others, their own inner struggle, giving her empathy and compassion for them. At the same time, however, it provided the inspiration and hope that others can have the same relationships with themselves if they made self-love a priority in their lives.
My own personal story of learning self-love began with a simple but powerful question that one of my coaches asked me. It shook my world and provided a powerful catalyst for my own inner change. The question was this: “Can you look into your own eyes and say to yourself, I love you unconditionally?” I invite you to ask yourself this question while looking yourself in your own eyes in the mirror. I also invite you to answer the following questions:
- What did you feel when you asked yourself that question?
- Was it what you expected?
- What does the answer say about the relationship with yourself?
- What are you willing to do about that?
- What support is necessary for you to pursue a loving relationship with yourself?
- How do you believe your life will change when you love yourself unconditionally?
I personally believe that when one gets to a place of total self-acceptance and love, the need for judgment of oneself and others will naturally disappear. What will be left is sense of deep empathy, compassion and acceptance for the human existence.