Wholeness may seem like an elusive goal – one that sounds great on paper but instead ends up as abstract psychobabble rather than a clear directive to achieve. Many of us know well the opposite condition. We are plagued by self-doubt, with, at times, self-denigrating thoughts that talk at us, seizing on each and every opportunity to shake a finger. “You look terrible today – you have gained weight and it is noticeable. Look at those bags under your eyes, ugh!” “You are so inadequate, you didn’t handle that conversation well at work and your boss spotted your discomfort.” “You did not measure up to your good friend’s intelligent understanding of that concept discussed.” “Your neighbor is so successful – he has money to burn and you are always struggling.” “I didn’t get a promotion or a raise and I feel embarrassed and less-than in front of my peers.” “I am not a good mom – I feel like my daughter rejects me and I get angry with her. The other mom’s at school seem so confident compared to me.” “I wish I had a better relationship with my wife – she boxes me in with her demand for sex and I don’t feel sexy or potent.” This busy dialogue in the brain can be relentless with its constant self-repudiation and we feel badly about ourselves more of the time than we feel content inside. Our good/bad, black/white thinking splits us into two parts making wholeness seem like a distant reality never to be embraced.
What is the experience of a whole self? Well, for starters, our thoughts act as buffers rather than bludgeons when life gives us a painful twist. If we have a bad day, suffer a blow, or wake up exhausted, we habitually create a cushion to lean into that softens and supports rather than a jagged-edged wall that is discouraging and critical. “I could have handled that situation better but I am respected overall.” “I don’t like how I reacted. Oh well, I will watch my reactivity to that issue next time.” “I could get envious about Sandra’s new promotion but instead I am happy to be supportive of my good friend.” “I weighed myself finally and though I’ve gained 5 lbs, my weight does not define me.” “I am an industrious person and am proud of myself even if I didn’t do such a thorough job on that project.”
Try not to look at yourself in black and white – either I am good, right, so smart, and desirable, or I am bad, a reject, inadequate, stupid, and foolish, and everyone knows it. Watch how you speak to yourself and if you start feeling superior, smug or judgmental or super down-on-yourself, you know you are in trouble.
Speak to your self easily, with tolerance and kindness. Give yourself a break or a strong push but in a way that you can hear. Watch your tendency to worry and fret and go over things – a conversation with another, a decision you made – and stop over-thinking, doubting and driving yourself crazy with obsessive thoughts of coulda, woulda, shoulda.
Temper your communications with yourself and others. Let your compassionate voice reign and feel the peace and quiet of a calmer mind that always speaks to you with gentleness.