Why mindfulness underpins your sense of self-worth
A few weeks ago I published a post on this blog and a few minutes later, checked to see how it was doing. A few minutes after that, I checked again. I must have looked more than 50 times that day. Each time I opened the site, I triggered my stress response, anticipating either elation or disappointment. My heart started beating faster, my breathing became shallow, my neck and shoulder muscles tightened and my stomach started to churn.
By the afternoon I was wrung out, nauseous and edgy. The very sight of my laptop made me feel ill. I couldn’t believe what I had done to myself. I was both amazed and horrified at how quickly my ego had become tied up with this post. It was as though my entire self-worth was suddenly completely dependent on how many ‘likes’ it got. For some reason that day (and many others), I was swept up by an overwhelming need for external validation.
I forced myself to pack away my laptop in the back of a cupboard and found a spot to sit in meditation as far away from it as possible. Once I had restored a sense of peace and calm to my mind and body, I was able to see it for what it was. As a human being in relationship with the world and those around me, I wanted to be liked and considered worthwhile. But is that why I am writing this blog? I bare my soul and my journey in the hope that someone might just connect with it somewhere along the way. I write to share, but the content of my posts are an expression of my soul’s true purpose in this world. My stories may not appeal to many but they are my truth. So whether they are ‘liked’ or not, shouldn’t impact on my sense of self-worth.
It was as though my entire self-worth was suddenly completely dependent on how many ‘likes’ it got.
Even so, there are often times (like that day) when I notice that my thoughts have jumped aboard the train of self doubt. And its a punishing journey, whichever path it takes. Luckily, practising mindfulness allows me to notice more often when this is happening. When I do, I am able to see these thoughts for what they are: just thoughts.
The same goes for the emotions that arise with these thoughts, such as frustration, worry and fear. Often they carry me away without me realising. But when I am aware enough to notice, I find that if I turn towards them, feeling the sensations they create in my body and accepting them fully, they tend to dissipate. Treating myself with compassion in these moments (rather than beating myself up even more for being negative), helps me to recognise and allow these thoughts and emotions to flow, and then go.
So now, when I notice myself checking the numbers on my posts, I take a break from my laptop, breathe and practice self-compassion. I realise that I can learn just as much from what doesn’t work as from what does. It is all information and it is all valuable. As always, I aim to do well, but now more than ever, I realise that it is not the doing that is important, it is how I am being in any given moment. In that being I am free. And in that freedom I discover my true self-worth, unconditional, infinite and eternal, just like my soul.
If you are interested in learning mindfulness, and would like to join the Wellbeing team in Mindful in May, a 31-day mindfulness meditation challenge designed to help you to establish your own mindfulness practice, please click here. For more information on Mindful in May, see the website http://www.mindfulinmay.org
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