How to Like Ourselves More

steven furtick, highlight reel steven furtick, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

I’ve shared before that I really enjoy Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson’s Being Well, podcast. I’ve gotten a lot from it over the last nine-ish months. I listen every week. Last week’s episode was “Building a Better Relationship with Yourself (aka How to Like Ourselves More).” Here’s the description:

The most important relationship we have is with ourselves. You’re the only person you’ll be around every minute of every day for the rest of your life. And, unfortunately, that relationship is often our most difficult one. Today Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson explore how we can become better friends to ourselves, and learn to like ourselves more.

What I found useful in this episode is the conversation surrounding the ways in which we are overly focused on the faults in ourselves – hyper-focused in some cases – and compare our lives to those around us. We use everyone else’s highlight reel as the yardstick with which we measure our lives, judge ourselves, etc. As Pastor Steven Furtick says, “The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is never more true than now as we are constantly exposed to other people’s social media version of their lives. We don’t see their inner thoughts. We don’t necessarily know when they’re behaving badly. We don’t see their bad habits. And we compare ourselves and our own hyper-critical narrator, against a version of others that is not likely to be a full picture of who they are.

In this episode, Dr. Hanson shares a way to practice “being for yourself.” While I can’t possibly recap the whole thing and wouldn’t want to – as Dr. Hanson’s words are incredibly poignant, here’s an important quote. And then I’ve shared how he basically summed up the entire practice of being for yourself.

“Can you look at yourself, as someone, like any other human, who deserves decency and fairness – including in the accurate appraisal of yourself – seeing yourself accurately, & holding yourself to the same standard that you hold other people to, no less – no more?” – Dr. Rick Hanson

If you view yourself in the ways that I used to, the answer is probably no. Here’s how he summed up the practice – or ways of thinking about how to be “for yourself.”

1. It’s okay to seek good for yourself.
2. Be compassionate toward yourself (as you would others).
3. Be strong on your own behalf.

I think there’s something really powerful here and in the “positive inner voices” that we should be focusing on – in the same way we would be positive and compassionate toward those around us. If a friend were hurting, would we be cruel or compassionate? Would we beat them up? It’s not likely. We want what’s best for them.

I believe we behave out of what’s in our hearts and thoughts. If we wouldn’t beat up our friends or speak condemnation and ugliness into their lives – why do we do it to ourselves? If a friend told me her husband was abusive with his words – though he’d never hurt her physically? What would I say to her? I would point out all of the lies in his words and tell her she deserves better than to be treated that way. I would point out all of the ways in which she is a great person, with a good heart, that deserves to be loved and cared for.

And yet, we frequently beat ourselves bloody, focusing more on what we’ve done wrong or how we’ve made mistakes – versus viewing ourselves compassionately and through a lens of self-acceptance. Do condemning words and focus on our faults – get us anywhere? Not with me. This whole idea of “being for ourselves” absolutely does not mean that we’re narcissists or that we somehow don’t have our own stuff to work on. But what I’ve come to accept is that without that compassion toward myself, I’m actually less able to work on the things I’d like to change about myself. Beating myself up holds me back.

There’s something very powerful about seeing ourselves accurately. If you’re a believer, this also means that you accept the way in which God views you. There’s little evidence to show that he views you as a horrible, rotten piece of trash. I mean – that’s the whole point of Grace. The Bible talks about the way that God redeems us and offers us this grace so freely. We exchange the old person for the new person. But so often there’s a hyper-focus on the stuff we’d rather not admit to. That’s not at all what God is focused on. It’s not the identity that He’s given us. I’m convinced that seeing ourselves accurately requires that we offer ourselves the same compassionate response we offer others and seeing ourselves as He does, in Him.

If you’re really great at beating yourself up and not so great at being compassionate toward yourself, listen to the podcast (linked above). It’s worth your time.








Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs

Dr. Rick Hanson, Being Well, Wellness, Elaina Avalos, Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs

If you’re pursuing wellness, particularly wellness as it pertains to your mental health, this is a great podcast to check out. While I don’t agree with everything I hear on the podcast (some doesn’t fit certain areas of my faith), I have found that much of what Dr. Hanson (and his son Forrest) discuss on the podcast, is immensely helpful. What I think is most helpful is what I have come to see as Dr. Hanson’s emphasis on our ability to control and impact our well-being, thinking, and ultimately emotions. This is a great episode. Click HERE to check it out. This podcast is one of my favorite things.

Hope, Faith, & Ho’oponopono

viktor frankl, stimulus quote, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

When I posted on Monday, I was a little down in the dumps. My heart is a little beat up and on top of it all, Tuesday morning, I took an early morning phone call, while getting ready for work. A former colleague has passed away. I felt like a zombie all day Tuesday. I made stupid mistakes, I was all over the place. Tuesday afternoon, I took the dog to the vet. She’s got some powerful meds to help get her through an infection and some inflammation. I hope this will put her on the right track. But she’s “old” and I worry about losing her. By last night, I just wasn’t okay. It has been one thing after another, you know?

The thing about this former colleague is that it not only broke my heart – but it drove home – how short our time on earth, actually is. It is just a mere blip. I just saw this person a few weeks ago at work. Initially, I felt a weight in the grief of it all. I had a good long cry last night. But as this loss settles in, I think it’s a far more powerful tribute to the impact this person made in my professional community, to doggedly live this wild life I know is waiting for me. Maybe the word, wild throws you off. I’ll have to write about that someday. But one of the things I mean by that is that I want to live counter to a culture that celebrates things and titles and live in the moment tasting and experiencing life and all it offers us. There’s a richness and beauty to life, but it’s often lost in the pursuit of everything else. But it’s not just that! I think we often lose out on the life we are meant to live – the life we want to live – as these painful moments rear their head, because we won’t face them.

The temptation for me & I’m sure for many others, is to shrink back in our moments of loss, pain, grief, etc. But I’ve decided this is exactly when I need to turn the dial up on my commitment to myself to chase dreams and live fully – each day. What I’m now learning (and leaning to accept) is that I can’t get there without facing the losses, pain, and grief. My words for 2021 were hope & faith. In these moments when I most want to pull the cover over my head and escape the sadness of it all, I’d rather choose hope and faith. I love joy. I love the simple things in life. In the weight of loss, it’s easy to lose track of that. I’m choosing hope & faith – against appearances. But I can’t get there without first facing the other stuff, head on.

In a slightly related and possibly also unrelated note (I’m sure that makes perfect sense to everyone), I read an article yesterday, on Elephant Journal, about the concept of HO’OPONOPONO. The article on Elephant Journal doesn’t do the concept justice – in my opinion. But I’m so glad I saw it. That article led me to do some more reading and then I found this article & video. I found it far more helpful. It’s essentially an ancient Hawaiian practice used to resolve conflicts within family units. But was used later by a therapist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and others.

The thing about HO’OPONOPONO, in what I’ve read so far, is that I think its beauty and the healing concepts, come – as you choose acceptance for what is – for wrong done to you or that you’ve done, for that matter. You’re not focusing on changing the person who has hurt you, or who you need to forgive, or the situation, for that matter. You are, however, working on your perception of the situation. The result is forgiveness, love, and comfort, too. This is all a lot to add to this post. Especially when I just read about it for the first time yesterday. But the way it ties together for me, is that my perception of what’s happening, is often what is pulling me out into the current – further from hope & faith. The balance that is gained (or I guess I should say regained) can open the door to that restoration of your hope and faith – because you’re no longer tied down by unforgiveness and the painful emotions.

I’m rambling now. The bottom line is that I’m learning all around me – from people like Brene (in this post), my therapist, and in unlikely places too – that facing the stuff head on is actually the route to hope, healing, and light in the dark places. So in this season of loss, added to the season before it, I’ve made that commitment to myself this evening. I’ll keep facing it. And through that, I’m certain I’ll get closer and closer to living this dream I’ve been chasing so long.

*The Viktor Frankl quote above was given to me today, by my therapist. It’s perfect.

And honestly, it’s kind of freeing, in my opinion.*

Self-Care Sunday

self care sunday, elaina m. avalos, elaina avalos, self compassion

I’m not sure how often I’ll make time for these posts on Sundays, but I’m working on some new aspects of self-care right now. And when I discover something that’s useful, I will share. First, I am in therapy. I think there’s goodness in therapy for many. For some reason, many of us are uncomfortable with admitting or talking about this, however. But what could be better than talking to someone about things in our lives we want to change, learn, or heal from? Both of the things I’m sharing today were suggested by my therapist. Second, when I first tried the mediation practice below, a number of months ago, I wasn’t into it. In fact, I could barely go a minute without being totally distracted. I don’t think I truly heard enough to really know whether it was a useful tool or not. So, all that to say that if you’ve wondered how meditation could help you with anxiety or anything else for that matter – give it a shot and if it doesn’t quite feel right, give it time and try again. Or maybe search for a different one.

Self-Compassion:
The concept of self-compassion honestly felt weird to me. I didn’t really get it. And the first time I tried this, I don’t think I was at a place where I understood it or even would have accepted it. But in recent weeks, some things have changed for me and for the first time, this concept of self-compassion makes sense. It doesn’t just make sense though, I feel it in my heart. I’ve seen where in my life I have been “at war” with myself and have allowed messages of unworthiness to be reiterated over and over again – but in my own thought processes – which then in turn repeats in circumstances in my life. If you find yourself noticing in your thought life that you’re super hard on yourself, expecting perfection or warring with yourself over things you can and can’t control, you may feel some release from this practice of self-compassion.

A quick note – if you are someone that is uncomfortable with meditation because your Christian worldview has led you to believe it’s not okay – I get it. But, I would say that what I’ve come to over the years is that God does use many things around us to teach, heal, and open our eyes. Where meditation or yoga or whatever, feels uncomfortable, it’s very easy to replace terms or foundations with Biblical truth. This idea of self-compassion should truly be seen from the perspective of how God views us as His children. This meditation allows us to connect with the person we truly are, absent of the constantly repeating messages of our own unworthiness. Which also means that we are seeing ourselves in our identity in Him. If you find that you’re repeating negative thought patterns that are impacting you in the day to day, give this a shot. I am honestly blown away by not only the emotion I felt through this practice, but in how at peace I felt as I acknowledged how I’m feeling about myself and then practiced a little of the compassion and grace I need (that, oh by the way, God offers me so freely).

Podcasts:

I’ve been adding podcasts to my weekly lists of to-dos. I love learning, experiencing life through other’s views, and finding ways to grow as a person. But honestly, for a long time, I’ve kind of shut off this curiosity in me. National Public Radio has always met this need for me and as I’ve been listening again to some of my favorites, it has gotten me into the habit of seeking out podcasts that meet this curiosity and desire for growth. Below are a few of the podcasts I’m listening to on a rotating basis. But for today, I wanted to share Untangle. I subscribe through my Apple podcast app – but you can find it at the link, too.

If you’re looking for some understanding about relationships, I highly recommend the February 16th episode, called “Navigating Love and Relationships Anytime” with Daphne Rose Kingma (see link for one of her many books on relationships – this one called Coming Apart: How to Heal Your Broken Heart). While I could see myself listening to this again, one of the things I took from this was being at peace with what a relationship brings to your life – even when it doesn’t last. Additionally, I learned a little about accepting a man’s ability or inability to be expressive of emotion. Good stuff.

Here are a few others I am listening to:
This American Life
The Bible Recap
Being Well
The Moth

Do you have any favorite podcasts {in the self-care or self-help genre}? What is something you have to do each week {or every day} for your own self-care?