From not accepting compliments to commiserating with friends, these are the kinds of socially accepted patterns of thinking and communicating that can be a negative force in one's life. But a few simple twists to our thinking and actions can positively alter these habits, and often with profound impact on our lives, according to Texas-based yoga instructor and contributor to MindBodyGreen.com Rebecca Butler, who offers the following suggestions for change.
Natural Vitality Living: How important is the way we see ourselves?
Rebecca Butler: We train others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. When we see ourselves as insignificant, we are teaching the world that we are, in fact, not of importance. But if we can live from a place of owning our significance, our lives become stronger and brighter. In this process we inspire others, who in turn inspire us. It's a cycle. We then begin attracting positive people, events and circumstances to us, rather than evidence that our lives are dreary or impossible. Choose to see the beauty of your own soul and to let that shine without attachment, without expectation.
NVL: Everybody has secrets, but can keeping secrets cause inner tension?
RB: Most of our secrets are associated with shame and embarrassment. This means we are carrying this around with us all of the time. Shame and humiliation are fear based and they can render you helpless, as you're always worried that someone will discover . . . something. It can be scary as hell, but once you start exposing these dark pieces to the light, an amazing thing happens: connection. You will likely find that you are not alone. I'm not advocating sharing your deepest secrets with a stranger. It's important that you forge a bond, someone you trust, and you share with him or her. If you are terrified, take baby steps. Once you have cleared these dark pockets, things start changing. You are less concerned about what others think about you; in turn, you are more inclined to be yourself, your true self, and the one you might keep hidden.
NVL: Are we creating problems for ourselves by constantly complaining and commiserating with friends?
RB: When we complain and commiserate too much, we are blocking the more positive aspects of ourselves. Take a breath and make a decision that feeds you rather than depletes you. Instead of complaining, try speaking of gratitude. It can take discipline to do this, but you'll be surprised at how much better you feel.
NVL: We're taught not to be conceited or get too full of ourselves. This sometimes expresses itself as having difficulty accepting compliments. Is this natural or are we conforming to peer pressure?
RB: Tell a child she is beautiful. She smiles and she knows. She doesn't downplay this truth. Somewhere along the line, someone convinces us to dim our light. Someone, somewhere convinces us it is a better idea to dim our light to make them more comfortable. Choose a different path. Recognize that you are here to enjoy life and then set about allowing it to be. When someone offers you a compliment, you will smile and allow it to land. And then you might just feel compelled to share the light with them and offer them one, a genuine one, right back.
Rebecca Butler is a yoga instructor at the Fort Worth, Texas, donation-based studio Karmany Yoga. She is a regular contributor to MindBodyGreen.com. Find out more about her at RebeccaButlerYoga.com where you can also sign up to attend her upcoming Choose Joy retreat to Aruba with The Travel Yogi, February 2-8, 2014.