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Loving Kindness

I speak from personal experience and from the observations of people I'm close to; we are our harshest critics.

The toll this takes on our emotional well-being is huge, however we seem to put up with it because we think that we need to be hard on ourselves to be 'better people', to 'learn from our mistakes', so that we can be 'successful'. The society that I live in embraces self-punishment as a form of  self-improvement.  We focus on feeling guilty rather than feeling remorse; different words with vastly different meanings. I think we fear that if we aren't hard on ourselves that we won't learn or get lazy and not improve.

Modern psychology has definitively determined that self-punishment does not help us, in fact in often slows us or prevents us from changing or take a different course of action in the future. I can remind myself of this until I'm blue in the face but unlearning that self-punishment is not helpful is a tough thing to do and takes time and patience with oneself.

The inner compass that reminds me of what makes me feel good about myself and what doesn't has yet to fail me if I listen to it. It's only when I listen so definitively to self-punishment that my inner compass is overshadowed by thoughts and feelings associated with self-punishment. There are many types of self-punishment, however what I'm specifically referring to is the barrage of negative thoughts and emotions that we buy into and feed ourselves.

To move out of self-punishment and into something healthy often takes a shift in thinking. Loving kindness meditation is an experiential way to make this shift and it's effects are nothing less than amazing.


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