Today is Valentine’s Day and as a result there is a deluge of articles being circulated out there about how to have happy relationships, how to find your soul mate, how to find love and all the usual type of stuff that you’d expect.
I have written on these subjects a great deal in the past, but do not feel I have a great deal more to offer that is new or interesting and relevant. As I wracked my brain in the last week or so for something to write to link in to Valentine’s Day, I thought about the notion of self-acceptance instead.
Loving oneself is a fabulous thing and enriches our experience of life, yet how do we go about doing that? I think the simplest and most effective way is through self-acceptance. That is what today’s article is all about.
Throughout my own recent training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and my love of all things mindfulness, I have discovered a wide array of techniques, approaches and strategies to experience self-acceptance. Even before I did that study, I had written about how to develop rapport by accepting others for who and how they are.
Some of us will have a negative perception of ourselves, even if only temporary as a result of an issue in life. Especially at Valentine’s Day when those without a special relationship may feel a particular way, often negative. Some of us may have unwanted beliefs about ourselves and our lives which are unduly critical. Some of us may just have uncomfortable or unwanted feelings as a result of our ongoing experience of life.
Any or all of the above can contribute to a less than satisfactory experience of life and affect our perception of who and how we are. Therefore, when you accept your feelings and accept yourself, there is no fight, no waste of energy and you get to be at one with who you are…
Essentially, this process today is a mindfulness exercise, with various components. As you’d expect from a meddling hypnotherapist and determined self-hypnosis teacher as myself, I have incorporated the use of self-hypnosis to magnify it throughout, however, that is not essential if you prefer to do it without the addition of self-hypnosis.
9 Steps To Use Self-Hypnosis & Mindfulness To Truly Accept Yourself On Valentine’s Day:
Prior to beginning, have a think of the week you have had, maybe recent weeks, think of the recent days and be aware of any issues you have been working on, think about any criticisms you may have had of yourself, think of any self-judgments you may have made and just gauge the general tone of the relationship you have with yourself.
Be seated rather than lying down for this process today. Be sat upright, with the crown of your head facing the ceiling, your arms and legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor. You want to remain focused and receptive throughout this exercise. Awareness is key throughout. Once you are in a good receptive posture, follow these steps:
Step One: Induce Hypnosis. You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my self-hypnosis book, use the free audio at this website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:
Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two
Step Two: Start to be observant of who and how you are in this moment.
Conduct a thorough scan of your body starting from the very top of your head to the very tips of your toes.
As you scan through your entire body, tune in to as many notable sensations that are there. Focus in and notice as many differing sensations that you can feel in your head, throat, neck, shoulders, chest, tummy, back, arms, hands, legs and feet.
Do this thoroughly and slowly, be patient as you scan through your entire body detecting as much sensation as you possibly can.
Now focus more directly in on a part of your body, an area of your physical self that has a most intense feeling, a most intense sensation of some kind. A feeling related to who and how you perceive of yourself and think about yourself. Related to some of the thoughts you had immediately prior to step one.
Then watch and observe the feeling closely. I was taught to look at the feeling “as if you’re a curious scientist who has never encountered anything like this before.”
(Harris, ACT Made Simple)
Continue to notice the sensation carefully. Any thoughts that enter your mind, just let them drift away, no need to focus on them. Keep tuned into the feeling, keep watching it; become aware of whereabouts it begins, if it was coloure, what would it be? If it had a sound, what would that be? Does it have a temperature? What shape is it? Is it still or moving? Is it the same throughout, or are there parts that are different to other parts? Just become aware of all the characteristics of the feeling.
Be curious of it and get as much detail as possible about the feeling, its location and observe it deeply. Once you have spent a little while longer tuning right into the feeling and have got as much information and awareness of it as possible, move on to step three.
Step Three: Now start to tune into your breathing. Just watch it and observe it to begin with.
Continue to watch the feeling, and now imagine that you are breathing into it. Breathe into the feeling. Let your breathing move in and around the feeling, let your breathing immerse the feeling and connect with it comfortably.
Spend some moments doing this calmly and naturally without interfering with your breathing too much. Then move on to step four.
Step Four: Begin to expand your awareness and engage your imagination even further in whatever way seems most appropriate and correct to you.
As you watch the feeling, while you continue to breathe into it, imagine that a space opens up within you. You can imagine this in whatever way is right for you, interpret it in whatever way fits you.
Just imagine that space begins to open up within you, a space that is growing around the feeling you are focusing on. Imagine that you are opening up and making space for the feeling within you.
Continue to breathe into the feeling, use your imagination to open up and create space around the feeling and give it more space. Once you have created plenty of space within yourself, then move on to step five.
Step Five: Now you allow that feeling to be there. Just let it be there in that space.
You may not like the feeling necessarily, and whatever you think about it, just let it be in that space. Allow it to be there, then continue to observe it, continue to breathe into it, continue to open up and make space for it and be ok with that. Don’t judge it, don’t try to change it, and don’t try to stop it from changing, just watch, give it space and allow it to be there in that space.
Resist any urge to change it or alter it, or remove it, and just be ok with it. Aim to simply let it be.
Once you have spent some time just allowing the feeling to be there, move on to step six.
Step Six: Now we are going to do what is referred to in NLP as ‘nominalise’ but in ACT is referred to as ‘objectifying’.
Tune into the feeling and become aware of it being a ‘thing’ and ‘object’ – turn it into an object. Notice the shape, the colour, the physical qualities (or maybe it is liquid or gas?), the movement it makes and just let it become an object with a number of qualities and charaterisitcs that you recognize and are aware of.
Continue to watch it closely, with curiosity. Continue to breathe into it and make space for it and allow it to be there.
Importantly, do notice that however big the feeling gets, it can never be bigger than you. Then move on to the next step.
Step Seven: Now let’s put everything in a regular, usual and normal perspective.
Let this feeling tell you something valuable. Let it communicate a message to you – the message it communicates is that you a normal human being with a heart. There are things that matter to you in life. Sometimes there is a gap between what we want and we have got. Sometimes this creates unwanted feelings.
Let everything gather some perspective, let the feeling normalise itself in relation to you and who you are. Put it all into a regular and usual sense of perspective, then move on to the next step.
Step Eight: Now you are going to experience self-compassion.
Simply place one of your hands on the part of your body where the feeling is, or as near to it as you can get. Imagine it is a loving, healing, helpful hand that sends love, warmth and acceptance within you and through you.
You are not trying to dissipate it, or get rid of it, you are just holding it, accepting it, giving it space. Almost as if you were holding a baby in your arms.
Relax your hand, let it return to it position of relaxation and continue to breathe into the feeling, around it, give it space, open up and allow it to be there, expanding your awareness of it.
Move on to the final step.
Step Nine: Enhance your awareness and bring this session to an end.
Take a couple of larger, deeper breaths. Wiggle your fingers and toes and open your eyes. Tune into your surroundings.
If you follow my self-hypnosis protocol, then you can count from 1 through to 5 to help bring yourself up and out thoroughly.
With this process, you get to accept yourself, you get to expression compassion, love, acceptance for yourself while being aware, it is a wonderful, liberating thing to do and I cannot think of anyone who deserves that more on Valentines day than showing yourself that level of commitment, acceptance and love.
I’ll leave you on this Valentines day with the written lyrics of the song ‘I am what I am’ sung here by Gloria Gaynor, surely the ultimate song for self-acceptance…