Finding Meaning

Our parents are our first mirrors.As we grow, we look to our primary caregivers to give us feedback and help guide us through a world unknown. What gets reflected back to us is the basis upon which we form our first self-impressions. Based on these reflections, we begin to develop a self-concept as we identify ourselves more with certain attributes, less with others.

Establishing healthy relationships means establishing healthy boundaries and clear and respectful guidelines for how we want to be treated by others.If you’ve ever been to therapy or read self-help books, you are likely to have come across the term, “setting boundaries”. In the past, I would skim over those words or nod my head in agreement with my therapist without giving this idea much thought. It wasn’t until I found myself exhausted from pouring so much of myself into everyone else, and resentful when I felt mistreated, that I realized I needed to perk up and learn what I could do to set my own boundaries.

Inner child work is something that is typically explored in therapy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Some of the most powerful “soul work” comes from looking at our inner child, or ourselves at various stages in childhood. It is particularly profound when we explore ourselves at a time when we may have experienced trauma of some kind. Trauma evokes such a strong, visceral and emotional reaction within, that it often stays with us for years afterwards and perhaps for an entire lifetime. Trauma doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific event. In fact, a chronic low-grade trauma in childhood such as a neglectful, dismissive or critical parent can yield a similar stress response.

Everyone knows that in order for a muscle to get stronger it has to be exercised routinely, not only by incrementally increasing the weight, but also by exercising it in a variety of different ways so that it is consistently challenged.  Our brains are no different. From the second we are born our brains are eagerly engaged, actively absorbing and processing what is going on around us.

For most of us, self-compassion is a theoretical concept that sounds nice if only we had the energy to ever get around to it. We know it’s something we should master for our own personal development, but what does it really mean and how do we truly get accustomed to incorporating this practice into our daily lives?

Death is ultimately what many people fear, but we all experience other losses throughout our lives. Loss comes in many forms: our loved one dies and we are left with painful feelings in their absence, we go through a divorce and are left to navigate our lives without the partner we thought we would have, our children grow up and move away from us, or we identify ourselves with our job and one day it’s just gone.