February 26, 2013

Embracing Yourself in Love

I am so pleased to bring you the next installment from, Misa Leonessa Garavaglia. This week she speaks to the importance of conquering the negative voice and learning to give to ourselves the same generosity and love that we extend to others.


Do you ever stop to listen to your self-talk?  I mean, REALLY listen.  You know, that inner voice that babbles on throughout your day and tells you its opinion about everyone and everything, especially yourself.  When I first started paying close attention to what that voice in my head was saying, I realized it wasn’t my friend.  Instead of telling me how wonderful I was and how proud it was of what I was becoming, it was constantly telling me that I wasn’t enough, that I was a failure and unlovable.   It criticized me continually and doubted every good motive in my heart.  I would never choose to have a friend who treated me that way, yet I let this voice go on day after day, year after year, dragging me down into its pit of negative thinking.

When we are abused as children, we internalize the negative messages that are communicated (mostly non-verbally, but perhaps spoken to us as well) by our abusers.  Our own mind then picks up where the abuser leaves off, speaking the false beliefs that have been ingrained into our brain until our hearts believe nothing else.  We reject ourselves. 

When our wounded inner child doesn’t even have an advocate in our own head, they are truly alone.  Then perhaps we search for someone else who will tell us the truth of our beauty that we cannot tell ourselves.  Rare is the person who can see us beyond the layers of false beliefs we have taken on.  They exist, but are few and far between.  And even when we find one, we often reject the truth of our beauty that they so compassionately speak to us.  We just can’t believe it.

Before we can even begin to embrace love from another, we must start to love ourselves.  We need to come to see our own wounded parts as the beautiful, lovable children they were before they were abused.  We must make room in our hearts to receive them and embrace them in all their beauty and brokenness. 

The first step to doing that is to pay close attention to what you are saying to yourself in your own head.  Where are those thoughts coming from?  Were they planted by someone who did not see you and accept you in your beauty?  As you consider the source, you may decide that you no longer wish to accuse yourself with these judgments.  If that is the case, you can choose to stop thinking them, and instead, replace them with thoughts that are true about you. 

I’d like to share a couple of tools that I used to help me in this process.  First, I made a conscious decision to no longer allow other people to invade my self-talk.  I believe that the only one who knows the full truth about me is my Creator.  I started a habit to stop those thoughts and ask Him what He thinks about me.  Then I chose to believe it.  Next, I began to write to myself.  I started a notebook called Conversations with Myself and started to let my inner child tell me what was on her mind and heart, creating a space to receive what she shares with me without judgment, with patient love and understanding.  I would offer the same to anyone else who shared the deepest secrets of their heart with me, so it made sense to offer it to myself, as well.

The more I rid myself of those voices that peppered my thoughts with rejection and the more I wrote in my notebook, the more I came to see my little wounded part with compassion.  I found the negative, rejecting thoughts disappearing and they were being replaced with a loving embrace.  It felt good.  And it started to change how I interacted with other people, too.

I started expecting others to treat me well, to love me the way I was growing to love myself.  And I was better able to love them.  Those words of rejection I had been chanting to myself had also served to criticize others, whether out loud or just in my head.  The new compassion I was practicing on myself began to leak out toward those I loved, and even to people I didn’t know.  I started acting out of the beauty that had been hidden inside underneath the wounds, the lies, and the self-rejection.  My outward actions became consistent with my inward beauty.

My hope for you this week is that you will learn to think and speak the truth to yourself and leave behind all of the rejecting, destructive thoughts that others have planted in your head.  I have created a PDF document with the Conversations with Myself exercise, as well as a Letter to Myself that I use for my course, Living from the Heart.  You can find it here if you’d like to give it a try.  Next week I’ll share more about the changes that happen in our lives when we learn to embrace ourselves in love.

Check in next week for the third part of Misa’s story.

Misa Leonessa is a life coach and spiritual director specializing in trauma recovery, relationships, communication and spiritual growth.  She has walked the path from surviving to thriving herself, and has a passion to help people heal from childhood abuse. She loves to work with individuals who are committed to pursuing greater relational, emotional and spiritual wholeness.  She created Living from the Heart, a 9 month course and group coaching experience to help people grow deep, authentic intimacy. 

Misa is the host of Beyond Abuse Radio where she shares the wisdom gleaned from her own journey of three decades of healing, as well as interviewing other survivors, helpers, and experts in trauma recovery, providing support and encouragement for those on their healing journey.  She facilitates workshops and conferences for people ready to break patterns of fear and self-protection to find their new inheritance of life, love and joy.

Misa has BA’s in Sociology and Non-Profit Administration from University of the Pacific, is a graduate from Life Skills International and holds a certificate from Mercy Center’s Spiritual Director Institute in Burlingame, California.  She a member of Spiritual Directors International.   She also volunteers for the Survivor’s Healing Center of Santa Cruz and is a TEDX speaker trainer.

Learn more at www.misacoach.com.

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