Deviant since Mar 24, 2005 | Premium Member 'til Hell freezes over
When I'm bad, I'm better.
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Welcome to Dark Photomanipulation Week here at Project Educate! Thank you for having us as your guests this week. We will be featuring photomanipulations and some mixed media from the Dark category and related categories, such as Horror & Macabre. We will be featuring everything from fantasy-dark to bloody-dark. So, we are, for now, defining "dark" rather broadly.
When Lyricanna suggested I write a mental health article on being kind to yourself, I naturally loved the idea and set aside some time to do it. But, I gotta confess . . . this is much harder than I had anticipated! What does "being kind to yourself" really mean?
So, I'll describe some things that I do for myself, and maybe it'll strike a chord with some of you. I want to hear what you do, though!
Sometimes we hear, "be kind to yourself!" and we think, "Wow, but I really screwed something up. I shouldn't let myself off the hook so easily for screwing things up!"
I feel this way often, pretty much every time I make a mistake, in fact! But we have to be more responsible about our mistakes. They are simply mistakes, and, even when they are huge, life will go on. There is a great amount of power to simply saying, "I made a mistake, and I apologize. What can I do to fix it?" Sometimes there won't be anything you can do, but you took responsibility for it and can let it go rather than continuing to beat yourself up over it.
Beating yourself up over a human mistake is not being responsible. Allowing yourself room to make a mistake (do you honestly think you're perfect?) and then acknowledging the error and correcting it if possible (and learning from it) is the responsible way to go. And it's much kinder on your soul!
There are a lot of guided meditations on youtube and other online sites, or you can simply go to your favorite place, inside or outside, and focus on your breathing. Meditation calms the spirit and centers the mind so that you can be more focused and mindful of the world and its creatures.
This is an excellent way to revitalize yourself following a long day or to gather your thoughts for the day ahead of you. Allowing yourself this space is an incredibly kind way to treat your spirit.
Do something active.
I'm not saying you have to run a marathon, but it is good to be active for 30 minutes a day. Take a nice walk and enjoy the sunshine on your skin. Do some yoga. Play with your dog. Having some kind of activity that you truly enjoy doing that engages both your mind and body is another great way of gaining focus and really balancing your energy. Activity helps our energy flow throughout our bodies rather than being stagnant, and it changes how we feel about ourselves and carry ourselves.
Again, be active in a way that works for you. Whether it's running a 10K or going shopping with a friend, treating your body with respect does wonders for the spirit.
Be mindful of the negative tapes.
Watch out for thoughts like:
I can't. (What you really mean is, you won't.)
He/she doesn't like me. (So what? That's on them for being negative, and it's not up to you to try to change their mind.)
I'm going to fail. (If you think that way, yeah, you are.)
These are just three rather tongue-in-cheek examples, but you get the point.
The words we tell ourselves, the very thoughts inside our heads, are very powerful. Challenge yourself to be gentler and more patient with yourself. When you hear those negative tapes starting to play, hit "pause" and rethink them in a more positive way. It's difficult, and you will likely never turn them completely off. But, learning to rethink those tapes is a critical part of being kind to yourself.
And yes, you do deserve it.
How energy works
Some of you know I work with energy and our balance with nature. Energy is fairly straightforward: You will get out of your body, mind, and spirit what you put into it. Think of needing to fuel yourself the same way you would fuel your car. Activity wards off stagnation. Healthy food (and absolutely an occasional delicious treat-- all things in moderation!) and water cleanse you. Spiritual practices like yoga and meditation-- or working with crystals if that's your thing, or going to church/mosque/synagogue, if you choose-- will help center and ground your energy.
Energy should flow freely throughout your body. It's not natural to have energy pooled or even "bleeding" from a certain spot in your body. I work with a lot of people who have bleeds around their solar plexus-- the spot right below your ribs and above your navel, which is your center of personal power. These bleeds, or bleeds/blockages around the heart, often mean that you are not being kind to yourself. For instance, you may be giving too much of your energy to other people and not balancing it with loving-kindness toward yourself. You can fix this through careful cleansing and using some of the practices I've described above and thinking, "balance."
Lovingkindness may sound like a cheesy New Age concept, but really it's deep-rooted in each of us. It means the love we have, at our core, for the other living creatures on our planet, and, if you are so inclined, for every object, animate or inanimate, that exists. All things have energy, and we are all bonded through this energy, as it flows through all of us. Thus, when we are sending loving thoughts to others or to the world, we are sending them to ourselves. And when we are sending loving thoughts to ourselves, we are sending them to the world. This living energy makes us all symbiotic.
You can do this by closing your eyes and thinking of the blessings you receive (for example, the warmth of the sun, or the glow of the moon on a dark night, or the support of a friend or relative). Then, with your heart full of gratitude and love, you can wish love and blessings upon others and the world. Remember to start with yourself.
What do YOU do to be kind to yourself?
Let's make a convenient list of things we can do! What works for you? What would you recommend to others? It's your turn!
I'm Jaimie, but my friends in "real life" and online call me Jade.
I'm a Ph.D. student in Public Health. That takes a lot of my time, but in my free time I enjoy creating art and spending time with friends and family. My best friend is a golden retriever; my two-legged best friend is amazing, too.
When I can find the time, I enjoy photomanipulation and dabble in painting with acrylics. My favorite styles of photomanipulation are fantasy and emotional, but I love all art that is done creatively and with heart. My personal favorites are the color red and anything Halloween-related.