The self is the self-concept we have about ourselves, how we think we are, and of course it is highly related not only to our state of mind but to our mental health.
We do many different things oriented to balance or to "take care" of that self. Even the model of Professor Richard Bentall calls attention to and proves that implicit self-esteem has also been identified as a process that can help us to better understand persecutory delusions, that is, paranoia, the most common symptom of several mental illnesses (Bentall et al. Al., 2008; Fowler et al., 2006).
Bentall et al. (2001) argues that patients with paranoia try to avoid negative beliefs about themselves assuming that failures in their life are intentionally caused by the actions of other people, thus calling this model the bias-self-reliant model.
So probably many of us have in mind a large number of behaviours we do or thoughts oriented to take care of that "self." These messages that we send may have a positive effect on our lives or not so much.
For example, if we want to take care of the feeling of failure we tend to blame others, luck or context, something similar happens with all typical behaviours of jealousy, unconscious eating, and negative relationships with others ...they try to calm us down and give us the feeling of control in the short term despite hurting us in the long term, that is, in our authentic life.
So ... how can we take care of that self? How can we improve it, strengthen it and make more positive?
The 3 steps of Mindfulness may be able to help us with this:
1.Cultivate awareness and the ability to be in the present moment.
Obviously we all know where we are physically and temporarily, but how many times have we lived in our thoughts instead of in the present moment? How many times have we "disconnected" from what is happening in the here and now to be focused on a concern about the past or the future?
MINDFULNESSS is nothing more than to cultivate the capacity to live in the here and now, becoming aware of everything that comes into my head to "boycott" that presence, to recognize those thoughts and emotions and from the acceptance and kindness (since every human is distracted by worries about the past or the future) and finally to bring attention back to that present moment, whatever it may be, without judging.
We have already recognized the thoughts that come to our mind to take us out of the present moment and we are also aware of their nature, especially when they are difficult and painful thoughts and emotions.
We must take care of those difficult emotions, because when we take care of them we take care of ourselves, but not from a paternalistic point of view, as Kristin Neff (one of the creators of the program Mindfulness Self Compassion) says. Self-Compassion is not victimism and is not Self-indulgence because the goal is totally contrary to fusing with negative emotion or behaving like Bridget Jones: "I'm having a bad time so I'm going to sit on the couch all day to watch sad movies and eat ice cream." It is not that ... the objective sought is to speak to ourselves well, to take care of ourselves and from there to promote long term well-being.
Sometimes we believe that by sending ourselves hard and aggressive messages we will motivate ourselves, but really the only purpose they serve is to increase those negative and unpleasant feelings.
3. Loving-Kindness (to others)
When we are able to live in the present moment and accept our emotions and thoughts and we learn not to change them but to change our relationship with them, then we can do the same to other people; we are able to accept defects, control impatience, control the feedback and fully enjoy the company of others, taking also towards them an attitude of affection, kindness and care.
Barbara Fredickson, one of the most influential psychologists (Forbes), shows in her studies that cultivating this capacity for love and kindness toward others increases different health markers, even associated with longevity (Fredickson, 2015).
So ... be ready to be present, to be kind to yourself and to other people and you will live MORE AND BETTER!
If you are interested in joining one of our Mindfulness groups, contact us!