Last month we noted the importance of caring for and regulating our inner states by “going in” as well as being willing and able to reach out to those with whom we have healthy attachments and bonds by “going out.” As we approach the new year, and its forthcoming intentions and aspirations, let’s use the season’s chilly mornings and evenings spent indoors as opportunities to reflect deeper into our capacity to utilize the practice of “going in” and compassionately care for ourselves when we are struggling.
It is common to have an underdeveloped skill set related to self-regulation or interpersonal-based regulation.
We gravitate toward what is familiar and to what has proven to be safe and reliable in the past. Self-regulation through “going in” may come naturally to some of us, or we may have built a skillset for it through learned contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, or other cognitive, emotional, or body-based techniques. However, many of us have not had the experience of our minds and bodies as being sources of refuge, or as allies. With their collection of overwhelming thoughts, emotions, and sensations, at times it can feel like our minds and bodies are actually working against us in an effort to derail any sense of presence and calm. It can feel intimidating to take even a brief pause in our inner world when we are in distress, let alone trust that we can create a reliable friendship with ourselves that is safe, dependable, and supportive.
The greatest obstacles to “going in” are our underlying fears of ourselves.
These fears are of what we might find or have to face if we take the time to be in a relationship with the worries of our thinking-mind and the vibrations running through our nervous systems’ body-mind. It takes a leap of faith when we are feeling depressed, activated, or anxious to let our awareness come home internally and develop strategies for soothing the wounds we carry – whether they may be shallow and new, or deep and old.
In my psychotherapy practice, I have the honor of being a part of peoples’ realization that they can learn, through practice, how to become a source of regulation and healing for themselves. By developing a healthy, compassionate, and responsive relationship with themselves, they not only create a friendship that is inherently reliable due to its proximity but further supports their capacity to foster healthy and dependable relationships with others. Through learning how to “go in” and attune to our inner world, identifying its current state, and skillfully responding to it in order to bring down the activation that clouds our perception, we are able to be better partners, parents, coworkers, and friends.
By being present and compassionate with ourselves, we are more equipped to be present and compassionate with others.
May our reflections and explorations related to strengthening our practice of “going in” help us close the year with greater wisdom and compassion for ourselves than ever before, allowing further opening up to the world around us and the people we hold dear. We can then look forward to starting 2018 with an increased sense of resourcefulness inside ourselves, as we approach the focus of our next installment of this series, “going out”. Together, and only together, can our practices of “going in” and “going out” lead us to sense of wholeness, and a complete system of care for our optimal mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.