That got your attention, huh?
Well, this article is about self-touch, but not the kind you’re thinking about ;).
Every once and awhile, I talk about the importance of self-compassion. Well … ok … maybe like every single day … like here and here and here. But that’s because I know how incredibly important it is….so there’s just no such thing as over-stressing this crucial practical.
When it comes to handling our most difficult emotions – like shame, guilt, anxiety and depression, self-compassion is the most critical skill.
Self-compassion is a signal to your mind, body and soul that you’re willing to forgive yourself, and to recommit to integrity and alignment with your heart.
Self-compassion helps us accept that we’re going to fall down a few times while we’re on the healing journey. And when we know that it’s OK to fall down, it so much easier to get back up and move forward.
It also lets us relax, so that we can more easily tap into and transform those painful feelings.
But despite all its benefits, actually practicing self-compassion is easier said than done, right? A lot of us believe we need to be punished. We beat ourselves up and think that’s what we have to do to stay motivated, to move forward and get better.
But that’s not true. Self flagellation just exhausts us and makes us scared to try again, because we’re afraid of making another mistake and having to hear those negative thoughts again in our mind.
Our minds get wrapped up in replaying that same old story of inadequacy that tends to play on constant loop in our heads. So much so that we can’t even think of a single nice thing to say to ourselves.
Well, I’ve got good news. There’s a hack for that. And here it is …
Showing yourself self-compassion doesn’t have to involve words, a complicated meditation or an hour-long therapy session.
It can start with something much more simple. Like a gesture or a touch.
All We Need is Hugs
Think about it, when you were a kid and you were sad and all you wanted was to feel comforted … you didn’t crave the words of your grandmom. You wanted a great big hug from her. That’s what made you feel better. Her embrace. Her loving smile. Holding her hand. Crawling up into her lap and nestling into her chest. It’s the physical embodiment of compassion that really makes you feel nurtured and cared for.
That’s because those physical gestures, those moments of loving contact, actually change your biochemistry.
Physical touch releases oxytocin, reduces cortisol and calms cardiovascular stress. In other words … it calms anxiety and actives love. Your whole body relaxes and that lets your mind and body finally relax.
So, next time you’re feeling anxious or upset or self-critical … like you need a big hug … give yourself what you need. Don’t immediately stress about trying to change the words running through your head or avoiding negativity altogether (because external negativity isn’t going anywhere). Literally give yourself a hug (maybe duck into the bathroom first).
Or, give your arm a light, soothing rub. Or your hand a nice, loving squeeze … just like grandmom might have.
Do whatever it takes. Whatever feels good to you.
What’s important is that you make a physical gesture that clearly translates into feelings of love, care and tenderness for yourself.
Then, just marinate in the self-love! Feel the kindness, the warmth of your own higher self. Melt into that feeling of love.
Once you start feeling that oxytocin kick in, you’re in better position to start working on your mind. Now you’re ready to start changing those negative thoughts and transforming them into kind thoughts and memories of all the people that truly love you.
This ability to tap into our body’s self-healing system through physical gestures is truly a super-power … and it’s right at your very own fingertips!
Cheat Sheet: Beating Anxiety with Self-Talk
Are you hijacked by your anxiety? Constantly making mental lists of all the ways that you could fail – and all the things that might go wrong?
Use this Cheat Sheet to transform your negative thoughts into loving and constructive self-talk – so you can ditch your anxiety once and for all!