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How To Not Beat Yourself Up (Part 1)

If you’ve ever been too hard on yourself, you’re not alone. When it comes to skin cancer, this can manifest as, “I shouldn’t have spent so much time in the sun,” “I should have worn sunscreen,” “I shouldn’t have taken that island vacation,” or something else in that vein.

Learning to let go

It would be helpful if we could make an observation, let it go, and use it is a blueprint for next time. But if we berate ourselves, it’s going to be bad for our general health and well being.

In a story on the topic in The New York Times, Dr. Richard Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “Self-criticism can take a toll on our minds and bodies. “It can lead to ruminative thoughts that interfere with our productivity, and it can impact our bodies by stimulating inflammatory mechanisms that lead to chronic illness and accelerate aging.”1

Calm can be only a few breaths away

Mindfulness meditation and lovingkindness meditation both use the breath as a way to keep the mind from racing. For mindfulness meditation, you just focus on your breath as a way to stay in the present. Lovingkindness meditation sounds fancy, but it is simply the practice of using your breath to cultivate compassion for yourself and others. Boiling it down further, you can think of Tinkerbell saying, “Think happy thoughts,” and then you can substitute “nice thoughts.”

Mindful meditation to relax

Here’s a definition of mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” according to a post on the website of The Foundation for a Mindful Society. 2

A Google search for “mindfulness meditation” leads to 129,000,000 results in .67 seconds, so if you want a guided meditation, it shouldn’t be hard to find one that you suits you. I bookmarked these two sites:

The UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center offers short meditations on its website. I looked there first because they are trusted in the field. You can do a breathing meditation for 5 minutes, or follow a complete guide for 19.

The website Fragrant Heart has many meditations led in a soothing voice by Elisabeth Blaikie, whose topics include relaxation, stress relief, healing, and self-esteem. They range from less than two minutes to more than 20.

People who meditate regularly say it becomes a habit, in the good sense of the word. I don’t do it all the time, but one of these days…

Next week: A look at lovingkindness meditation.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.