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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Resiliency: Rewiring the Brain from Self Harm to Kindness

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 16th 2010

flowerIn my experience working with many people, from the moment we wake up until the moment we put our head back down on that same pillow, there is a true lack of kindness toward ourselves day in and day out. On top of it, there is an imbalance of self harm that we engage with. Why is this and what can we do about it to rewire our brains for resiliency, health and well-being?

Many of us hold this deeply held belief in an inherent unworthiness that may have stemmed from a difficult childhood, past abuse, racism, sexism, or any of the anti-isms. Somewhere along the way we come to understand that we are just not good enough. This is reinforced in all the media letting us know that in order to feel "good" we need the next hottest item, to slim down to a certain level, or this sleek new car. Otherwise, we should feel deficient in some way.

So, these thoughts that get fed from our past and from our current environments filter through out head during the day. I was sitting with a client the other day and she used a term that I really like, when negative self talk bombards her mind she notices that the "negative neurons" are firing. I thought that was a pretty clever way of getting some space from those thoughts so she could redirect her attention on something more important.

As it is, our brains have a negativity bias in order to keep us safe. This is already inherent without our difficult childhoods or the media telling us we're not good enough (unless we buy their next item).

So, in order to recalibrate or rebalance, in can be helpful to offer ourselves some kindness throughout the day or actively look for kindness in the world. We surely don't get a "fair and balanced" perspective from the news (like with sugar, watch your intake here).

In a past post I outlined a very brief lovingkindness practice that is worth checking out and experimenting with.

Or, you can find out way to bring kindness into your own life, maybe actively looking for things that you are doing or ways that you are being that you value. Or maybe looking around and seeing how others might be acting kindly in your environment (e.g., a smile or an intentional "thank you"), or looking at the kindness of nature as the flowers begin to bloom around us. These actions can literally rewire the brain to begin seeing more of this and then the spiral has a chance of going upward instead of downward.

Try these things out. Feel free to share your thoughts, stories and question below. When you interact there, others see it and it has an effect on them, creating a living wisdom for us all to benefit from

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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