In anticipation of Miranda Kerr’s second book, Empower Yourself, I’m actively seeking the best practices to cultivate compassion and contentment.
At the first line of empowerment is a deep capacity to understand the world and our place and purpose in it.
I often break down in ways that most people who know me in real life would never imagine. Unless given work to do, fulfilling its tangible result, and going the extra miles, I feel useless most of the time.
“You haven’t done enough,” the voice curtails as I edit my writing pieces. “You can do better than that. You should’ve done that differently. Why can’t you be perfect?” Well, I am not God, for one, and two, I am merely a human being. It’s this persisting inadequacy I often succumb to that constant self-criticism ensues, which is natural because I hold that an excellent writer is someone who’s simultaneously a good listener, a fair editor, and a just reporter.
So often I, without realizing it, have one way or another been conditioned to reduce myself to believing in the illusion that I am powerless, when the root of the problem is precisely this underlying pattern of negative thinking that blinds me from the fact that every thought that gets digested through my head, as well as those that merely passed without my analysis, is all within my power.
Clearly, at the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.
In honor of one of Miranda’s many influencers, I want to share Deepak Chopra’s practical approach to cultivating self-compassion in life, which is one surefire way I’ve tried and tested to allow myself to feel empowered.
The mind-body guru, who recently co-authored with Harvard University neurologist Rudolph E. Tanzi on Super Brain: Unleash The Explosive Power Of Your Mind, asserts that there are five fundamental practices we can all exercise regularly to set our minds free from perceived limitations and preventing them from discouraging our self-esteem, as he has written in the February 2013 issue of Psychologies magazine:
1. INCREASE SELF-AWARENESS
I call this practice a “What would Jesus do?” moment.
Every time you to take yourself out of any context, whether from your environment or from other individuals when you’re in a group, you are increasing your capacity to recognize yourself as a separate entity, utilizing the power of observation without judgment, opening your eyes to neutral grounds in the situation you’re in, and gaining a whole new level of understanding of your own emotions, as well as your responses to different situations.
Increasing self-awareness is a practice that forces you to recognize that you are always responsible for your actions. As you increasingly perceive yourself independent of your subjective experiences, you will also conceive the quiet power to redirect your immediate thoughts and feelings to achieve desired results. In my case, it is turning self-criticism into a constructive one.
Chopra stated that both Tanzi and him have laid the groundwork of their book under the principle that “you are not your brain – you are the user of your brain.”
On a day-to-day basis, the stream of thoughts that go through your brain requires some serious filtering, lest the incessant stream runs your day and burns you out.
Instead, Chopra invites you to challenge every incoming thought and reflect upon it with the following questions: Why are you afraid of this? Is this true? What is this belief doing to me? Who would I be if I didn’t have this belief? What is the opposite of this experience?
This is where you put on God’s giant spectacles and observe what’s really going on.
When self-awareness is about recognizing your thought patterns, meditation is all about silencing your head and hitting the pause button for a moment – be it a 10-minute period or a single second.
Thanks to my Alkitabku app, I receive a daily devotional of Bible verses to meditate upon. On days that I keep my mind wide open to let in insights related to the verse, or chant the words from the verse repeatedly as I run, it becomes easier over time for me to secretly pray for myself and for others in my daily life without the need to do a yoga pose or take a timeout and sit down in some quiet space. Wherever you are physically, meditation allows you to relax, focus on your breath, and say a prayer simultaneously.
4. CONSCIOUS CHOICE-MAKING
When you have conditioned yourself to think outside the box and become the objective observer of your daily life, you would start to see that, with time, it gets easier to stop yourself from reacting to unpleasant situations and divert your immediate negative thought-pattern as quick as the flip of a switch. You realize that there are a sea of options for you to act for and against, by which, you can choose to erase completely out of your system or, better yet, adopt as your second nature.
Why not learn a good habit and incorporate it as your default mode? As motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said: Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
5. REALIZING THAT YOUR PERCEPTIONS OF THE WORLD ARE SHAPED BY YOURSELF AND YOUR BRAIN
In a perfect world, you are living in an environment that reinforces your strengths, and minimizes stressful conditions, and encourages personal growth.
But the truth remains that we cannot change anything but ourselves.
Chopra calls readers to remain aware and alert of the thoughts that knock on your head, as “most of us operate on autopilot, letting our brain lead us; we assume our brain is teaching us. The super brain, on the other hand, is what you create consciously, so you have more insight, intuition, creativity and choice.”
It’s a relief to be reminded that we all have the power to recognize, reflect, meditate, choose, and reshape every thought that enters our mind, and see how it all affects our treatment to ourselves and to others in our daily lives.
Now you tell me: What’s your take on feeling empowered?