Tag Archives: health

Self-Love: A Cliché? Or the Key to the Universe?

Tina Turner might have been speaking about the confusion love creates when falling for another, but love baffles even more people when they think about showing love to themselves. Admit it… can you even say to yourself that you love “you”?

I had an epiphany not too long ago. It seems silly to think that after almost twenty-eight years of providing mental health services that this notion only just recently arrived in my brain. I’ve spent countless hours talking to people about their chronic depression or anxiety, their ongoing and repeated bad (and sometimes abusive) relationships, their horrible self-esteem, their exhausting obsessive thoughts, their crippling body-image issues or concerns with over- or binge-eating, their immobilizing lack of assertiveness, their shattering hurt feelings, their relentless old habits, and so on. Whatever “broke” their spirit and souls, I was committed to helping them reclaim their lives. Throughout all of this work, if asked, I couldn’t even count the number of times I spoke to someone about self-love, itself.

My recent “ah ha” moment stopped me dead in my tracks. It dawned on me that every single concern or challenge a person struggles with throughout their experience of the human condition is related to a lack of self-love. And I mean EVERY single concern. Give that some thought…. What does everyone want most? To be loved and accepted. What do we lack the most within ourselves? Yep!… Love and acceptance.

marnws4After realizing this, I also realized that each emotional struggle or wound that exists stems directly from the fact that a person doesn’t love themselves. For over ten years, my mission has been to teach others about Soul Health, with the main concept pointing to our willingness to align the ten branches of the human condition with our souls in order to experience what I call “radiant living”. But can we really align our lives without self-love? Can we really sustain change and foster growth and evolution without accepting ourselves? The answer is a definitive “no”.

Research, in many ways, indicates that self-love enhances our overall health. Not only do studies show that self-acceptance improves satisfaction with life, they also show that self-compassion provides the motivation we need in order to change our lifestyle and maintain healthy behaviors such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and even success with smoking cessation. Other research indicates that self-compassion and acceptance reduces stress and can prevent procrastination because it helps us recognize the downside of an unhealthy behavior before we engage in something we might regret.

A study in the journal of Psychological Science confirmed that self-love can also help us to deal with adversity, showing that divorced individuals who spoke compassionately toward themselves were more able to recover from the separation than those who spoke with self-criticism. Reading this research and pondering my work with clients helped me refocus on the importance of self-love as a person evolves.  But an even bigger awareness shifted my approach to both working with clients and working my way through my own concerns within the human condition. Humor me for a moment….

Why do we repeat old patterns? Because we haven’t evolved beyond them. Why haven’t we evolved beyond them? Because we haven’t learned to—or are willing to love ourselves enough to do so. So, if you wonder why your life is in a vicious and unhealthy cycle, perhaps it is time to work on self-love.
For those who believe in reincarnation—the rebirth of a soul in a new body for the purpose of evolution—the concept of self-love also answers why our soul comes back for another round. You might want to consider your unfinished business or karma as a sign that your soul is missing out on a little (or a lot) of self-compassion. If we repeat old patterns because of a lack of self-love, it makes sense that on a bigger scale, we also repeat lives because we haven’t figured out that love has something to do with it… self-love, that is.

For you Beatles fans out there, I’m sorry to say that they forgot a verse to their song, “All You Need is Love”. The remake will have to include the key to the Universe—that self-love is the answer to all of life’s challenges. If you want to evolve beyond your old stuff, then get to work on loving yourself at least a little bit more today.

For more information about self-love, check out this article from Spirituality and Health Magazine, titled “Five Self-Love Exercises”.

Guilt: The Ultimate Betrayal of Your Soul

“Guilt is to the spirit what pain is to the body.”
~~  Elder David A. Bednar

maynews1Guilt….  Who doesn’t have it? Even my young dog appears to feel guilty when she has done something that she knows is against the canine rules. But in truth, she’s just being herself—a dog. So, although I need to scold her at times for her safety, it is difficult to stay upset with her for long.

Soul Health is all about “aligning with spirit for radiant living”. In other words, it is about living a life that fully aligns with who you are, your values, and what is best for your overall health. But so many people live under a shroud of guilt that it makes it impossible to live completely in their truth as well. This only mis-aligns them in their experience of life and often causes them to act in other ways that don’t line up for their optimal health.

Take, for example, the common challenge of emotional eating. Many people use comfort foods to “eat away their hurt, frustrations, and anger” instead of speaking their truth, asserting themselves to meet their needs, or setting boundaries that will assure their own self-care. Then, because they already feel misaligned, they seek comfort in foods that will take them even further away from a sense of peace, despite the fact that their initial thought was to lessen their discomfort. I see this cycle almost daily in my therapy practice.

According to the dictionary, guilt is defined as maynews2“Having committed an implied offense”. Take a minute to think about this…. Is it really an offense if you live in your truth? Does saying “no” imply that you’ve committed a crime? Are you wrong for wanting to create a life that is aligned with your values and needs? How much time do you spend thinking about how your behavior would impact others rather than simply choosing what is right for you?

Allowing yourself to feel guilty is the ultimate betrayal of your soul. When we agree to do something that we don’t want to do, or feel guilty for attempting to take care of our needs, our soul aches. These soul wounds can accumulate to a point that guilt runs our lives. Instead of allowing your innermost ally to lead the way, you are essentially choosing to mis-align yourself, and thus, choosing to lead anything but a radiant life.

maynews1Are you staying in a relationship out of guilt? Are you putting your needs aside for the sake of someone else’s? Are you afraid to say “no”? Do others intentionally attempt to make you feel guilty when they don’t get their way?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then perhaps it is time to assess how you might be choosing to mis-align your life by living through guilt. Your soul health is your responsibility and yours alone. If you stumble over the same guilt-related situation over and over again, your soul is likely trying to get your attention so that you can evolve beyond a perceived responsibility and move into a much more aligned and radiant life.

As Charlie Luken stated, “It is not about guilt or innocence. maynews4The point is, it is time to turn a page.” If you are committed to soul health, then, the time to outgrow guilt is now.

For more on how guilt betrays your soul, watch my You-Tube video: 

Social Health: Soul to Soul Relations

(Taken from Chapter 5 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth. ~~ George Bernard Shaw

09 Sept picHumans are pack animals—we are meant to be with people. No matter how “independent” we think we are, we still depend on those around us for at least some things, and we obviously wouldn’t have been brought into the world without the help of others. In most cases we could not survive, let alone thrive without the help of parents or other caregivers, teachers, friends, neighbors, pets, and others. What makes the world go around is our connection with others and the sense of community we receive through these interactions.

All of our relationships can have a direct impact on soul healthIf I were to guess, I’d say nearly 90 percent of people come to therapy because of their relationships with others in their lives. Depression, anxiety, grief, adjustment, low self-esteem, job stress, body image, weight-related concerns, physical injuries, traumatic events, anger management, abuse, and even some ongoing physical health concerns can be attributed to either present-day interactions with others or to the ideas, values, or beliefs we were taught as children.

The social branch of soul health encompasses all the relationships we have in our lives. This chapter discusses the many types of connections we have with other people, not only those close to us, but also others we may see less frequently—store clerks, dry cleaners, mail carriers, receptionists, pharmacists, manicurists, massage therapists, hair stylists, and even coffee baristas. Many people, including me, also consider pets and other animals to be significant contributors to our overall social health. No matter how connected we are to those who appear regularly in our lives, they are all part of our personal flock.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

Physical Health—From Basic Needs to Body Language

(Taken from Chapter 3 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

You don’t have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body.  ~ C.S. Lewis

07 July picHealth is a deeply personal thing. From the common cold to chronic illness, every physical ailment has an impact on how we experience the human condition. Any indication that we are not well threatens the quality or duration of our existence, and, more seriously, it affects the core of our being—our soul. Our health is multidimensional; it involves each and every aspect of our lives, which, cannot help but suffer along with the body. When we are ill, we often feel down emotionally. Our relationships suffer, and in some cases we lose them. Our jobs may be jeopardized, we neglect our surroundings, struggle to find or maintain inner peace (which may go out the window altogether), lose sexual interest, perhaps lose money as well, and certainly are not in the right frame of mind for good fun and leisure.

In 1955, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest and philosopher, wrote in Le Phénomène Humain (The Human Phenomenon) that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” And there is nothing more human than our physical bodies. They may be finished evolving, but they are necessary to the soul’s continued evolution.

People spend an inordinate amount of money each year not only on health and physical fitness products, but on beauty products as well, which demonstrates the value they place on the state and appearance of their bodies. However, this focus on the physical body often ignores other aspects of overall well-being. This chapter explains the complex effects that our physical health can have on all branches of our vitality and illustrates how our body’s health reflects the health of our soul.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

Sacred Finance

(Taken from Chapter 9 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Man cannot be satisfied by wealth. ~~ Katha Upanishad

There is nothing sacred about money itself—sacredness lies in the meaning we ascribe to it. Often it is in having less, not more, that we build the platform on which our souls can grow.

08 Aug picIn his book , Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein outlines the history of money as well as the influence money has had on our overall sense of separation from ourselves, each other, and the world at large. Eisenstein writes about how communities of the world have become fractured by getting lost in concepts of money, and points out how money, rather than an inner life, has become the focal point for most people. He emphasizes that both the meaning and power of money have morphed into ends in their own right rather than the means of supplementing growth and consciousness.

Another author, Lynne Twist, provides a philosophical view of money through the eyes of both the rich and the poor. Her book, The Soul of Money, offers a broad view concerning ideas about scarcity, prosperity, abundance, and success. She interviews everyone from Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to aiding the poor,  to others who are vastly wealthy. In her work as a global fundraiser, she has woven her experiences into her writing and captured the essence of everyone’s longing for financial security.

Both books offer views that can be helpful in developing your own financial well-being and applying it to soul health.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

Joyful Soul

(Taken from Chapter 12 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

06 June picI have long lost track of how many people have entered my psychotherapy office bringing with them their sorrows, but leaving behind any sense of joy. They have lost their enjoyment and feel as if their zest for life has completely disappeared. When asked, few can say what used to make them smile, let alone remember the last time they really laughed. When I ask what they do for fun, the all-too-common answer is “nothing.” Certainly, when people are anxious, depressed, grief-stricken, stressed, or in any other state of turmoil, their experiences of joy are rare. But reacquainting with what brings them joy is guaranteed to free them from the gravity of any challenging circumstance or situation.

Our soul is nothing without joy. Without joy we are void of all light that reminds us why we live. In times when the human condition has us in its darkened grip, our experience of joy is less tangible, and so is our connection with our soul. We cannot see as clearly how to make decisions that suit our wisest ally, and we often go further off track rather than closer to our inner wisdom. Consequently, it’s not unusual for people who are distressed to report that they no longer know who they are, as their despair further disconnects them from their soul.

Our sense of joy—or lack of one—, thus, serves as another measure of our soul health. Our sense of joy is much like the pilot light for our inner ally—as long as it is lit we are still experiencing at least some pleasure in life and are able to tolerate the darker sides of the human condition. However, when that light is dim or snuffed out, nothing seems to matter—not even oneself. Therefore, awareness of what brings us joy is of utmost importance to our overall health. Essayist Logan Smith notes, “If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul.” Indeed, our souls do define us; and if we don’t listen to them, we will never find our way back home to this inner ally. More tragic is the risk of losing who we really are.

Joy stems both from the fun and leisure we create06 June pic2 in our lives and from the meaning we place on the activities we choose for recreation. Individual recreational needs may differ as widely as the people on the planet do. What we all have in common, though, is that fun and leisure not only buffers the unpleasant aspects of our human condition, but also fortifies or feeds the soul.

The recreational branch of soul health relates to both the fun and the leisure we allow, invite, or create in our lives. There is a difference between the two, though. We experience fun through “acting playfully”—reacting in a light-hearted, humorous, or jesting manner —at home, work, or social situations. Leisure time, however, allows us to find respite from our responsibilities—personal and professional—which usually represent the heavier aspects of our human condition. Both fun and leisure are necessary in fortifying our soul and promoting its evolution.

Unfortunately, most people don’t make or take time for fun and leisure. In a 2010 survey, an online travel agency found that only 38 percent of Americans use all of the vacation time they were allotted. This may not be surprising, given the standards for long hours of work in this country; however, the physical and emotional cost may outweigh the praise we get for the long hours worked. In fact, there is often a direct impact on physical health when people don’t take time to relax. One researcher found that people who don’t take time to slow down from daily life may find it harder to relax in the future since the neural pathways that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it increasingly more difficult to shift to less stressful states of being. This demonstrates that our bodies are indeed restored when we are at rest or at play—and that this is necessary in sustaining our well-being.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

 

Intellectual/Occupational Health: Conscious Cognitions

(Taken from Chapter 7 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

The soul becomes dyed by the color of its thoughts. ~~ Marcus Aurelius

05 May picThe human species is known for its brain. It is the central processing unit that most defines us as human, and yet it eludes its researchers’ full understanding. Scientists remain both baffled and amazed by not only its inherent capabilities, but also by its power of adaptation. Although some species exhibit certain levels of conscious thought, we hold the bar for advanced cognitive processing.

Our ability to think is essential in the work force. According to the American Time Use Survey, U.S. citizens spend more time working (8.6 hours) than they do sleeping (7.6 hours). Work occupies nearly 60 percent of our waking hours, though many spend much longer hours at their jobs. Clearly, if one is unsatisfied, overwhelmed, or simply bored with their work, their soul health will inevitably suffer.

Life presents many other opportunities to think, solve problems, and reflect on ideas, actions, and beliefs. Students, retired people, stay-at-home parents, avid readers, volunteers, and those who explore creative or artistic talents also pursue mentally stimulating activities to enhance soul health.

Our intellectual and occupational health includes our pursuit of creating and maintaining an intellectually stimulating life— it is our human quest for knowledge and skill. Although for many this does, in fact, include a job or career, this branch of health also describes our ability to develop or maintain a strong cognitive capacity. Our intellectual health depends on mental stimulation, a curiosity and drive to learn, a willingness and ability to engage in effective and conscious thought processing, intellectual clarity and adaptability, the insight necessary to integrate our perceptions of the world, the assimilation of new concepts, exercise and maintenance of memory, and the ability to reason between right and wrong. Simply put, whether we are mentally over-stimulated or bored to tears, our level of intellectual health can affect our overall experience of soul health.

What do you do to enhance your cognitive abilities? 05 May pic2What keeps you sharp? What challenges your brain? What dulls it? When are you the most curious or interested in something? When are you the most bored? What helps you to think clearly? And what serves to distract you? How does creativity affect your life?

While knowledge is the ultimate human quest, we must also remember that knowledge also allows our souls to evolve. As we expand our minds-learn and grow as human beings- our souls expand as well. This is especially true within the context of consciousness—and even more so when we become “radical” in its pursuit. Those who become increasingly conscious about how they are living their lives open themselves to the greatest opportunities for evolution. This 3-D method of living— the ability to recognize a depth of meaning beyond what is right in front of you — allows the human condition to become our classroom.  In other words, we can learn to be more conscious about how we can best learn! Thus, our soul’s quest for growth depends greatly on how we consciously use our brains to evolve.

For more information, take a look at my recent video which shares more about the importance of “conscious cognitions”.  https://youtu.be/T2wJZpKKmOE