By Denee Jordan
‘Already Well’ is a simple, yet profound perspective on wellness that says that by developing respect and compassion for ourselves, exactly as we are, our Spirit will naturally emerge to manage our lives and make contentment, healing, and prosperity possible. Our self-acceptance is the precursor to our success.
It is natural and normal to want to improve ourselves; to become more successful, healthier, happier, richer, smarter, more attractive, and so forth. Though different people and different cultures define ‘success’ differently, what lies behind the desire to be successful is the same for all of us; our drive to survive and thrive. As Human Beings we all desire three things: to feel safe, valuable and connected. This concept may sound simple enough, but it is actually the key to humanity’s evolution or destruction. Depending upon how we choose to feel safe, valuable and connected, this underlying desire can be at the root of the most heinous war, or the root of the noblest human activity.
In our present society, many of us try to achieve ‘safe’ using defensiveness, worry and fear. We try to feel ‘valuable’ using relentless self-scrutiny. We try to feel ‘connected’ with constant striving, comparing, and competing …..and we fight for all of it….creating a society prevalent with depression, anxiety and disease. Today it is estimated that there are over 15 million Americans diagnosed with depression. That is heartbreaking considering our spirits’ natural capacity to love.
‘Already Well’ says that there are three false belief systems that we are operating on that are preventing us from finding the healing and happiness were deserve. They are as follows:
1.) We don’t have enough, need to get more, and when we do, we will be successful and content.
2.) We need to fight for what we want, or we will never get it.
3.) We need to fight for what we have, or we will lose it.
‘Already Well’ challenges the validity of these beliefs. Such beliefs are based in fear and perpetuate our problems. When we never have enough and need to fight to acquire and maintain more, it creates a vicious cycle that cannot be broken without a new perspective. It is the fighting that actually prevents us from feeling safe, valuable and connected.
Some people say that humans are born to fight. This is true in part, but we are also born to love and consciously evolve. We are a magnificent blend of mammal and Spirit. One survives; the other thrives. Survival involves contracted energy, or negativity. Thriving involves expanded energy, or positivity. They are both necessary to live here on the planet Earth. ‘Already Well’ says we need to balance our need to ‘survive’ and ‘thrive’ by making peace with ourselves, as we are, before we are able to make any other ‘improvements’ to our lives. It is essentially learning to lovingly tame our mammal self to allow our Spirit self to lead.
How do we do this? How do we find the ‘enoughness’ in our lives as they are? How do we find self-acceptance when we have been unsuccessful or made mistakes? How can we get in touch with our Spirit and accept our lives, in their entirety, with compassion?
‘Already Well’ utilizes 4 steps:
Start by giving yourself the credit you deserve just for living. Look back on your life and identify all of the time and energy you have spent struggling, loving, hurting, healing, suffering, discovering, working, succeeding, failing, feeling frustration, joy and disappointment in order to be alive in the present moment. It is no small feat to be a surviving Human Being in our present society! In fact, it is amazing!
Recognize all of the effort you have put into living your life and what you have learned along the way. Nobody but you knows what your experience has been! Notice that there is no mention of just learning from the ‘good’ parts of your life. All of your life has had value! Let’s use obesity as an example. ‘Already Well’ encourages the overweight client to add up the pounds she has lost and gained, the money she has spent on weight-loss treatments, the time she has spent worrying and feeling isolated and depressed and turn that focus on praising herself by saying, “Wow! You are amazing! It is wonderful that you can invest all of that emotion, energy, and time into trying to feel better! You actually have demonstrated tremendous ability!” The only thing missing for this woman is self-respect and acceptance. She has already demonstrated the ability to do the work! Remember, self-respect precedes success!
Already Well’ says that we must look at our lives in the present moment and know we have done the best that we have learned how to do and give ourselves credit for our efforts, without exception. People might say, “Yes, but I know better.” ‘Already Well’ says, knowing is not enough, we only do what we have learned. If we had learned better, we would have done better. We need to be honest about who we are and accept ourselves as completely as possible, including the things we think are ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. It is more than self-forgiveness. It is a compassionate acknowledgement of the value of your life. People might say, “That’s crazy! If I accept myself, nothing will change.” Though it may seem counterintuitive, self-acceptance paves the way for positive change. Self-acceptance is not a judgment that everything is the way you want it; it is a decision to accept and honor yourself as you are, so that you can move forward positively!
4.) EMBRACING SPIRIT
When we make peace with ourselves as we are, we naturally, progressively become aware of our Spirit. Our Spirit is our core, the ‘thriving’ part of us; the part of us that is central to our really feeling safe, valuable and connected. There are many different names for our Spirit, but however we choose to address it, essentially our Spirit comes alive when we stop fighting with ourselves. We don’t have to go looking for it, because it is always with us. We often just can’t hear it with all the battle sounds ringing in our ears. The question is…how can we hear it better? Practice. Practice makes progress; Practice mindfully watching ourselves, consciously understanding and honoring ourselves as we are. Our behavior, thoughts and feelings are all part of our Human Nature and they will actually improve as we watch ourselves respectfully. A specific ‘Practice Plan’ includes focusing time on and engaging in personal activities that encourage self-acceptance and self-compassion (i.e. listening for negative self-talk and gently correcting it, holding our boundaries with other people, risking feeling uncomfortable, recognizing our limitations without shame, trying new things, etc.) Our Spirit knows how to take good care of us. Trust in that.
‘Already Well’ says that finding ’success’ doesn’t involve changing anything in your life right this minute. It teaches us to understand that all of our actions, feelings, thoughts and behaviors are rooted in our human instinct to survive and thrive, regardless of what we have or haven’t done. When we can accept this with self-respect and compassion, our Spirit naturally emerges to take care of our lives. When we recognize our total magnificence in the present moment without changing a thing, we liberate ourselves to heal, learn, prosper and succeed in all of the ways we dream possible.
– Denee Jordan, PSY.D is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist and the founder of Already Well.