The Shrink and the Pundit is an ongoing discussion between Jeff and his longtime friend, Dr. Keith Witt, a leading Integral psychotherapist.
In this podcast they explore the topic of self-love. Dr. Keith traces the relationship that each of us has with our own “self-sense” from birth (actually gestation), when we fall from the paradise of the womb to begin the process of growth into ever new worlds of conditional love. That pattern continues until we reach higher stages of development, where a more integrated sense of self is able to love what has previously been in shadow.
Dr. Keith presents practical ideas on how to become more aware of self-defeating patterns of thought and behavior, and how to transmute them into a loving self-acceptance that can elevate you as well as the people around you. A father of two himself, Dr. Keith shares specific insights into ways to support a loving sense of self in the children in your life.
Later in the podcast, Dr. Keith leads Jeff in a simple yet powerful exercise designed to develop one’s capacity for self-love. Here it is so you can try it too:
While attending to the sensation in your chest area, ask yourself the question, “At this moment am I willing to love and accept myself no matter what?”
If you feel a pleasurable relaxation in your chest, the answer is probably, “Yes, at this moment I am willing to love and accept myself no matter what.” Enjoy this moment of self-acceptance.
If you feel an uncomfortable tightening or constriction in your chest area as you ask, “At this moment am I willing to love and accept myself no matter what?” the answer is probably, “No, at this moment I am not willing to love and accept myself no matter what.”
If your answer is, “No,” ask yourself, “Why not?” and answer the question of why you are not willing to love and accept yourself at this moment no matter what. The answer doesn’t have to be rational. It can be, “Because I don’t deserve it,” or “Because I don’t know how to love and accept myself,” or “Because I’m not a nice person,” or, “I eat too much sugar,” or, “Because I forgot to feed my dog today.” Don’t dispute or indulge the answer, just observe it with interest.
After you answer the “Why not?” question, ask yourself again, “At this moment am I willing to love and accept myself no matter what?” while paying attention to your chest area. Does your chest get tighter or looser? Observe any shifts with interest.
Practice this sequence five times a day for a month. You’ll notice your chest getting looser after you answer the “Why not?” question. You’ll also probably more frequently answer, “Yes,” to the “At this moment am I willing…” question.
If you practice this exercise consistently, over time you’ll program, “Yes, I am willing to love and accept myself at this moment no matter what,” deeper and deeper into your adaptive unconscious. This is one way of growing your capacity for self-love.