My friend came over the other day and started playfully teasing me about my Instagram stories. I laughed along until he said, "You're like a different person. That's not even who you are."
I was sick to my stomach. I felt judged, and it didn't feel good. No matter how much practice you get at self-love, every now and then a comment slips through the cracks and punctures that wound you worked so hard to heal.
For the next few hours my mind was playing on a loop: Why does he think he has a right to judge me? Did he ever stop to think that I just am who I am? Blah, blah, and more blah.
I wanted to prove that I am simply who I am. His perception of me was his problem, not mine. Except that by fixating on it, I was making it my problem.
Most of us fixate on things that feel bad. Our minds are wired for protection. When we get hurt, they tend to focus on the pain because we're trying to figure out how to avoid it in the future.
The emotions we don't or can't process get stored in the body. They create limiting beliefs—feelings of unworthiness or unlovability. When we don't feel whole, we seek approval outside ourselves. When we don't get that approval it hurts because it perpetuates our limiting beliefs.
These small criticisms used to sit with me for weeks, sometimes longer. I allowed them to validate the belief that I was unworthy of unconditional love, respect, and support. These days, I have learned to let those thoughts go. I'm no longer allowing someone else's thoughts or judgments to define who I am. It's something you can learn to do as well.
The first step is to become aware that your mind is validating a false belief. You're hurt because, on some level, you believe this criticism.
In my case, I was allowing someone else's opinion about me to validate the idea that there was something fundamentally wrong with me, that I'm unlovable.
Deep down, I believe I am a fraud. People don't get me. I am all alone. If I let myself continue to believe that, I'll be stuck forever. We'll usually just feel worse about ourselves or begin to overanalyze every situation.
The mind craves understanding, but it's not always necessary. It's so easy to get caught on that treadmill of self-doubt. Releasing the analytical mind is sometimes necessary in order to accept the greater truth.
I am lovable. We all are. I know I am worthy of love. We all are. These beliefs became a part of me when I didn't know any better, and now I do. I don't need to dwell on negative feelings. I don't need to analyze myself. I can do something radically simple to transform my state:
Let it go.
I know, I know—letting go can seem really abstract when you haven't practiced it. So, start by tuning into your feelings and acknowledging that they are pointing to a belief that is limiting your true nature.
Where attention goes, energy flows. Bringing attention to pain is how we allow our energy to move through it and release it. You might cry or laugh as the pain releases. Let yourself feel it all.
Next, shift your awareness to your essence—the part of yourself that is always whole just as you are. You can use your imagination to do this. Focus on your heart. Allow it to open. Imagine love growing within you. Imagine light emanating from deep within. Picture yourself completely perfect and completely free. Feel the truth within your body.
This is about shifting your energy and acknowledging the fundamental truth that you are not broken or less than or unworthy. You are perfect exactly as you are right now—no matter what that looks like.
This requires patience, practice, and deep attention. It's work. But once you can feel that shift, it's incredibly liberating. You begin to realize that you aren't a victim and that things that other people say about you don't have to define you. Your mind no longer compulsively focuses on the stories, and when you feel that loop starting to form, you are empowered to walk past it and connect to your deeper truth.
The beauty in healing work is that it's all within you. You have the ability to move through your pain, release it, and heal yourself. Just like the Good Witch said, "You've always had the power, my dear."