We are a social species, and we can be strongly influenced by the feedback we get from others around us – oftentimes internalizing feelings that really are all about them, not us. If your self-study brings you to realize that you need to clear out old habits of thoughts, reactions, or behavior, this book has many helpful exercises. In Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame, Beverly Engel discusses the root of many problems as well as how to process them. Sometimes we have to face where we are and rebuild the ego before we can transcend it. This book is very empowering and helpful, for counselors, future parents, and anyone not feeling quite whole. Even if you don’t think you had an “abusive” childhood, you can probably benefit from some of the exercises.
Lessons for Yogis:
1) When you stop and do a body scan, where do you feel tension? Where do you feel numbness? Engel explains: “Your body is a wealth of information. It holds the memory of trauma long forgotten that is nevertheless still affecting you. It can tell you how you are feeling and what you need at any particular time.” A good thing to add to your body scan might be to ask places of numbness or pain: “If these parts could speak, what would they say? What would they tell you they need?”
2) As you tune in to your breathing, can you sense an emotion? Engel suggests another exercise in which we learn from our bodies: “Identify the emotion your breath is expressing – anxiety, relaxation, irritation, fear.”
3) A big step for resolving shame is to “Expect others to accept you as you are. Surround yourself with people who like and accept you just as you are, as opposed to people who are critical, judgmental, perfectionistic, or otherwise shaming… When someone does something nice for you or says something nice about you, take a deep breath and let in the good feelings.” Ideally, a yoga class can be such an environment, but be mindful of the way those around you behave.
This is great as an audiobook – and to be able to reread the exercises, I have a hard copy as well. You can also get yourself a a second-hand paperback or tree-free kindle edition if you’d like to work through it, too!