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"All humans seek the illusive touch of another's Soul, which opens us to the sense of belonging to something bigger than the self. Dr. Kortsch has given us the true "tao" of relationship in this brilliant exploration of emotional tapestry. We will be grateful for this illumination of spiritual partnership for generations to come." Chris Griscom, Spiritual Leader, Author

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Soothing Yourself


Self-soothing is a topic I've covered extensively in my books, in particular in Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self because if you have not learned how to soothe yourself in a healthy way when bad stuff happens - as it invariably does - you may clutch whatever is close to you - and it may not be a healthy choice - in order to soothe yourself.

Babies are frequently given pacifiers to suck on as they presumably connect in the baby's brain to the delights and soothing presence of mother's breast and the warm milk it offers. We understand such self-soothing.

But let's look at a four-year-old who never got into the habit of having a pacifier, who now finds himself in a difficult playground situation at his pre-school. The teacher hasn't noticed, his mother isn't around to give him a quick hug, and what he now does will depend on numerous factors, including what he has learned (and observed) at home, his own particular character, and of course, the specific circumstances. So let's say he wanders off to sit in a corner and cry. It may help him feel a bit comforted, but it might not be his best alternative. Or he may smack the other child. Again, he may feel better, but this alternative is also not optimal. Perhaps there are some cookies available to the children after the playground activities and so he sidles into the room where they are normally found and helps himself to a handful. Again, he feels comforted, but this may also not be he best alternative. Another option is to go to the teacher and lay his burden into her adult arms. This may meet with varying results, hopefully he will feel soothed, but it might also not be optimal.

Let's fast forward. Our little person is now a grown woman in her 20's. Let's imagine a scenario that would require some self-soothing. Perhaps there has been an altercation at the office with a colleague or superior, perhaps there is a disappointment in some personal situation that our young woman heard about over the phone while at work. What are some self-soothing mechanisms that might spring into place? One woman might go talk about it with a friend at work, or on the phone, another woman might use lunch to do some retail therapy, another one might leave, go home and hide under the covers, another might take a tranquilizer while still at work, another one might wait until after work to have a good number of glasses of wine at her favorite Happy Hour place, and another might make an appointment with her therapist. Not all of these self-soothing mechanisms are optimal, although clearly some are healthier than others.

What should a healthy self-soothing mechanism do for us? Part of it is that we find a way to feel better, or more in control, or less shaky - less affected by the event. We might put it another way and say that it should offer us a way to find some inner calm, peace, and equilibrium, where we ourselves are the motor that puts this into place.

How can we get there? You must pay close attention (part of being aware and mindful) to your self-dialogue, because it is there that much of your lack of self-soothing lies. If you don't begin to speak differently to yourself when something less than good occurs, you will forever walk down paths of unhealthy self-soothing. Changing the inner dialogue is very much like changing channels on your TV. You consciously decide to focus elsewhere, or to tell yourself what is happening in a different way. For this to work, it is paramount to practice being aware - practice mindfulness as I so very often recommend on this (and my other) blog. Practice loving yourself (I wrote a whole book about this The Power of Your Heart: Loving the Self), because the more you love yourself, the more you will automatically do all of these things. This - as so much else - is your choice. Choose well.

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Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books. My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is now also out globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch


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