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A Challenging Journey: From Mind Focus to Body Focus

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 28, 2019

Do you spend most of your time focused in your mind or your body? Are you staying in your mind as a way to avoid responsibility for your feelings?

Avoiding feelings"Breathe into your body and notice what you are feeling," I said to Bryan in our second phone session. "What are you feeling?"

"I feel bad and uncomfortable. I don't like focusing in my body."

"Where do you focus most of the time?"

"In my mind. I think about work all day and then the rest of the time I daydream or think of other things."

"So you do all you can to stay in your head and out of your body - right?"

"Right. It doesn't feel good in my body."

"Bryan, imagine that you always ignore your little daughter, and then when you finally do give her some attention, you find that she is upset with you for ignoring her all the time - and then you ignore her more because you don't want to know that she is upset with you for ignoring her so much."

"I would never do that with my daughter."

"But this is exactly what you are doing to your own inner child - your own feelings. You ignore your feelings. Your bad feelings are your inner child letting you know that you are abandoning him, and then you don't want to attend to your feelings because you don't want to know that you are feeling alone and empty inside as a result of your self-abandonment. Just as your actual daughter needs your love and attention, so does your inner child - which is your feeling self. As long as you choose to stay in your head rather than your body, you will continue to feel bad in your body."


How Are You Avoiding Your Feelings?

I find in my work with individuals and couples that most people have found many ways to not be present in their body. You may have learned to avoid your feelings when you were a child, because you had no way of dealing with pain. But now avoiding your feelings is actually the cause of most of your pain. Feelings of anxiety, depression, hurt, emptiness, aloneness, anger, guilt and shame are all being caused by what you are telling yourself - your false beliefs and self-judgments - and how you are treating yourself - ignoring your feelings and turning to various addictions instead.

Staying focused in your head instead of your heart and your gut is one of these addictive ways of abandoning yourself - along with substance and process addictions - such as TV, work and being on your smart phone – as well as making others responsible for your feelings.

When you are in your head, you are focused in your left-brain, which is where our programmed ego wounded self is. When you are in your left-brain, you are not present in the moment - not lovingly attending to your own feelings and needs. It is this lack of loving presence that creates the bad feelings in your body.


Inner Bonding to the Rescue!

"Bryan, please put your focus in your heart and breathe into your heart. Open to learning about what is loving to you and invite the presence of love and compassion into your heart. Imagine the feelings of love you have for your daughter, and bring those same feelings to the sad and alone little boy within you. Ask him how he feels about you as his inner parent."

"He is mad at me...he’s REALLY mad at me."

"Yes, which is why you are so often irritated and mad at others. You make others responsible for the aloneness and emptiness that you are causing."

"What should I do?"

"I suggest that you wear a rubber band to remind yourself to check inside throughout the day - and put sticky notes around and set an alert on your phone. You need to start to practice being lovingly present in your body, open to learning with your feelings. You need to recognize that your feelings are your inner guidance, letting you know when you are abandoning yourself or loving yourself. Are you willing to practice this?"


The more Bryan practiced Step 1 of Inner Bonding - being lovingly present with his feelings - the better he felt inside his body, and the more he was able to be loving with others as well.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.


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Daily Inspiration

We are all given free will. What does this mean? It does not mean that we can control others and the outcome of things. It means that we are free to choose our intention each moment. It means that if we choose the intention to avoid/control, we freely choose to behave in unloving ways to ourselves and others. It means if we choose the intention to learn about love, even in the face of fear, we freely choose to be loving to ourselves and others. Free will gives us the ability to choose our intention.


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