I can’t help but ask…have you done the mirror exercise I described in Chapter One of Enchanted One~ The Portal To Love? What did you experience when I asked you to look in the mirror for five minutes? This is an exercise in observing Self Love. (Please feel free to share your comments below.)
Vironika Tugaleva goes deep into the exploration of Self Love in her just released book, The Love Mindset. I am honored to be a part of her Virtual Book Tour and to share this interview with you. I am certain you will feel her work supports the message of unconditional Love in Enchanted One. If you are inspired by Vironika’s message you can get a free preview of The Love Mindset at TheLoveMindset.com.
Question: What is a love mindset and why is it important to have one?
Response: The love mindset is, quite simply, a state of mind where you can receive and give love freely, because you know you are love.
When you’ve got a love mindset, your mind is in complete alignment with your heart and soul. You’re able to be authentic, compassionate, and kind to others and, most importantly, to yourself. With the love mindset, you can heal and, finally, be happy.
It is important for every single person to have the love mindset, and in our culture right now it is needed more than ever. Our minds may have taken us to the moon and helped us build computers. We are all so intelligent, but we need more than just intelligence. When we survive only with the mind, we spend our lives worrying about whether we left the stove on and making to-do lists while making love.
Our minds have such an amazing capacity to be intelligent, but without the wisdom of love, they will only lead us into mental instability, shame, broken relationships, and violence. The love mindset helps you be both: intelligent and wise. It is not only important, it is crucial to our evolution and survival.
Question: You speak of going through a breakdown which was ultimately a breakthrough, can you share about that?
Response: Before I broke down, I ran myself into the ground. I hated myself, especially my body, with a burning passion. I knew nothing of acceptance and even less about love. I kept trying to make myself perfect so that I could, finally, accept myself. I kept trying to make the world around me perfect too. I would line up every set of rulers and judge each person’s tiny flaws. It was all in an attempt to get some control over the building hurricane of pain inside of me.
There came a point when I was unrecognizable to my family. In my search for perfection, I had tried to erase myself. Physically, every part of me was dyed, colored, altered somehow. Emotionally, I was numb. Mentally, I was always either in crisis or numbing my crisis with any addiction I could sustain.
One day, about two years ago, I finally broke down. A breakdown isn’t what everyone thinks. It’s not like a giant tantrum. It’s something quite simple – it’s a breaking down of all the complexities into their simplest form. And, so, my mind broke all of its complicated processes into one simple choice: change or die. I tried to leave. Believe me, I didn’t want to make that choice, but my mind gave me no choice to leave. I had to change or die.
I chose to change.
The next morning, I woke up a different person. I could no longer paint myself with makeup and I could no longer destroy my body with chemicals. It was almost as if I had surrendered to some deeper part of me and, from then on, I was no longer in control. My mind was no longer in control. My soul, my wisdom had come into the driver’s seat and, now, all I had to do was let go.
Question: What was it that finally helped you heal?
Response: Healing was difficult. Letting go wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. When I first saw myself in the mirror without makeup I thought “Wow, I really hate myself.”
For about two weeks after my breakdown, I would come in front of the mirror with my head down, relaxed, and prepare for the worst. I would look up into my own eyes, defenseless and open, and feel surging currents of hatred permeating my body. I would do this every day. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I knew I had to.
An important moment came about three weeks later. It started just as every day before. I came to the mirror, head down, and relaxed. I’d learned that the more I relaxed the sooner the waves of hatred would disappear. I took a deep breath and looked up into the eyes of the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I’d never seen anyone like her.
Then, I went out and I found that everyone else was like that too! All around me were beautiful, powerful, strong, brilliant people! I thought - what is happening and how can I have more of this?
It was exactly that question which led me to write The Love Mindset. I was trying to figure out what was going on. I discovered, in the end, that I was healing and I was healing with love. Then I discovered how love works and how to help others heal.
I think I heal more every day. I heal with every person that I work with who is in the same pain that I was in. Accepting their pain helps me accept the part of me that has felt that pain and, because of it, done some things I regret. Helping them heal helps me heal even more than I thought possible.
At the root of it all, love is the answer. It’s the only sane answer to healing anyone of anything.
Question: What does it mean to “love yourself” and why do you think most people have trouble with this?
Response: I can tell you, first of all, what loving yourself is not. It is not a process of finding your best traits and boasting them, hyper-focusing on them, and identifying with them. Loving yourself is not loving your eyebrows.
This is exactly why people have trouble loving themselves. They love what’s temporary. If I love my youthful body, won’t I just stop loving myself when that body grows old? If I love myself for my ability to play piano, what if I get arthritis and cannot play? No more self-love for me.
Self-love must be unconditional. It must be permanent. The only viable way to do that is to stop identifying with your mind, body, and circumstances, and begin to identify with your inner core.
If you learn to love your body as a vehicle for your spirit, you can never fall into our society’s body image crisis. If you learn to love your mind as a servant of your spirit, when your mind falls sick with anxiety, you can just put it to bed and let it rest. If you love yourself unconditionally, no relationship can break you away from yourself.
True self-love is self-knowledge. It is the wisdom of life itself.
Question: What advice do you have for people who are struggling with healing and happiness?
Response: There are three important steps that will help you find healing and happiness.
The first step is to dis-identify with your suffering. You are not your depression. You are not an anxious person. You are not codependent. You are not addicted. You are not crazy. These labels help you medicate away the pain, but they don’t help you solve the problem. They are dis-empowering and limiting.
The second step is to discover your inner power. That power will not activate until you receive the love you need. Love is air. Love is food. It is the food of your soul. Most problems with healing and happiness can be traced back to spiritual anorexia. We starve ourselves of understanding about our true nature, and thus we suffer. Awaken your inner wisdom by connecting with yourself and the people around you. Feed your soul what it needs.
The final step is to learn to decode your emotions. This means listening for the message of your anxiety, instead of listening to the thoughts you get during anxiety. This means listening for the message of depression, instead of the thoughts within depression. This means that, instead of getting an intense craving for cake, you sit down and you ask yourself “What does the cake mean? What do I think the cake can get me? What do I believe is missing? What is the meaning of cake?”
All in all, it is simply self-discovery that will set you free from your pain and onto the path of happiness. Self-knowledge is freedom.
Question: Do you think that people have to hit rock bottom, like you did, in order to change?
Response: I get asked this frequently. Sometimes it comes in the form of a statement (i.e. “Well, it was easy for you, you hit rock bottom, and that’s why you’re like this.”)
I hear many other statements such as “You’re too young to know pain” and “You haven’t got a PhD in this unconditional love thing, do you?” At first, I was confused about why people would speak in such a way, especially when I am trying to help them. Now, I know. When we are trying to let go and surrender to our inner selves, the mind panics. Mind thinks – “I’ve heard of this spirituality stuff, and that doesn’t sound good. I’ll be left out. It sounds uneducated and mindless.” So, the mind protests. “You have to hit rock bottom to change” is just another of the mind’s protests.
You can change anywhere, anytime as long as you’re willing to let go and trust yourself. That, I would say, is the hardest part. The hardest part of healing is saying that, maybe, you don’t have the answers and, maybe, if you just let go, the answers are already there. Just imagine a child coming out of the womb. The child must surrender to the contractions and let go to the process. He must allow himself to leave the warm comfort of the womb and come into this new, scary world. He must let go of where he’s been and go to where he must go. Most importantly, he must realize that the safety of the womb isn’t worth clinging to, because once the contractions start, that safety has already disappeared and the change has already begun.
As a clinical therapist, motivational presenter, author & teacher, Sheila’s passion is to provide a forum for people to process emotion & integrate spiritual understanding into their daily lives. Her new book, Enchanted One: The Portal to Love, provides readers with a guide to embracing love in every moment. “Moving into a harmonic union between your heart and mind allows you to embrace life to its fullest.“