Day 8: The Ignition for Change Imagine that you're sending your 5-year-old child off to kindergarten for the first time. You pack his little lunchbox, you zip up his backpack, and you beam with pride as he walks into the classroom. After school, you pick him up, and see tears in his eyes – some second grader named Johnny had been bullying him on the playground. Immediately you spring to action: you hug your kid, you let him know he’s going to be okay, you schedule a meeting with the principal, and you plan on having a little “chat” with Johnny the next day. All of these actions are motivated by one thing: love. You care about your kid. You’re not protecting him because you’re supposed to, or because you’re practicing a technique, you’re doing it because it matters to you how he’s treated. Learning to Care When we scare ourselves, pressure ourselves, and criticize ourselves, it can activate our brains' danger signals and cause pain. Tomorrow, we'll begin introducing techniques to help you give your brain a feeling of safety. But the source of motivation matters. Will you be implementing these techniques because you think you're supposed to? (More pressure.) Or will you be using these techniques because you care about yourself...because it matters to you how you're being treated? When you struggle with a technique, will you beat yourself up? (More criticism.) Or will you respond with patience and sympathy? In the following clip, notice the transformation that Brandon goes through in just a few minutes: Your browser does not support the audio element. Click here to download the mp3 audio file Early on, he’s interested in techniques solely so he can get out of pain, but after getting in touch with his own humanity, he actually cares that he’s treating himself so cruelly. When there’s true emotional investment, self-care isn't a chore, or a test, it's a genuine pleasure. The Process of Change For many people, it’s hard to generate a feeling of self-love. You can have all the love in the world for your children, parents, friends, nieces, nephews, co-workers, Instagram followers, favorite athletes, and Disney characters that aren’t even real, but when it comes to your own self, it can be a lot more challenging. And I can give you inspirational quotes, or play Christina Aguilera songs telling you how beautiful you are, but the truth is, a poor self-image develops in the same way that everything else does – through learned neural pathways. And just as these neural pathways have been learned, they can be unlearned. Tomorrow we’ll be covering specific techniques to deactivate your danger signals and work toward teaching your brain to feel safe. And like you did with your hypothetical 5-year-old child, try doing it with compassion, with patience, and with love.