The concept of ‘channelling’ is one I first heard of in relation to psychics transmitting the thoughts and emotions of various spirits.
Most channelling involves the living, though – falling into the trap of judging yourself according to someone else’s expectations.
This is ok when you know what’s going on – then you can make choices about what’s good for you and what isn’t. For instance, ‘Make efforts to meet your goals’ is good for you but ‘Achieve your goals perfectly or you are a failure’ is bad for you.
It’s when you don’t know what’s going on that self-compassion can go out the window as you drive yourself forward to meet the demands of someone who’s dead or absent.
If you are critical of your performance even when you succeed are you ‘channelling’ a super-critical person from earlier in your life?
Maybe someone who never saw the good in what you did but was quick to point out your mistakes?
Or maybe you think you have to act in the same way as someone you admire and you feel you never measure up? Maybe you went into a career such as medicine because you thought you should emulate your father or your mother or even a grandparent?
All of these are examples of psychologically ‘channelling’ someone else. When you are being especially hard on yourself it’s helpful to ask if you are upset because you are failing to live someone else’s life. Or if the voice that’s condemning you is the remembered voice of someone else.
Self-compassion can cut through all this. If you decide that, no matter what, you are going to be a friend to yourself, then you can silence the voices or, at the very least, make them less powerful in your life.
Self-compassion introduces the element of choice. Instead of ‘channelling’ absent people, take their ideas not as instructions but as information which you are free to use or not, depending on what’s positive for you in your life.
Learn more about being kind to yourself with my 15-lesson online course True Friend.
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