Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (from Random House in October ...Read More
Not being able to find an inner protector is a real fact of the inner of world of many people. Developing one is a matter of committed practice toward one’s own well-being, which will gradually change the brain. Some steps along the way:
Look for little natural moments of the senses in which there is a feeling, no matter how small, of ease, relaxation, loosening of contraction, exhaling, satisfaction of a need (e.g., drinking water when thirsty), sinking into the sofa at the end of the day, crawling into bed – and then deliberately rest your mind upon them, stay with them in awareness, savor them, let them sink in . . . for a dozen seconds or longer. As you persist in this little practice – several times a day or more – open to it becoming a more general felt sense of at least a bit more settling in the body, feeling a little more ease, less tension . . . even a growing sense of refuge or a bit of safety in this general easing.
Also look for moments when others are at all kind, supportive, friendly, companionable, inclusive . . . even valuing, appreciative, affectionate, or loving. Consciously recognize the fact of what is happening. You may personally think you are not worthy of this positive attention, even caring, but it is an undeniable fact that the other person thinks you are! Next, gently prod yourself to let this factual recognition become an emotional experience, even a subtle or mild one, of feeling cared about, that you matter even if it’s in a small way. Then in the same way as in the bullet point just above, try to stay with this experience in your mind of feeling liked, appreciated, seen, understood, supported, or loved for a dozen seconds or more, sensing that it is sinking into you.
If you do these two things, over and over again, you will gradually plant the seeds that will grow into an inner protector.
There are other methods as well, and I encourage you to look into practices on self-compassion, getting on your own side, taking in the good, and seeing the good in yourself.
Hang in there with this. Look out at the world, with its 7 billion human beings, and countless other living plants and animals and microbes on the earth, in the water, and in the air. You would wish that they would have and experience an inner protector (or the animal, plant, or microbe equivalent). Well, you are one of those beings! No different from the other humans, no less deserving of true happiness and its causes, including an inner protector. Much as you would wish an inner protector for all those beings, you could rightfully wish one for yourself. I wish one for you – and I bet so would everyone else who knows you, if they thought about it. It’s alright to join this club!
What are your personal practices for developing an inner protector? What works for you?