Five Senses. Allowing Yourself to Build and Have a Satisfying Life
Leaving Loneliness: A Workbook: Building Relationships with Yourself and Others”
by David S. Narang Ph.D
Five Senses. Allowing Yourself to Build and Have a Satisfying Life: Overcoming the Barrier of Self-Criticism
Self-sabotage by method of self-critical thoughts can be a particularly vicious part of one’s cocoon, so let’s do a particular exercise purely for this one element that may be included in your cocoon if you relate to these issues. Heavy self-criticism is tricky. It can appear that one is being quite moral in a sense, or principled, by whipping oneself fiercely about one’s failings and limitations. It is as if one is saying, “Well, I may not be seeking and creating my own contentment, but at least I am doing something right by being mad at myself for failing to risk seeking it!” There is a fundamental flaw in this argument. It assumes that if we whip ourselves, we will in fact improve our contentment.
If you critique yourself gently, with sufficient specificity about where you need to improve, yet with self-love, you are likely to improve. However, if you whip yourself ferociously, your mind will become rigid and eventually excessively comfort seeking. That is, this self-whipping is actually a sneaky little distraction from truly taking responsibility for creating your own happiness. You take on the false appearance to yourself of being moral by heavily criticizing your failures, instead of actually taking responsibility by applying the bulk of your energies toward growth and contentment. Excessive self-criticism then is actually merely another avoidance of taking true responsibility for your decisions and life.
This truth should not merely be fuel for more self-criticism (e.g., “I am too self-critical!”), as that again would be self-deception and avoidance of true responsibility. The only correct antidote is to make a practice of gently but firmly redirecting your thoughts toward building your contentment and satisfaction. Period. Do you have this issue? That is, do you tend to get caught up in self-criticism instead of devoting that energy to making decisions and taking action toward your contentment? If so, what specific self-criticisms do you tend to repeat over and over again in your thoughts? What are the specific decisions to be made and/or action steps to be taken toward your deeper desires, which you need to refocus your attentions on (instead of staying in your comfortably unpleasant cocoon of self-criticism)?
Which From Five Senses Are Most Satisfying to Stimulate?
You probably do not often think of your senses, but it is through your senses that you contact your world. If you did not have sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, you would have only your internal thoughts, without any input from your external world. Fortunately this is not the case. Of course, you have your preferences about which sense, or which method of contacting the world, gratifies you the most. People are continually sensing, and so it makes sense (bad pun intended) to spend a few moments considering which types are most gratifying for you. Please circle those sensations that most please you.
Five Senses. Visual
Viewing painting/sculptures Panoramic movies A gorgeous human body Seeing the ocean, forest, or a wide-open meadow Watching loved ones Other Visual:
Five Senses. Auditory
Listening to music Hearing your own voice (e.g., thinking out loud) Listening to others’ undifferentiated voices in a crowd Hearing the voice of somebody you love The sound of rain pouring down Other Sound:
Five Senses. Smell
Fresh-brewed coffee A warm cinnamon roll The scent or perfume of your lover Other Smell:
Five Senses. Touch
Running your hand through sand Touching trees or other objects of nature Touching silk/satin Being softly touched by or gently touching your partner Other Touch:
Five Senses. Deep Touch
Having someone touch or hold you firmly. Holding/hugging yourself Holding somebody else Massage Other Deep Touch:
Proprioceptive (Experiencing Your Body in Motion)
Tensing and releasing muscles (if you are unsure, try it) The bodily sensations of walking The bodily sensations of playing a particular sport Other Proprioceptive:
List your three favorites of the sensations you circled above, and give a little more detail about what each sensation consists of. Sensory needs are simply another kind of need and satisfaction, though you may not often consciously think of them. If you are not consciously aware of the need, you are less likely to attend to it. Attend to sensory needs, and your satisfaction and security will grow.
Five Senses. Locating Beauty
To be securely attached to yourself, you must build your capacity to be open to yourself and to the world. This does not mean that you pull yourself, for example, into physical proximity to somebody who can seriously harm you. In fact, you must discriminate to be aware of what is likely toxic to you and, just as importantly, to discern what nourishes you. In truth, everything contains at least some beauty. Think of an unpleasant person. What makes him/her so unpleasant? Think of his/her faults some more. Now picture that unpleasant person as an infant. Even if he/she was fussy or difficult, if you met him/her now as that infant, you would probably excuse the fussiness as infant behavior and feel affection if you held him/her. Something happened in the world, interacting with his/her genes, to create the unpleasant person you know now in the present, but never forget that you would have felt affection for him/her as an infant. Those beautiful seeds are still within him/her.
However, this is a more challenging route to locate beauty, since the mind may resist finding beauty in situations and people you currently find unpleasant, so let’s develop an easier route to begin with. Use your senses to bring in the beauty of the world. Is there a place you can look right now, hopefully some natural spot as trees or plants, perhaps outside your window, which you find beautiful? After reading this paragraph, focus your attention on that spot. Bring your eyes, ears, and sense of smell, if relevant, to this spot. Sit back, breathe deeply into your abdomen (not shallow in your upper chest), and use your senses to go out and meet this spot.If you truly connect with the beauty in your world and focus on it, you will become very open. It can even make you weep. Noticing the beauty in your world helps you to relax, to let down your guard and be free, and to open up to yourself and others. Try not to worry about being so open, as if something harmful appears, you will adapt to it and act to preserve yourself. Thus, let yourself enjoy the openness.