The Enchanted Self
The Rebbe Nachman of Breslow often said, â€œAlways remember-Joy
is not merely incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.â€
As the years have gone by and Iâ€™ve been in the practice of
psychology over 20 years, I have become more and more convinced
that he was so right, that joy is not an option. When we take
away joy and we take away a sense of well-being, a sense that
we are thriving, we allow ourselves or seem to find ourselves
in circumstances that seem to drain, tire and weaken us. We
are no longer the whole human being that is our birthright!
THE ENCHANTED SELF is a positive psychology approach to mental
health that works both in the treatment room and out. I teach
people the techniques they need to start to think in positive
ways about themselves and their world. Thus I teach them how
to see what is right about themselves, rather than what is wrong.
I also teach them to appreciate their own life story, its ups
and downs; the roller coaster ride that we all go on. I teach
how to value our potential even if in childhood we were put
down or criticized, as so many of us are.
I have the belief and I teach the belief that inside of each
of us we know when we are on track and we know when we are living
a wholesome life that fits with the integrity of our particular
spirit. I call this sense of well-being â€The Enchanted Selfâ€
and I teach people how to find their "Enchanted Selves"
again and again-how to recognize and celebrate the states of
well-being that signify they are in touch with the best of themselves.
I stress the positive benefit of recalling memories about one's
life in a fashion that permits us to discover and rediscover
our own talents and resources. I also emphasize how to find
in our past the kernals of pleasure, and reservoirs of strength,
that we can come home to again and again, even if we need to
reshape these facets of ourselves to suite new circumstances
Basically, this learning involves listening to yourself, and
reviewing your own past to see what worked for you, what really
gave you pleasure. What aspects of yourself and your life can
you identify as necessary to experience a state of well-being?
What do you need to feel whole? For example, if you loved to
play the piano as a child, then you may not really enjoy watching
football games as an adult. You may much more enjoy listening
to classical music. However, in order to live a full life, you
may also enjoy football games because your son loves them or
your husband loves them. Thus there is also an accommodation
to someone you care about and a resulting interest develops.
I think you can begin to see that what is going to work for
each person is so unique to that individual! It involves a review
of our history, and it involves analyzing the circumstances
currently in our lives. If we have a handicap we may not be
able to become a ballerina. Even if we have severe arthritis,
we may not be able to become a ballerina at forty. However,
the love of dance since childhood may easily be converted into
wonderful yoga stretches that help arthritis and feel 'dancy'.
So often, there is a creative turn in the road, thinking out
of the box, that the Enchanted Self person develops. You find
you have become an ENCHANTED SELF when you have the courage
to put together using your mind, heart, body and spirit new
inventive ways of bringing pleasure and meaning into your life.
The steps I teach people are rigorous but they are no harder
then all the habits we learn that keep us in bad moods and keep
us depressed. For example, if I teach someone how to review
at the end of the day everything that has gone right in their
day, that it is no harder than listing what went wrong. In fact
it soon becomes easier than listing everything that went wrong.
The reason it becomes easier is that you donâ€™t build up some
of the rage and some of the anger that one can build up when
we review the problems in our lives. Now we are encouraged rather
than discouraged and even may end up sleeping better and feeling
better leading to much less energy drain.
I have found the most effective way to teach people how to
access their Enchanted Self, i.e. to find and hold onto feelings
of joy, and a sense of well-being is to share the Seven Gateways
To Enchantment. It is a quick way to catch your Enchanted Self.
So letâ€™s explore the Gateways and then try an enchanted assignment!
The first Gateway is The Gateway of Knowing Yourself In
Positive Ways. That means getting to know your own talents
and rediscovering your lost potential. This is a fun gateway
and it really builds your self-esteem. You can pursue this Gateway,
even while driving you car! For example, you can go over your
life history, reviewing your strengths and talents. Start back
in childhood-look for your strengths and talents, even if they
were disregarded by your family, and maybe even yourself. Now,
you have the maturity and wisdom to recognize these positive
parts of yourself. Even play with looking for your lost dreams-what
you thought you could do before someone or circumstances may
have dashed those dreams!
After you take some time with the First Gateway, you are
ready for the Second Gateway. This is the one where you begin
to fall in love with yourself! At the heart level you begin
to feel your specialness. This may take time, not to worry.
After all our society does not bring us up to recognize what
is special and wonderful about ourselves! Some of us get closer
to this sense of positive self-love by mentally hugging ourselves
as the child that we once were. Others practice by intentionally
giving oneself a for real quick hug, even if no one else does,
or looking in the mirror and saying to oneself, "I am special
and my strengths are unique and perfectly suited for what I
want and need to do in life!
Another step in successfully passing through the Second Gateway
is acknowledging that the story of your life is a fascinating
fabric of adventures, episodes, happenings, and even mis-haps
that have come together to make a most unique person and that
is YOU! Once you can begin to see that your triumphs are to
be honored and celebrated and that your defeats have within
them the wisdom and the learning that takes you later in life
to new heights you are well along on the road to Enchantment.
The Third Gateway to Enchantment is Learning To Meet Your
Needs and Negotiate for Yourself. The worst thing is to
be so dependent on others and the whims of others that we are
not able to live out our dreams. We need the education, the
skills, the tools, and the negotiating powers that will take
us to fulfill our missions in life. So, donâ€™t be afraid of education,
donâ€™t be afraid to go back for a degree at sixty, donâ€™t be afraid
to have a mentor, to look for advice, to find out how other
people have succeeded in a particular field.
For instance, I remember treating a young woman who had so
much to offer but no path! Divorced and with two young sons
she was forced back into the parent's home and not happy
about it. But once she started back to school and became a nurse
all her doors opened for her. She had financial security, a
home again for her boys and a future! It was tough but forth
The fourth Gateway is the experience of joy. This
Gateway is so incredibly essential. It means replenishing yourself
so that you are not running on empty. It also means not straining
yourself, not accepting more assignments than you can really
handle. When I have opened this Gateway I am able to bow out
when I need to. Maybe I take that vacation I need or want or
maybe I am just strong enough to say I will do this task later
or you better find someone else to handle it and then I get
a good night's sleep. By protecting my mind, body and spirit
I not only set hontest guidelines with others, so I don't
disappoint them, but I make room for joy. Replenishment leads
to feeling good and joy fills us when we are full of life and
vitality. Of course it is necessary to find the ways to replenish
ourselves that work.
If you love to travel, look for ways to travel. If you love
to be with your friends, get together, if you love to be with
your grandchildren, then sit on the floor and play games or
plant a gardenâ€¦whatever works for you.
The Fifth Gateway is the Gateway of Community. We
all know how important it is to feel we belong, that others
care about us and we care about others. But, what you may not
realize is that belonging is a major way to offset depression.
You see, the more we are truly connected to others and feel
a responsibility within a world beyond ourselves, the less the
tendency is for us to get blue and withdrawn. Obviously, this
is a very important Gateway. Finding the right communities to
connect are ongoing assignments for all of us-where we live,
who are friends are, what church or synagogue we attend, what
interest groups we identify with, etc.
The Sixth Gateway is the gateway of mentoring and being
a mentor. Very often, we dismiss and minimize our own wisdom.
We are wise, we have a tremendous amount we can offer others
and there is always others to offer wisdom to ourselves. I love
this little story that a friend told me. She said I am learning
so much from my neighbor. I said, "Who is that?" She
mentioned the persons name. I had never heard her mention her
name before even though we often chatted. My friend said, â€œWell,
I donâ€™t really know her, I just watch her.â€ I asked what do
She explained, "She lives a few houses away and I watch
her. I see how she greets her guests, how welcoming she is,
how she always walks a guest out and says good-bye. I see her
stand there until the guest leaves. I see how radiant her smile
is. Although she is twenty years younger than myself, she is
a real mentor for me, I am learning from her all the time."
That is an example of how easy it is to be mentored. Even the
birds mentor us with their wonderful song. Start to look for
mentors-you will find them all over. And don't forget that
you are a mentor-perhaps even when you don't know it.
Last but not least is the Gateway of Positive Action or
Good Deeds. So essential in all the world and so essential
for good mental health. Research shows that the more we help
others, the more generous in spirit we are, whether we give
time, money, a smile, or a helping hand, our moods lift. Of
course, if we offer to the point of exhaustion then we defeat
the purpose and we will be on empty! The idea is to balance
good mental health by using wise judgment calls of moderation
These are the Seven Gates; we go through them again and again
in life. We never close a door on any of them, we are always
back, we are always learning more, we are always having to reflect
on our lives one more time or learn some new behaviors, make
a new decision, recognize and acknowledge who we are and what
we need and, of course, find new ways to bring pleasure and
meaning into our lives.
A PLAY DATE WITH ENCHANTMENT
What I would like you to do now is to play with the Seventh
Gateway-that of Positive Action. Take a piece of paper write
down 2 positive actions that you can do over the next year.
The first one is a positive action you can do for yourself.
Make it something that will be good for yourself, such as to
restore yourself or broaden your life. The second action is
something that is good for the world and of course will not
harm yourself. You have a year to do these. Put them in your
pocketbook, look at them once in awhile. Do you realize that
just by actually doing these two actions you will: 1) bring
more pleasure and joy to yourself and 2) improve the world in
some small way. Wow- two wonderful steps toward coming home
to your ENCHANTED SELF!
For Further Reading