Larrry Berkelhammer, PhD., is the author of "In Your Own Hands," a book that talks about mind training to improve health in instances of chronic illness.

Larrry Berkelhammer, PhD., is the author of “In Your Own Hands,” a book that talks about mind training to improve health in instances of chronic illness.

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live a vibrant, meaningful life while living with chronic health challenges or other life challenges.

Every Tuesday I post a new, very brief video from my presentations or interviews. Every Friday this Q&A column appears.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:  What is the best way to improve self-acceptance and self-valuing?

ANSWER:   The most proven method of gaining self-acceptance and self-valuing is to courageously allow yourself to fully experience your thoughts and feelings. It is very natural to want to avoid troubling thoughts and feelings. Yet, the harder we try to force certain thoughts and feelings out, the stronger they get.

When I was about to present my work to a professional audience a few years ago, I became filled with shame. My mind was filled with thoughts such as I am not worthy of doing this presentation. I’m too flawed to go out on that stage. My anxiety worsened, the harder I tried to get rid of those dysfunctional thoughts.

Finally, with about one minute to go before being introduced, I completely gave up on my obsession with appearing confident, and I decided to go out there with all my shame. Instantly, a wave of relief came over me.

That experience was a powerful lesson. That day, I learned that self-acceptance and self-valuing are not found by trying to adopt those qualities. Rather, they are found by allowing ourselves to fully experience whatever thoughts and feelings are in our immediate experience, no matter how awful they feel.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges or issues related to wellbeing. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about living a life of mindfulness-based mastery or about the relationship between the mind and health or wellbeing?

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. An answer to your specific question may not appear in this column. The reason for that is I wait until I get a certain number of related questions, then I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one. People in my College of Marin classes and my other presentations asked most of the questions appearing in this column.