It’s been awhile since I last sat in class learning about Natural Killer cells, B cells and T cells, and the whole wonderful intricate system that defends us against illness and disease on a daily basis.
But not to worry, I’m not actually going to teach you the science of immunity today (I can almost hear your collective sigh of relief as I write this).
Instead, I’m going to talk about what we can learn from our magnificent immune system.
Every day we get bombarded with things that can make us sick, but 99% of the time we have no idea because our body is busy fighting them off. We assume that because we aren’t sick, we haven’t been exposed.
However, every now and again, especially at this time of year, we get hit with the common cold.
When this happens it simply means that our immune system was fighting as hard as it could, but there just weren’t enough defenders around to stop those pesky germs from invading and overrunning. But you know what happens when you get a cold? Your body is so smart, it intuitively starts to create a task force that will recognize that specific virus so that the next time it knowing, you’ll be ready. Your body will be way faster to defend itself, basically ensuring that you don’t get sick again from that same strain of virus.
Why Am I Telling You All This?
You see — our physical immune system is one layer of immunity against physical hardship and attacks.
But there’s another immune system, and it’s what you may want to think of as your emotional-spiritual immune system.
It’s the inner layer of protection against other’s opinions of us. It’s the system that helps us deal when meeting with failure or a bruised heart.
It’s a business deal gone wrong, a meeting you planned all week that falls through, it’s being told your presentation wasn’t good enough or a loved one telling you that you got it all wrong.
As a human being all those external attacks can hurt. Yet just like our physical immune system gets stronger after being attacked, so too does our emotional-spiritual immune system strengthen after an outside attack if we’re aware of it.
Every time something outside yourself presents a challenge or brings you down, we make our initial response. Then, we have a choice.
Often the initial response may be reactive. But by practicing self-awareness, you can start to notice that initial, knee-jerk response, and then choose to pause. To take a step back. The more you practice pausing the less reactive you will be.
By pausing we invite choice into our response. And through choice we strengthen our internal immunity of how outside forces affect our mood.
Here’s An Example:
Mary’s sister Monica tells her that she’s silly to quit her job and go back to school, and that she’s making a terrible mistake considering the current economic climate.
At first Mary’s reaction may be sadness and self-doubt, and that’s totally okay. It’s a normal human reaction. However, through her awareness of that initial reaction, she chooses to pause and take a moment to reflect. Upon inner reflection she sees that it makes sense that her sister would feel this way, for that is how she lives her life and makes her choices, but Mary can clearly see that this is the right choice for her.
By taking this time to pause she helped strengthen her inner emotional-spiritual immune system. Doing so also gave her some internal clarity regarding her decisions, and she did not have to go into a defensive external protection mode which could have caused her more grief, along with an unnecessary fight with her sister.
From that place of inner strength and immunity, she was able to thank her sister for her thoughts and still take action in the direction that would be best for her life.
Building Inner Immunity Is Both A Daily Practice & Something That Builds Over Time
For example, as a writer I often get comments on the things I write about, both negative and positive. When I first wrote publicly I’d take things personally — my immunity was low. But then I decided to strengthen that emotional muscle. When a negative comment comes in the very first thing I do (aside from reacting internally, which is involuntary) is take a moment to stop and think. I go inside to reflect and feel if there’s anything I can learn from the negative comment. If there isn’t, I choose to simply respect another’s freedom to hold a differing opinion.
As my immunity grows I often find myself not reacting, but smiling instead. And the magic behind practicing this kind of mindfulness is that it begins to pour into all the other areas of your life. The more your inner immunity strengthens the more at peace you’ll be when external circumstances don’t go the way you had hoped, or when you meet with a perceived personal attack. As your inner immunity grows you’ll often find that the attack doesn’t even feel like an attack — just like our physical immune system shields us from 99% of the attacks that come to our physical cells on a daily basis.
It’s important to build your immunity so that you can show up for your life and take steps towards fulfilling your dreams and following the calling of your heart, without being swayed by the opinions of others.
I know way too many writers and artists that hide their work for fear of being judged. But if you have a message to share or art you want to give to the world, your fear of judgement is taking away the beauty of your art from the world.
Instead Of Fearing Judgement, Practice Building Your Inner Immunity
Plus, it gets easier every time.
Whether it’s judgement or challenges that arise at work or at home, the more you practice strengthening your inner immunity the stronger it gets.
Here’s a simple 6-step process to strengthening your emotional-spiritual immune system:
- Start to notice anytime you judge something or face a challenge: notice your initial reaction.
- Practice pausing as soon as you remember. Even if you end up in tears, the moment you remember to pause — do so. Over time you’ll find the gap between reaction and pausing shortens.
- Take a deep breath and reflect within. This may mean meditating on your heart to see what feelings come up, or simply taking a time out to figure out what you believe about the situation at hand.
- Trust yourself. You may call that inner knowing intuition or guidance from spirit. Whatever you call it — trust it above and beyond another’s opinion of you.
- Take right action. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or angry with the person or : take the action that will move you forward in the direction you desire.
- Rinse and repeat.
The magic of building your inner emotional-spiritual immune system is you create new found flexibility in your life. You’ll find yourself experiencing more peace, freedom, and the courage to take action towards fulfilling your dreams.
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