To take in the good, you have to want to help yourself. Being for yourself, not against others but on your own side, is the foundation of all practices of health, well-being, and effectiveness. Without this stance, you wouldn’t be motivated to act on your own behalf. Unfortunately, for reasons such as being criticized a lot as a child, many people are a much better friend to others than they are to themselves. The more that others didn’t stick up for you in the past, the more important it is for you to stick up for yourself today.

This practice – Being for Yourself, from page 66 in my book Hardwiring Happiness – uses the first three HEAL steps of taking in the good.

1. HAVE – Notice any quality of being for yourself already present in the foreground or background of awareness. Perhaps you can sense or feel a determination to take care of your own needs, or good wishes for yourself. Or, create this feeling. Bring to mind a time when you were strong on your own behalf, when you self-advocated or were kind to yourself. If it’s hard to get on your own side, start by remembering the experience of being for someone else. Feel what this is like, and then see if you can bring the same attitude to yourself. Perhaps get an image or memory of yourself as a young, vulnerable child and see if you can feel supportive toward that young person.

2. ENRICH – Open to this feeling. Let it fill your body and mind and become more intense. Stay with it, help it last, make a sanctuary for it in your mind. Notice different aspects of the experience. Imagine how you would sit or stand or speak of you were on your own side, and then let your posture or facial expression shift in this direction. Be aware of how being on your own side would matter for you at home or work.

3. ABSORB – Sense and intend that this feeling of being on your own side is sinking into you as you sink into it. Let this good experience become a part of you. Give yourself over to it. Let being kind toward yourself, wishing yourself well, be increasingly how you treat yourself.

* * * * *

excerpted from Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

You can deepen your practice with this and other exercises with the Hardwiring Happiness reading guide.