My daughter is a Harry Potter fan (and I guess I’ve become one, too!). One of the most powerful spells in that series of magical books calls forth your Patronus. What is that, you say?
A Patronus is (from J.K. Rowling's description) "a kind of positive force, a projection of hope, happiness, the desire to survive." The Patronus can't feel despair like humans can. Its function is to protect you from forces that want to suck all that positive energy out of you (called the Dementors in Harry Potter land).
Guess what - you have a Patronus, too! It's that part within that believes in you, that holds your memories of joy and happiness, that sees the magical possibilities of life. You can ward off fears and any negativity when you're tuned into your Patronus.
That negativity often comes not from outside of ourselves, but from our own mind. We all have Dementors (those scary, black, ghost-like beings that feed off our positive memories in the Potter series) of anxiety, self-criticism, shame, and despair that arise in our thoughts.
The essential practice - when you feel your own Dementors raising their terrifying heads - is to recognize they are thoughts, and don't have power over you unless you GIVE it to them.
Want some help with taking back your power? The Patronus is here for you! The power of the Patronus acts as a shield, helping you to re-focus on what is positive in your life rather than allowing the worries, fears, and negative thoughts to drag you down.
It’s helpful to visualize your Patronus. In J.K. Rowling’s books, the Patronus takes the form of an animal. Choose an animal that speaks to your heart and soul. Is it a stag, like Harry Potter's? How about a dolphin? Or like your beloved cat or dog? What about an eagle? Or a magical creature, like a unicorn? Find a power animal that resonates with you to represent your Patronus.
When those negative thoughts arise, cast your spell - EXPECTO PATRONUM! Imagine your Patronus, glowing brightly and powerfully, making a stand between you and the illusory negative thoughts and fears. Focus on remembering the happy, joyful, positive times in your life. And just like the Dementors, see those thoughts repelled away.
OK, I know it’s not always that easy to dissipate anxiety and negative thoughts. But with this fun exercise, you’ll be less intimidated by them. It is one more tool to have in your pocket (along with your wand, of course) that will help you transform negative thoughts and emotions into something more helpful and uplifting.
With the aid of your Patronus, you can gain some distance from your self-judgment and fears, utilize other tools to dismantle them, and find empowerment over them. Perhaps you can practice having compassion for all that worry and negativity. Let the Patronus stand between you and the negative mental energy. It will give you the perspective to examine those judgments or worries and do a reality check – are they true? Are they necessary? Do I really need to let them have power over me? No, you don’t.
EXPECTO PATRONUM! You’ve got this!
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