I'll never forget the day I befriended my inner critic. It was one of the breakthrough moments of my NLP training a few years ago.
She was a nasty piece of work. Brought me down constantly with her bitchy remarks and deeply gloomy attitude. Nothing was ever good enough for her. Especially me.
I'd been trying to shut her up for years, but she wasn't having it. I'd been doing it all wrong. I didn't realise she was just a misguided part of me who actually thought she was helping. So suppressing her just made her scream louder ...
And when I actually started listening to her, we worked it out in about 5 minutes! And when she came over to my side, I burst into racking sobs and tears of relief (hers I think) as she relaxed and kinda dissolved into me. No longer separate, frustrated and alone. She was home. And just glad to kick her shoes off, let go and rest.
Then an electric shock went through my entire body as I got back all the energy she'd been using to keep her tirade going. Feeling all this new power left me shaky and spacey for the rest of the day.
Seriously life-changing stuff!
That evening as I walked back along the seafront at Brighton, all the colours seemed brighter and the sounds around me happier. People smiled at me for no reason. I think all that positive energy was catching.
And as I climbed the stairs to the apartment where I was staying, I suddenly noticed I could see both of the walls. This was a shock. My vision was wider. Before I would not have noticed them. Now I did. My eyes had been truly opened.
Weird? Yes! But good weird.
We all have parts of us we try to suppress. But it never works. The trick is to reach out to them and make them feel safe enough to come back home. Some parts are adults. Some are children. Some come readily. Some will negotiate. Some will take a lot of time to come around.
But they all have the same thing in common. They need to feel accepted for the job they're trying to do. Because they are all trying their best for us. Just often it's not in helpful or healthy ways.
Since that day I have helped many parts to come home. To find peace. Parts of mine and parts of my clients. It's always a powerful experience. Although no one has ever reacted quite like I did that day. She was a strong one, that's for sure.
In part 2 of this post, I'll write about how I felt a part of me die inside when my Mum died 16 years ago. And how I finally recovered that part of me just this morning ...
And in the meantime, maybe you could consider what parts you might be rejecting or ignoring. Perhaps you could take a moment to chat with them. Invite them home for tea maybe. To take a load off and rest a while. Together once more.
Photo: John Hain, Pixabay
I was chatting with friends last night about how we find it so hard to get a decent photo that captures the real "us" for our websites. We agreed that a great photographer would probably be helpful, but also that it's about relaxing for the shot. Properly. Because if we're the slightest bit stressed, our lips go thin and our face gets tense. And the eyes can't hide how we're feeling inside.
We decided we were obsessing a little too much about our flaws. And we needed to just be ourselves and people will approve or not. To not stress about what we can't control. So we're keeping it real and not photoshopping our photos or posting pictures from decades ago. Not yet anyway!
And it got me thinking about how we judge ourselves so harshly. And how it's worse for people whose whole identity is strongly linked to their external beauty or an image they want to project. Because this can become a huge source of stress. Trying to get that perfect photo ...
Me, I never got that obsessed with beauty. Quite the opposite. When I was young, I thought I was ugly, because no one ever complimented me on my looks. Not like they did my pretty, younger sister. They would compliment me on my brain, my grades, my achievements. So I became obsessed with achievement. And being perfect at it. Yeah, right there was the start of my stress.
I know it's not helpful to praise kids for their looks. That's not my issue. My problem was I'd decided I was ugly and so I didn't feel OK with being "me" as I grew up. I'd made a false assumption and created a severe lack of self-esteem and confidence because of it.
And now, as I look back at those old photos of little me, I can see I was actually rather cute! I just wish I'd known that. Way back when. A lot of wasted time hiding in the background, feeling ashamed of being me ...
Nowadays I'm OK. More than OK. My work with NLP has released those old, limiting beliefs and, with them, the shame and the stress.
So now I appreciate my gifts. I love my big eyes, even if they're a little more lined than before. And by being OK with me as I am has brought out this new energy. A glow that is so much more powerful that physical beauty. Getting old is still a luxury on our planet and so I plan to enjoy the journey. And love my body for getting me every step of the way.
Even if I do wonder at times who that person is who looks back at me from the mirror :)
It is what it is.
I came across a video by Dove about women and their self-perception that expands on my point perfectly. Even though we all put ourselves down about our looks, others will always see us in a better light.
A forensic artist draws a woman's face as she describes it (she's hidden behind a screen). Then a stranger describes her to the same artist, who draws a second image. The woman then gets to see both drawings side by side. The results are quite moving.
Watch the 3 min video here.
Our brains are wired to look for the negative (focusing on and amplifying the things we believe are "bad" and ignoring the "good"). So we all need to work doubly hard to be notice beauty in the world. And in ourselves.
The only answer is to accept ourselves, warts and all. Because others don't really notice our warts anyway. They're focusing on their own warts. Their own dramas.
And when people spend time with us, what they really see is the person inside. Our real beauty within. And true friends really love us for it. And reflect it back.
I also found this 2 minute video showing an alternative view, this time with men. I love the irreverent way that people take emotionally-laden stuff and just turn it on its head.
And it reminds me that I, too, can choose to take myself a little less seriously ....
A Native American was talking to his grandson.
“There are two wolves fighting inside all of us – the wolf of hate & fear and the wolf of love & peace.”
The boy looked up, wide-eyed and asked,
“Which one will win?”
His grandfather replied,
“The one we feed,”
I find it amazing how when we put words in a certain order, they can become something truly beautiful and inspiring.
Here are a few that spoke to me recently:
"The soul is dyed the colour of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become."
- Heraclitus (Greek philosopher, circa 535 – 475 BC)
Nope - can't follow that......
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
Sometimes I like to think that, one day, I'm going to change the world.
Make a great contribution somehow.
But stress loves ambition. So maybe the only thing I need to do is grow a little each day.
To become more of who I need to be, in order to serve who I need to serve.
To change the world of each client, one by one ..
And that will be enough ..
Here's a great TED talk by Ric Elias - it's really short and really impactful. He tells us what he learned in the few short moments when he thought he was going to die. And how he's changed his life as a result.
And the best quote for me? This one:
"I no longer try to be right. I choose to be happy."
A healthy, intimate relationship spells health for our mind and our body. Having someone to share those amazing moments with. To support us when life kicks us in the teeth, reduces our stress and makes us less likely to ever experience depression.
In the past few weeks, I've been lucky enough to attend the weddings of two couples who mean the world to me. Emotional stuff. To see them take those vows of lifelong love, in spite of all the things life may throw at them.
And reflecting on these happy memories reminded me of these quotes on finding "the one" which I thought I'd share:
"If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, we cannot take care of the people we love. Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person" Thich Nhat Hanh
And I love this stunning quote on the subject by Galway Kinnell which I found in a post by Dr Ben Kim:
“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.”
Only when we unconditionally accept ourselves and feel whole, even when alone, are we truly ready to love another. Because love means meeting their needs instead of looking for them to heal us instead.
Only then will we attract the right wrong person for us in that moment.
So although nobody's perfect, then a relationship can be ...
You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
Just came across this great blog written by Wee Peng Ho which is packed with advice for a healthy, stress-less life.
And I found on there this list of inspirational quotes, so I thought I'd share my favourite two:
This one is simply stunning:
How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light – Barry Lopez
Make "your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light" - Wow! That just says it all for me. Sends a wave of energy down my spine ...
And this one, on keeping it simple, from one of my all-time heroes (and featuring one of my favourite herbs!) :
However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts - Henry David Thoreau
And this wasn't on the list, but it's so brazen it makes the cut :
Here's another great post on Mark Sisson's blog where he lists the 7 characteristics we can cultivate which are associated most with living a long and contented, healthy life.
I don't necessarily agree all the time with his dietary advice, but he has some great insights on the human psyche and he seems to be one interesting and clued-up, wise person.
I especially liked the information on the sayings of Epictetus (another article here) and many of the ways to let go of controlling everything in our lives really rang true for me.
And it's helped me be more content with things as they are.
When I don't allow myself to get upset about things I can't control, there's much more sunshine about.
The trick for me was working out what those things I couldn't control were. And now I have, I'm much more at peace with the world.
Something else to add to my list entitled "things I wish I'd been taught at school instead of Latin and Shakespeare"......!
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