This morning I was reading Mara’s newsletter (I highly recommend subscribing, which you can do here). In it, she mentions the simple question we can ask ourselves when practicing self-care: What do I need?
It’s a question we ask every day, several times a day.
I love this because sometimes we complicate self-care. We get caught up in shoulds and checking off tasks. We equate self-care with specific activities — pedicures, bubble baths, exercise, eating certain foods.
In this new series I share links to all kinds of posts, which explore taking kinder care of ourselves — from appreciating our bodies to getting to know ourselves better to expressing our creativity (which goes hand in hand with self-discovery) to feeling our feelings to saying no to saying yes to savoring supportive, healthy relationships.
Because self-care helps us build a more positive body image. Because self-care helps us build fulfilling, satisfying lives. Because self-care simply feels good!
I hope you find these links inspiring and empowering.
12 ways to get out of a bad mood.
Are you missing from the visual story of your life?
A few days ago, in this post, I shared the many qualities that make up our inner critics, from Tara Mohr’s powerful book Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message. Because our inner critic is very different from our core self.
As Tara writes, “You are not the critical voice. You are the person aware of the critical voice. You are the person feeling perplexed by it or bummed out by it or believing it…You are the entity that is hearing the voice.”
Today, I wanted to share more insights from Tara’s book on how we can navigate our inner critic because she offers a helpful and compassionate approach.
Each of us has an inner critic. In fact, we’re hardwired for one, according to Tara Mohr in her fantastic book Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message.
She describes the inner critic as an expression of our safety instinct. It’s the part of us that yearns to stay safe from dangers like hurt, failure, disappointment and rejection.
And it’s a part that we often confuse with our core selves. We assume that the cruel comments are just us. It’s how we are. And they must be true.
We accept the inner critic’s messages wholeheartedly.
Years ago, I used to believe my cruel thoughts wholeheartedly. One reason was because I assumed they were true blue facts. Another reason was because I worried that I was cheating if I didn’t agree with these negative thoughts.
I was somehow doing something wrong if I let them slip by without fully consuming them. I would be letting myself off the hook. I would be taking the easy way out. I wouldn’t be holding myself accountable or responsible. And this wasn’t the right thing to do, I assumed.
Author Tina Welling had no idea that she had an underactive thyroid. She was experiencing all the symptoms, such as weakness and frequent infections. She was canceling meetings and outings with friends. Her work schedule was getting tougher and tougher to keep up with.
But she hadn’t noticed any of this — until a blood test showed her levels were off the charts. She’d become numb to her own body.
I think it’s key to feel our feelings — whatever the feeling that comes up. All feelings are valid. So if you’re feeling like crap about your body, then you’re feeling like crap about your body.
It’s something to acknowledge, accept and feel — instead of beating yourself up for beating yourself up.
But sometimes these feelings and thoughts stick around too long. And they start dictating our decisions to not take kind care of ourselves (which only boosts our negative body image). They become overwhelming. All-consuming. Stressful.
Rachel Eddins, one of my favorite experts to interview for Psych Central, shared a powerful story for a piece I’m writing on self-doubt:
For years her client believed she was unworthy, which held her back in many areas of her life. It was a story created for her by someone else. It was a story that followed her for her most recent predicament: She needed to find a new job.
When she and Rachel started exploring what she’d really like to do, her self-doubt started roaring — I can’t do that! – and she felt stuck.
This weekend I took out my journal and wrote a kind of letter to myself. I started with these words: I forgive myself…
I wrote down the things I am ready to forgive myself for (and a few things I am not). Maybe you, too, want to focus on forgiveness, and write about what you’re ready to let go.
My whole life I’ve leaned toward all-or-nothing thinking. Black or white. Binge or restrict. Terrible day or terrific.
In my mind I was either the energizer bunny or a sloth. I was either beautiful or blah. And how could I be beautiful if I was only pretty sometimes?
If I ate too much, I’d think F that, my diet is ruined! and pile on the extra helpings. I didn’t ask myself if I really wanted more, if I genuinely wanted to enjoy extra bites. No. Instead, I was focused on the fact that tomorrow I’d need to be perfect.
Tomorrow would be the day. The day I’d follow that diet flawlessly. And then in a week, a few weeks, when I lost some weight, I could finally start taking better care of myself. I could show my face at the gym. I could finally appreciate my body. I could feel better about myself.