Gratitude is a self-compassionate practice, according to therapist Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, who I recently interviewed for a piece on authentic ways to practice gratitude.
“Acknowledging and expressing genuine gratitude for what you appreciate in your life is a deeply kind act,” she said.
I agree. When we express gratitude for anything, it deepens our connection with it, and it deepens our connection with ourselves.
I believe each of us is creative. From birth.
Julia Cameron believes that each of us is a writer. Also from birth.
“I believe we all come into life as writers,” she writes in her book The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life.
We are born, she writes, with the gift of language. This gift comes to us within months, as we start naming people, objects, our surroundings.
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.
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.
Most of us have a mean — maybe even cruel — inner voice that says everything from “You’re too big to wear that!” to “You’re so stupid!” Understandably, we may grow to dislike — maybe even despise — this inner voice.
We might dislike it because it sounds like someone who used to bully us. Because it sounds like a parent, past partner or so-called friend. Maybe it sounds like the younger you, who regularly received hurtful remarks about your appearance in school.
I like the approach in the book Mindful Compassion, written by researcher Paul Gilbert, Ph.D, and former Tibetan Buddhist monk Choden.
When I was deep in the well of body hatred, I didn’t really see any other path, any other way of being with myself. My friends and family loved me unconditionally, and told me not to be so critical.
But aside from them, there was always a sinking, gnawing feeling that I wasn’t enough, one substantiated (or perhaps triggered) by everything around me.
I ate up these messages. I ate up the messages that said I’d finally be enough when I looked a certain way.
As I’m reading through The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance and Happiness by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher, I’ve been thinking about all the things we can say no to. (I’ve already mentioned their book in this post.)
Because saying no helps us make room for the important yeses in our lives — the yeses that nourish and serve us.
Because saying no leaves us with more time, energy and even health. It’s how we can listen to ourselves, stand up for ourselves and practice compassionate self-care.
Right now I’m reading the book The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance and Happiness by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher. I came across a line that struck me:
Last week I wrote about how we can ask for what we need. Because we can’t expect others to read our minds. And we can’t expect them to decipher our hints, jokes or passive-aggressive remarks.
That’s why it’s key to be clear, direct, humble and polite.
Sometimes, though, we might not have the words. We might not know what to say when we’re put on the spot. Or we might be too frustrated, angry or hurt to say the words.