When life gets busy and overwhelming and hard, it’s the simple and small rituals that can ground us. That can serve as an anchor. That can remind us of what is important. Of what is us.
Rituals become familiar actions, gestures we can lean on. They can calm us. They can help us to reflect. To get quiet when chaos swirls around us. And they can become a time we meet all kinds of needs (our need for stillness, serenity, solitude, spirituality).
In her book Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life Christine Hassler includes a valuable tip for honoring our feelings. Sometimes, when negative feelings arise, we might not be able to experience them fully. We might be at work or with others.
That’s when scheduling a date with your feelings can help. Because setting a date means you’re not avoiding or suppressing your feelings. You’re honoring them at another time.
As Hassler writes, “Our feelings have feelings. I know that may sound strange but it’s true. When our feelings don’t feel they are acknowledged, they end up being recycled and coming back later, snowballing into a more intense feeling, or even manifesting as a health issue, to try and get our attention in another way.”
I think of play and creativity as a big part of self-care. Because with play and creativity come curiosity (about our bodies, our feelings, the world), humor, laughter, and simply a playful approach to life.
That is, instead of criticizing ourselves for being anxious or upset, we can get curious and explore why we’re feeling this way. We can explore where this feeling is in our body (your heart, your stomach).
We can marvel at our surroundings, because so much magic really does exist in our lives. It’s just a matter of using our senses fully.
In addition to sharing links to others’ posts on self-care (along with a few of my own) in these “Self-Care Sunday” posts, I also sometimes share a small tip or idea for taking kinder care of ourselves.
Self-care is an attitude — of compassion toward ourselves. It’s asking ourselves “what’s the kindest choice I can make?”
It’s also action. It’s action that nourishes and supports us. It’s action that contributes to our health and well-being, in all different ways. It’s small steps on a daily basis. Because our lives, of course, are made up of little moments.
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.