Dear Body: A Letter of Apology

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

sneakers shot

Dear Body,

This isn’t the first time this happened. Years ago, weeks ago, you issued the same pleas in the form of an aching back. First it started with a pinch, a whisper. This week it was an all-out roar.

The act of bending down was dicey. Walking fully upright didn’t feel very good. Rolling over in bed took effort (and produced pain). Walking too quickly triggered spasms (and a shout of “ouch!” inside my brain).

You know that I love a challenging workout. I love how empowered I feel after doing many push-ups. It is a reminder that I am strong. Every push-up shatters the stories my brain has spun for years of not being an athlete, of being awkward, of being weak.

Setting Self-Compassionate Boundaries

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

creative joy retreat, 2012, hearts

This week my friend and favorite blogger Therese Borchard wrote a powerful piece about self-compassion and setting boundaries. The whole piece is a must-read. But it’s these words that struck me, because they’re all too familiar:

Self-Care Sunday: Exploring Who You’ve Been

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

caterpillar quote, BN, october 2014

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’m also occasionally sharing a small tip or idea for taking kinder care of ourselves.

Right now I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. (I know. I’m always late to the party.) In the beginning of the book, she talks about all the things she’s been.

She writes: “I’d been so many things already. A loving wife and adulteress. A beloved daughter who now spent holidays alone. An ambitious overachiever and aspiring writer who hopped from one meaningless job to the next while dabbling dangerously with drugs and sleeping with too many men. I was the granddaughter of a Pennsylvania coal miner, the daughter of a steelworker turned salesman.”

A Creative Way to Explore Your Emotions

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

glitter, washi tape, creativity, 2014

All of our emotions, whether negative or positive, are welcome. We get into dicey territory when we try to avoid them or stuff them down or judge ourselves for having them (why are you upset about the world’s smallest thing?!).

The best thing we can do with our emotions is to process them. The best thing we can do is to name the feeling we’re feeling and then explore it.

We can get curious. And once we identify and explore, then we can attend to our needs (soothe ourselves, set a boundary, confront the conflict).

But this is hard. I know. It’s especially hard if we’re more accustomed to pretending emotions don’t exist — if we’ve had years and years of practice. It’s especially hard if we just don’t take the time to tune into ourselves.

Questions to Ask Ourselves for Practicing Self-Care

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

flowers and candle at home, CROPPED

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.

Self-Care Sunday 10.19.14

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Unrepeatable quote, BN, october 2014

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?

What to Do When Your Inner Critic Is Roaring

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

creative joy, wishes

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.

How to Distinguish Your Core Self From Your Inner Critic

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

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.

A Helpful Way to Think Of Your Thoughts

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

St. Aug, October 2014, taken by mama

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.

World Mental Health Day: On Stigma

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS


Today, is World Mental Health Day. In honor of this day, I’m talking about stigma and seeking professional support. Learn more about this day, and read other pieces here.

When psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, was diagnosed with depression, her initial relief turned into shame. As she writes in her book Living with Depression:

…I felt inadequate and embarrassed by my diagnosis. I knew that society feared anything that strayed from the norm, and the idea of being seen as different, disabled, or dysfunctional really frightened me. I didn’t tell anyone about my depression, kept my medication hidden in a bedside dresser, and kept secret my feelings of failure. I even went so far as to believe that I should hang up my shingle as a practicing psychologist because, clearly, I was incapable of taking care of myself as a person. How could I take care of others as a professional? Despite the fact that I was a psychologist educated in the mind, brain and body, the misconceptions about mental illness shoehorned themselves into my life.

Many people with mental illness internalize society’s negative attitudes and start feeling shame. Many don’t seek help. Because there isn’t just a stigma against mental illness in our society; there’s also a stigma against seeking help.


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