We’ve all encountered it before – that inner voice that becomes our worst critic. Perhaps in an effort to improve ourselves or live up to our expectations, we can be downright brutal. Thoughts of “you’re not good enough”, “you’re messing up”, or “you’re bad for feeling/acting/being that way” can sneak in when we least expect them. We begin to feel that we aren’t OK.
Never fear, you don’t have to be a victim to your own mind! The mind is meant to be our servant, not our master. We have this powerful capacity within us -what the yogis call the Buddhi, or higher intellect – to conceive of amazing things, resolve problems, create beauty, and be of service to others. Your mind can be of service to you, if you start to gently re-educate yourself and tap into that Buddhi.
The first step is recognizing that your thoughts aren’t reality. This may seem obvious, but most of the time, we buy into them hook, line, and sinker. But check it out – if you can think the most silly, outrageous thought (like your toenails resemble purple tweezers feasting on cotton balls!) and know that it’s not real, why on earth do you fully believe the rest of the silly things that float through there?
I know, you’re saying, but there’s evidence that I’m bad. Look what I did in the past, see how I hurt that person, blah blah blah (ahem – did you notice that was a thought? And you believed it!).
The only evidence is what you are thinking. More thoughts. Is there a judge and jury? Can you really prove that you’re bad in any way shape or form? Or did you just make an error in judgment, or had a weak moment when something blurted out?
The truth is that making mistakes is something we all do – does that make us all bad? Of course not! In fact, I’ll bet that if someone you love did the same thing that you judge yourself for, you wouldn’t be judging them nearly as much as you judge yourself. You’d be more likely to forgive them. Can you love and forgive yourself, too?
This month, I’m giving you tools to release that voice and find the “I’m Good, I’m Blessed, I’m OK!” voice instead (or how about just that quiet, inner stillness? maybe even better).
My new friend, Marina Smerling, founder of Shameless Heart Coaching, teaches Non-Violent Communication and shares her tip for getting back to the heart without harming yourself or anyone else. I think you’ll love her article as much as I do: The Self-Empathy Chant (see below). It’s perfect for letting go of that negative, shaming self-talk (I was grinning ear to ear after trying it).
This week’s blog also empowers you to find what’s good, rather than focusing on the bad: 3 Good Things Share your good things with me!
On the Awakening Self Radio Show this month, Evening Meditation and Inspiration will focus on Healing the Harmful Thoughts. You’ll learn how to compassionately embrace negative self-talk without buying into it – and identify with your Self, not the thoughts. Tuesday, July 16th from 9-9:30pm PDT (or anytime thereafter).
A great way to receive support in your inherent goodness and BEING who you really are is my Sacred Journey Women’s Psychotherapy Group. There is ONE SPACE remaining, every other Thursday evening, 6:30-8pm. If you’re interested, contact me or see details below or on my website.
You’re OK! Bad thoughts aren’t “bad”, and neither are you. If there’s trash on the side of the freeway, it’s simply there – it’s not about you. You can choose to pick it up or not, but you wouldn’t mistake it for you, would you?
Think of thoughts as the rubbish – or compost, or recycle – of your mind. They aren’t YOU. Don’t identify with them. You are the one who watches… and you are One with the source of love, goodness, and empowerment. BE that good, rather than the thoughts.
- Event Calendar
- Blog: “3 Good Things” by Rev. Connie L. Habash
- Awakening Self Radio Show Schedule
- Blog: “The Self-Empathy Chant” by Marina Smerling
- Spiritual Quotes
Sacred Journey Women’s Spiritual Psychotherapy Group – 2nd group is every other Thursday, 6:30-8pm!
1 SPACE REMAINING
Do you long to uncover your authentic self? To awaken your awareness and vital energy to serve your purpose and be fulfilled? To live vibrantly in the present moment? All in a community of loving, supportive women? Sacred Journey is for you!
A place to call your sanctuary…
A group of women who deeply support you on your spiritual path and nurture your personal growth, healing, and transformation
- Find your authenticity
- Develop trust – in yourself, others, and the Divine
- Learn to communicate confidently and honestly
- Transform your relationships
- Work through challenging emotions
- Experience potent awareness and aliveness in the present moment
- Discover your true, empowered Self
Spiritual topics each session lead us to explore meaningful areas of our lives. Meditation and other spiritual practices deepen the experience.
This is a place to bring it all, knowing you’re accepted and embraced in your unique spiritual and personal path. This is a Sacred Journey.
If you feel called to this group, call or email me for further questions or to schedule your one-on-one initial session. 650-996-2649 or contact me.
Sunday, August 18th – Theme: Standing in Our Truth
Sunday, October 27th – Theme: Gifts of Our Ancestors
9:15-11am. 330 Melville, Palo Alto, CA
Join us for an all-ages celebration of the Divine through yoga (kids and adult classes!), meditation, singing, spiritual discussion and community. For details, see Spiritual Family.
Mind-Body Zone Teacher Training returns
Once again, I’m teaching Yoga Philosophy, Ethics, and Lifestyle in the Mind-Body Zone Yoga teacher training, beginning in September. If you would like to join this extraordinary training with Lynn Cheng-Kaylor, Setareh Moafi, Lorien Neargarder, myself, and others, check out the MBZ website!
Yoga Quest on 4 Monday mornings in October!
Yoga Quest: Journey to the Center of Your Self is a 4-6week series of yoga and meditation classes focused on yoga philosophy, with an extra plus – group and individual exercises designed to deeply explore your insights!
Yoga Quest is for you if you:
- Relish the deep inner peace and insights you receive in yoga class
- Love Yoga philosophy
- See Yoga as a lifestyle and want to live it “off the mat”
- Receive powerful inspiration during class, but wish you had written it down
- Are committed to your personal and spiritual growth and want more!
Each Yoga Quest series focuses on a different aspect of yoga philosophy or spiritual principles.
For details, see my Yoga Quest page… registration begins in August!
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3 Good Things
Aarrrrgh. There it goes again. You know, that voice that gets after you for yelling at your kids, or leaving the laundry piled on the couch for a week, or wonders if you had offended someone – weeks after you did it. Yeah, that voice.
When it arises, it seems to get front and center, doesn’t it? It just takes over whatever you were thinking about, and suddenly, like bad news on TV, it makes headlines in your thoughts. On CNN they play the disaster over and over again on the screen, and you play out what you did “wrong” just as relentlessly.
It’s as if nothing else matters in that moment except feeling guilt or shame about whatever it was you think you did wrong or didn’t do well enough. A negative thought comes up, and for some reason, it’s much more compelling than the positive ones.
The Self-Empathy Chant
The following article is based upon principles from Nonviolent Communication (NVC), created by Marshall Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication. At the heart of NVC is the idea that all human beings share the same fundamental needs – whether for well-being, compassion, acceptance, understanding, physical well-being, rest, or play! The more we can connect with these fundamental “needs” and/or life energies in both our own inner dialogues and other people’s words, the more we naturally find compassion for ourselves and empathy for others, and the more we can let down our guard and find meaningful connection with friends, partners, and total strangers alike.
One of the dangers of taking on a practice with a name like “Nonviolent Communication” is that we may start to run an inner soundtrack that sounds something like, “You’re supposed to be nice, Marina … all the time… to everybody…” squirrels, dictators, and scowling meter maids alike. ”Be nice, don’t get mad, keep it in, and everybody will be fine.” “Nonviolent” can thus be heard as an order to “shut up,” to censor, to hide.
Meanwhile, we often resent ourselves for being puny and quiet, or resent the other for being a big, bad jerk, or both, and nobody’s heart gets seen in the process, which was, of course, the idea behind learning NVC in the first place.
Alright, so how do we get back to the heart, in a way that lets us be heard, for reals, without censorship, and without harming others?
Let ourselves have the “bad” feeling more. Let it move our bodies and our voices. Let ourselves scream it, shake it, dance it, jibberish it, and in the process, come back to our hearts. And when we find it, that place of tender longing in us, that place so long ignored that just wanted to be heard, lets cherish it, adore it, fall deeply in love with it, forgiving ourselves in the process for all the times we thought we were shameful for having needs, shameful for being alive, shameful for being human, shameful for wanting to be happy, wanting to thrive.
We’re not bad. It may seem like a shock (so often it does to me), but really, NVC underscores the idea that we’re human beings – with needs! Needs to be heard, to be understood, to be loved, to feel happy, to feel joy, to rest, to nourish and be nourished. Like precious flowers, sometimes decked out in big fancy armor, we just want to reach for the sun, and open to its light.
In the spirit of breaking the cycle of self-shaming and self-censorship, I invite you to try out the following:
Marina’s Self-Empathy Chant
Step 1: Notice how you’re feeling. And yell it! (Note, yelling can be done for reals out loud – highly recommended – or inside yourself.)
Example: I feel insecure! I feel insecure! I feel insecure!
Step 2: Notice what you’re needing, connected to that feeling. Yell it! (Same instruction as above).
Example: I want acceptance! I want to belong! I want to love myself as I am!
Step 3: Let yourself love, adore, and cherish your needs, and yell it!
Example: I love acceptance! I love getting to belong! I love loving myself as I am!
Step 4: Very important, don’t forget to unabashedly add a cheer – something along the lines of:
Yey yey yey! (Note, in the event this stimulates cheerleader trauma, one “yey” will suffice. Alternatively, “hell yeah” will work, too.)
Okay, let’s put it all together, albeit with another example:
I feel exhausted! I feel exhausted! I feel exhausted!
I want to rest! I want to care for my body! I want to nourish my body!
I love getting to rest! I love caring for my body! I love nourishing my body!
One more, ‘cuz this is so dang fun.
I feel pissed! I feel so pissed! I feel so friggin’ pissed!
I want to be seen! I want to be known! I want to be loved!
I love being seen! I love being known! I love being loved!
Yey yey yey!
Try this out, will ya? And let me know how it goes! What happens in your body? And in your spirit? How does this contribute, or not, to your sense of freedom in responding to one of life’s everyday challenges? I invite you to try it out, and share with me what you notice.
Marina Smerling is a former attorney who is here to launch a love bomb on the epidemic of shame in our world. She is a relationship coach, counselor, mediator, and emissary of love, drawing upon nearly a decade of practice in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to help us speak our truth with heart. She offers counseling and relationship coaching in Berkeley, CA and by Skype, and can be reached at www.shamelessheart.com.
Awakening Self Radio Show Schedule
This Month’s Show:
Theme: Healing the Harmful Thoughts
Sometimes, the inner critic gets the best of us, deluging us with hurtful thoughts that bring us down. But you don’t have to give in!
The mind is meant to be the servant, not the master. Your Divine Self is the one in charge, and it is always loving and compassionate. Learn how to compassionately embrace negative self-talk without buying into it – and identify with your Self, not the thoughts.
Last Month’s Show:
Theme: Let Go, Let God
Meditation is very much a process of letting go – releasing attachment to thoughts, sensations, and emotions. This is different than resisting, forcing, or denying; it is acknowledging, softening, and allowing these phenomena to flow through you to be offered up to the Divine. Learn to let go, opening to the Sacred present within you.
“How shall I grasp it?
Do not grasp it.
That which remains when there is no more grasping is the Self.”
“Allow the world to live as it chooses, and allow yourself to live as you choose.”
~ Richard Bach
“Among the great things which are to be found among us,
the being of nothingness is the greatest.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci