Nature is beautiful, and imperfect. Just like you.
This past week I had the opportunity to spend time on the coast of Oregon, and I was reminded of how nature is purely itself. Imperfections and all. It does not try to be "better". It does not worry that it is not good enough. It just does it's nature thing. Whether it is a tree, a flower, a bird, a river, a bug, an ocean--nature fully embodies itself.
If you follow me on social media, you might have seen me talk about this topic in my videos. I will post one for you here.
This week I want to invite you to be like nature. You are, after all, a part of the natural world. Take a moment to notice the beauty of imperfection all around you. And, like nature, allow yourself to be fully you.
You are perfect, and imperfect. You are just right.
With love and imperfection,
How many times have you said this, or some version of it, either out loud or in your head, in the past week? The past day? The past hour?
As women, we seem to apologize ALL THE TIME. And very often for things that are not our responsibility.
As I was walking my dog down the sidewalk the other day, I stooped down to pick up my dog’s…erm….doggie stuff…and as I did a man sped by me on a bicycle. I was taking up a good portion of the sidewalk, and the first thought in my head was “oh, sorry!” I had the immediate reaction that I was in the way, I was in the wrong, and I should apologize for taking up space. Almost as if I should apologize for existing in this man’s universe.
Then I paused. Wait a minute. I was on the sidewalk. As a pedestrian. If you know the regulations of bike riding, then you know that one is required to ride their bike on the road. Bikes are fast, I, with my two human legs, am much slower. I am allowed to be on the sidewalk. I am allowed to exist. And damn it, I am allowed to take up space. Why did I feel the need to apologize?
As women, we often take unnecessary responsibility for other people’s emotions, reactions, and expectations. We take on stuff that does not belong to us, and apologize for it. It is time to stop this.
Now I am not advocating for never saying “I’m sorry”. What I am suggesting is this: that it is high time that we get clear on what is our responsibility and what belongs to someone else.
And if it belongs to someone else, by all means DO NOT APOLOGIZE for it.
There is an evocative sketch by Amy Schumer where a panel of highly educated, successful women who all have major accomplishments on a grand scale continue to say sorry throughout the panel interview. They trip over themselves to apologize for things that need no apology or are not their responsibility. Finally, the sketch culminates in one woman getting bodily dismembered on the stage, and then apologizing for her wounds and the bloody mess she is making.
Yikes. We do this.
Today I invite you to gently begin to notice when you say “I’m sorry” and take a moment to pause. Check the situation out. Are you responsible for something? Did you do something that needs an apology? Or are you taking on the responsibility for something that is not yours?
Take the steps to free yourself from the “I’m sorrys”. Notice when you are apologizing for taking up space. Notice when you are apologizing for something that is not your responsibility. Notice when you are apologizing for someone else.
You are allowed to exist. You are allowed to take up space. You are allowed to let others hold the responsibility for their own stuff.
You are allowed to stop saying “I’m sorry.”
With love and imperfection,
You are not broken.
When the inner critic starts to hurl threats and insults at you, your brain responds as if it is literally being attacked. You brain believes that something is trying to harm you, and it sends your nervous system into high alert. Your body immediately shifts into fight, flight, or freeze mode and the rest of you responds accordingly. And your brain is right, something is trying to harm you.
But the attack is coming from WITHIN, not from without.
Often this will look like urges to run away or the sensation of being numb, feeling stuck, an increase in self-criticism, feelings of anxiety, difficulty with language, no confidence, no access to creativity, an expectation of something terrible happening, depression, release of cortisol (the stress hormone), fear, obsessive negative thoughts, and an inability to do your best.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
After reading my blog last week, a dear friend sent me this video. Watch as these photographers get a painful boost to their inner critics, that causes them to second guess their creativity and lose their confidence.
After watching the video I was inspired to write this blog and share with all of you about how the inner critic is perceived as a threat by the nervous system. This may help explain why you slip down into a negative spiral the moment you self-criticize—IF you do not interrupt the cycle.
In her book Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, Kristin Neff explains there is a remedy to this threat response. The remedy, she says, is self-compassion. I wrote about this last week, when I suggested that we simply be kind to ourselves, and I think it bears repeating.
Neff writes, “Painful feelings are, by their very nature, temporary. They will weaken over time as long as we don’t prolong or amplify them through resistance or avoidance. The only way to eventually free ourselves from debilitating pain, therefore, is to be with it as it is. The only way out is through.”
In other words, if you want to break the cycle of the inner critic, then you must acknowledge and validate your own feelings, be with what is, and give yourself love and compassion. The only way out is through.
When the mean and menacing thoughts pop up, remind yourself that your brain and body are responding to the inner critic as if it were a literal threat, and that the way to calm the threat is self-compassion, kindness, and understanding. Again, just like a child having a tantrum. Scolding, hatemongering, and more criticism will only amp up the problem.
Try this: next time you are able to notice that you are speaking harshly to yourself, simply pause, place your hand on your heart, and softly say, “I know you are struggling right now, and you are still okay. I love you”.
And simply notice what happens.
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What do you think? Let me know if this helps you! xo