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.
If you want more support on learning how to increase really love yourself and get your voice and your work out into the world, sign up for my mailing list.
I will soon be offering a special, affordable, private group with loads of techniques and tips to help you on your journey of self-love.
What do you think? Let me know if this helps you! xo
The cat’s out of the bag. I am going to let you in on a huge secret.
You can feel calmer, more centered, and more grounded right this minute.
Want to know how?
Be nice to yourself.
Yep. That’s it. Just. Be. Nice.
If you are anything like me, you inundate yourself with critical talk and downright meanness all day long. My critic sounds something like this: You could have done this better, you messed that up, why aren’t you getting x, y, and z done like you are supposed to…blah blah blah. The critic is often on high alert, on the lookout for anything that it can sink it’s grumpy ol’ teeth into.
But the critic can be calmed.
Many years ago, I read the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. In the forward, she describes how she came across the idea of being your own best friend. When I read her words, and thought about this idea, it was like a lightbulb went on in my head. I had a major change in perspective. What if I acted like my own best friend instead of some angry Dickensian school marm ready to take a cane to my own wrists?
I tried this idea on for size, and it slowly began to change my inner landscape. Although the critic still pops in more often than I would like, I now practice (and it is a practice) being my own best friend. What that looks like for me is allowing myself to have feelings, notice my feelings, and validate my feelings. It means acknowledging when I feel overwhelmed, allowing myself to take breaks, and trusting that I don’t have to have it all figured out. It means I get to use my voice and be seen and heard even if I am not perfect. And I don’t berate myself when I slip back into critical mode.
Now I like to think of my critical part as a child that has been put in charge and just doesn’t know how to run the show. Because she’s a CHILD. When I see this part of me in this way, it radically changes my perspective. Instead of a scary intimidating monster, I see my critic for what she really is—a scared part of me that is trying to keep me safe from harm. The more I can acknowledge her feelings, let her know everything will be ok, and tell her that no one is going to get in trouble, the more she can relax and calm down, and the nicer I can be to myself.
What does being your own best friend look like for you? Would you like to practice being nicer to yourself? Try it right now. Go on, sweet talk yourself a little. Say something kind. Watch what happens.
Writing my first blog post, I am struggling. I have been planning to write for weeks, but something gets in the way. Something that tells me that I can't write well enough, that no one will be interested in reading my words, and that in order to put myself out there it must be. . . exceptional.
These thoughts infiltrate my mind and cause me to sidestep the effort it takes to just sit down and begin typing. Suddenly washing the dishes seems vitally important, or I simply must check the status of my last facebook post, or golly, I think I need a snack.
Amidst this cacophony of criticism and avoidance clanging around inside, there is also a gentle lullaby, softly crooning in the background. I hear the words of Leonard Coen, like a tender gift from the Universe: "Forget your perfect offering."
"Forget your perfect offering".
Wait. What?! Forget my perfect offering and just get some words on the page, without struggling and agonizing that everything I say will be inadequate, judged, and found lacking? How absurd! I'm not sure I can do that.
But I pause again, and listen. And I listen some more. I let this idea sink into my being. I wonder, what if my words were good enough, even without being exceptional. What if I could allow my writing to be seen and witnessed, even if it is mediocre and imperfect. After all, isn't that my message? Embrace imperfections? Who am I to teach radical self-love if I can't practice putting myself out there, in all my imperfect glory?
If I want to inspire others to take a leap into being visible, then I must do the same, consistently.
So today, dear ones, I am writing. I will forget my perfect offering, and just offer. With my heart open and my hands outstretched, I offer myself to you, imperfections and all.