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.