Pause to Ponder

things of the heart croppedA quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh regarding the challenges of balance in a woman’s life.

“With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Taking the time to read this passage is one way to find some stillness at the hub of the wheel. Savor it!

 

14 Nov 2013

Birth of the Inner Critic

Gremlin SquashedLast week I wrote about that inner critic who sits in our head and screams about everything we do wrong. We all have one. Some critics are tamer than others. Some critics are downright abusive. But most of us can agree that it’s there. So what is it and how did it get there?

We come in to this world whole and unscathed. But at some point in our childhood there occurs a heartbreak. The first of many. This is unavoidable. It is part of the human condition. It can happen through a single event or through an accumulation of events. We can be hurt through physical or emotional abuse or through the teasing of siblings or peers. It could happen at home with our family or out in the community. But, it happens. At some point we get the message that who we are is not ok. Or that at least some part of us is unacceptable.

It is at that point that the critic is born.

There is a part of us that is determined to stop this heartbreak from happening again. It becomes a policeman or an over-protective parent. It monitors our behavior. It keeps us hidden in order to keep us safe. It tries to control us in order to protect us from ridicule, rejection or abuse.

So the critic, then, is actually trying to help us.

The problem is that sometimes this critic becomes too powerful. And too big. And too mean. Sometimes that internal voice does us more harm than good. It cripples our confidence and interferes with our growth and development. It uses harsh, abusive words. It needs some serious sensitivity training!

So what is one to do? The first step in managing the critic is to notice it. Without judgment. Without agenda. Just notice it. Study it. Notice when it is most active. What words does it use? What does it try to protect you from? Just watch it. Be curious about it – like an anthropologist studying human behavior. And remember. You do not have to believe what it says. I’ll repeat that (again and again…). You do not have to believe what it says.

In the coming weeks I will write more about the inner critic as well as some of the other voices you may notice inside your head. If you can have an inner critic, why not an inner cheerleader? Or an internal wise old woman. And of course there is the inner child (No. I’m not trying to give you all multiple personalities! This is all perfectly normal, I promise!). It’s fun to get to know yourself in this way. Take this journey with me!

First Published 2011

 

12 Nov 2013

Inner Gremlins – Which Voice Are You Listening To?

Tantrum GremlinOur minds are filled with chatter most of the time. There are thoughts running around in there all day long. Sometimes we are tuned in to the noise. Sometimes we’re not. But unless we are 100% focused on our current activity, chances are we are thinking about something. And those thoughts have a profound effect on our emotional well-being.

One of the first things I do with clients in my therapy practice is to “out the critic.” That is to say, I call attention to that negative voice inside your head that comments on everything you do. You know the one. It’s the one that says “I can’t believe you just said that. You are so stupid!” or “Don’t do that. You’ll make a fool of yourself.” Or “You will never get it right…” Usually there is no end to the miserable things it has to say.

But here’s the thing… Are you ready for this?… It’s profound…

You don’t have to believe it.

Did you hear that? You don’t have to believe it. It doesn’t speak the truth. In future posts I will write about where this voice comes from and what its function is. But for now, suffice it to say that you do not have to believe what it says about you.

The next time you hear that voice inside your head saying mean things about you, just notice it. Say to yourself “Hmm. There’s that mean voice inside my head again.” That’s it. Just notice it. Don’t judge it. Don’t try to make it go away. By all means, don’t beat yourself up about it (it would be totally unfair to give the critic one more thing to be critical about!). Just notice it and remind yourself that it doesn’t speak the truth. That alone can make a difference in how you feel.

First Published 2011

08 Nov 2013

Pause to Ponder

“I am only one.

But still, I am one.

I cannot do everything,

But still, I can do something.

And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

~Edward Everett Hale
What one thing will you do today to make a difference?

07 Nov 2013

Make Them Laugh

calvinhobbes_laughingQuestion: What do you call a cow that can’t give milk?

Answer: A milk dud.

 

Question: What do you call a lazy kangaroo?

Answer:  A pouch potato

07 Nov 2013

Pause to Ponder

things of the heart cropped“If women were convinced that a day off or an hour of solitude was a reasonable ambition, they would find a way of attaining it.  As it is, they feel so unjustified in their demand that they rarely make the attempt…The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone…Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone.  The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.  But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves:  that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships.  She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as ‘the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still’…This is an end toward which we could strive – to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations and activities…The problem is how to still the soul in the midst of its activities.  In fact, the problem is how to feed the soul.” 

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

07 Nov 2013

Don’t Let Perfectionism Ruin the Holidays

MC900439764[1]How is your “to do” list looking? I’ve been crossing things off mine – not because they’re completed, but because I’ve decided some things just won’t get done this year. My excuse is that we will be leaving town in a week, so our holiday season at home is truncated. We have a Christmas tree, holiday music, and some greenery. But no exterior lights on our house this year. No holiday hand towels in the bathroom or tea towels in the kitchen. I have not sent Christmas cards yet, but I still hope to complete those. However if I don’t, it’s ok. I can let people know I appreciate them in other ways, all year long.

So, how are you doing? Do you need to cross some things off your list too? We all want Christmas to be special for our families. But sometimes we lose sight of what is important.

Perfectionism can ruin the holidays. Trying to have the perfect holiday dinner, the perfect Christmas tree, the perfect family picture, the perfect gift for everyone on your list….only leads to stress, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Stressed-out Mom does not make for happy holiday memories. So stop trying for perfect and settle instead for “good enough.”

A “good enough” Christmas is one where you do what you can and let go of the rest. A few decorations and some holiday music provide a wonderful backdrop for a family gathering. Make one batch of cookies with your kids, not twenty. Send a few Christmas cards, not a hundred. Your children will not remember how beautiful your perfectly roasted turkey was. They may not even remember the gifts they got this particular year. But they will remember the feeling of joy that comes from happy times with their family.

Here are just a few of the things I remember from my childhood holidays:
  • The smell of hot apple cider
  • The feel of buttered hands and hot caramel while making popcorn balls
  • Skating with my dad
  • Cold toes and nose after sledding
  • Being allowed to stay up way past my bedtime in order to go to the candle light Christmas Eve service
  • Putting red and green garnishes on my Moms Christmas wreath shortbread cookies
  • Singing Christmas carols around the piano
  • Making special gifts (the kind only a mother – or a best friend could love)

What are your best memories of the holidays? What memories are you creating with your kids this year? I hope your season is filled with good smells, happy sounds and plenty of love and light!

 

First Published 2009

 

07 Nov 2013

How Well Do You Tolerate Pain?

bandaidI have a high tolerance for pain. I’ve always been proud of my ability to plow through discomfort in order to get a job done. It makes me feel “tough” and “independent.” It’s also frequently required of a mother. We all know that the world doesn’t stop when we get sick or injured. We must still get our kids to school, prepare meals and do laundry.

However, my resolute “toughness” was recently called into question. My back gives me trouble now and then. At its worst I am unable to move without significant pain. Other times it is a nagging jab that restricts my movement but is tolerable. I was chatting with a friend a while ago and mentioned that my back had been bothering me for a few days. She suggested I see someone about it.
“Oh, no.” I replied. “It’s not that bad. I can still walk.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone. Then with a hint of sarcasm in her voice she said “Yes Carrie. You should definitely wait until you can’t walk before you do something about it.”
Hmmm. At what point does strength and self-reliance become just plain stubbornness? You see, pain exists for a reason. Pain is our body’s way of telling our brain to “make a change – and make it fast.” It lets us know that something is wrong. If we ignore it, bad things can happen.
Emotional pain works the same way. Chronic negative emotions, like anger, fear and sadness, are symptoms that something is amiss. We can think of them as a “check engine” light that lets us know it’s time for a “tune-up.” And, just like ignoring physical pain can lead to more serious physical problems, ignoring emotional pain can also lead to bigger concerns.
So, what about you? Do you need a tune-up to keep things running smoothly in your life? Don’t ignore the problems and “tough it out.” Make your well-being a priority now and avoid bigger issues down the road.

 

First Published 2010

07 Nov 2013

Whimsical Wisdom

Girl with dandelionHow Many, How Much
How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live ‘em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give ‘em.
~Shel Silverstein
Live well today and love much!

07 Nov 2013

Pause to Ponder

things of the heart croppedNothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

~Robert Frost

 

What current bliss do you want to savor before it transforms into something different?

 

 

07 Nov 2013