Befriending Ourselves – how to be more compassionate with ourselves

Our inner critic is loud and bossy. Have you ever stopped to listen to it?

“What did I do that for? I’m such an idiot!”

“I’m so fat!”

“I’ll never make anything of my life!”

“Why does this always happen to me?”

“I’ll never get this right!”

This inner critical voice has been with us since very early in our lives. It’s our most consistent companion. Maybe you’ve tried to change it with positive affirmation statements or to silence it through meditation, but it’s very hard to fool yourself or to shut this voice down and despite all your efforts, the inner critic is loud and clear and bossy as ever: “Yeah right! As if!” So you check to see if it’s 5pm yet: “Surely it’s time for my evening glass of wine!” or you reach for some chocolate or cake or some other comfort food and get lost in Facebook for a while. It’s much easier to numb.

What if you really started listening to this voice and what it has to say? What if you put on a different set of ears and listen through the negativity and criticism to what is really being expressed?
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Turning towards

turning towards

Saturday night. Both kids went on a sleepover. We had the night to ourselves. This is good practice for when we become empty nesters, I thought. We decided to have a bath and started to talk about a novel that we’d both been listening to. Somehow the conversation turned to the kids and his concern about the kids having a life of too much play and not enough structure.  

Many times I heard criticism. Many times, I heard messages of “You’re not …. enough” “You’re too….”. That isn’t what he said, but with a strong inner critic who is quick to hear blame and criticism that is what I heard. This time, I took a breath and I remembered.

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Peanut brain

Copyright: nailiaschwarz / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: nailiaschwarz / 123RF Stock Photo

This week, listening to a wonderful interview with brain scientist Dr Jill Bolte-Taylor,  I learnt that our thoughts all originate from a cluster of cells in our left hemisphere which are the size of a peanut. It is our thoughts that trigger our feelings and make us unhappy.

“She ignored me!”, “He’s being selfish!”, “I’m not good enough”, etc.  Our peanut brain has a thought and this triggers a feeling. At this point we have a choice…. to feed the feeling (fan the fire) with further thoughts or recognise, allow, accept and empathise. Continue reading