How to Get Those Haters to Help You Grow

We all have a voice in our head that is critical, judgmental, and disapproving of ourselves. Rarely does it ever champion you onward or applaud you for good work. Typically it sounds like the voice of one of your biggest haters.
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Now, that voice can be soft and it can be loud and sometimes we choose not to listen.  We may hear it in specific situations (triggers) or with specific people. Sometimes, however, that inner voice is constantly giving us unsolicited commentary and incessant chatter, becoming part of what Buddhists would call our Monkey Mind.
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When you begin to listen to your inner critic what you will hear is a voice with messages composed of ideas, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that try to manage your experience by telling you when we’re doing something right or wrong.
But this morning, I had an idea. It was inspired by a book that I am reading, Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul.
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The inner critic is acquired and internalized as young children and as we grow, and it continues to develop throughout our lives. Read more on GoodTherapy.org.
My idea involved listening to my inner critic because I wondered if she has some valuable things to share. Not everything, but maybe some pearls of wisdom to help me grow.
For example –
Voice of my inner critic (sometimes my mother, father or grandmother):
You are rushing and your work is so sloppy.
My interpretation:    Maybe I should slow down and pay attention to the details?
My inner critic (my daughter Aja):
Your voice is so annoying. You sound so bossy and bitchy.
Translate to:     Why don’t I slow my speech and soften my tone a bit so others are more responsive?
Inner Critic (my bat-shit crazy ex): You’re too serious and intense for people. You’re no fun.
Well, how about I lighten up a bit and stop trying to control everything around me?
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with what the critic says all the time. Accepting it doesn’t mean taking on its criticism. Embracing it doesn’t mean believing that its judgments are fair or accurate.
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Art by @brookeshaden

Opportunities to Seize vs. Temptations to Resist

Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

 

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What if I make the wrong one?

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” 
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” 
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?

– Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

 

The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available.  Examples of overchoice include college options, career options, and prospective romantic relationships.  Many increased by technology. In today’s world, we have easy access to more of everything at our fingertips.

Overcoming That Overwhelming Feeling

It helps to remember your final destination. Where have you set your sites? Your goals?

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Recalling your dreams helps to distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.

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“If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.”

 

Featured image by  Remedios

Surreal Horses

Girl with Binoculars by Bernie Fuchs

Why Keeping an Open Mind and Heart is The Healthiest Thing You Can Do

Having had my fair share of stressful and painful experiences, I am intrigued by studies that explain how negative emotions manifest as physical pain in our bodies. I am specifically interested in the role of stress and the condition of our heart because even though our heart governs most of our decision making, we truly take for granted one of the most magnificent masterpieces of creation.

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A New Type of Heart Attack in this article from Harvard’s Heart Health Newsletter.

Most heart attacks are due to coronary arteries being blocked by blood clots that form when plaques of cholesterol rupture. The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in heart muscle dying — hence the name “heart attack.”

But over the past few years, physicians have come to recognize and better understand another form of heart attack. This unusual type of heart attack does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels. It is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” because during this disorder, the heart takes on a distinctive shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. The disorder was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and to be far less harmful than a typical heart attack. For that reason, some had also labeled this condition “broken-heart syndrome.”

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Purifying Your Heart

In the yogic tradition, so-called heart blockages are caused by unfinished and unprocessed emotions. They call this energy, Samskara, which in Sanskrit means “impression”. You know, the things that make either a good impression or bad on us that we can’t seem to get “over” – those things that cause our mind to ruminate on horrible or remarkable experiences that have happened to us. The heart and mind playing an important role in making us feel inspired and loving or apathetic and victimized.

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Our heart is an instrument made of extremely subtle energy that few of us come to really appreciate. The heart’s energy flow (referred to as Shakti, Spirit or Chi) plays a very important part of our lives and experiences.

The heart controls our energy by closing and opening. For example, you can experience great feelings of love for someone until they say something negative towards you. Vascilating between open-hearted and closed. For deeper reading on The Secrets of The Spiritual Heart, a chapter of the book I have now read five times, I recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.

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So science is also demonstrating that volatile emotions like anger and hostility are bad for heart health. But studies have shown that some of the quieter emotions can be just as toxic and damaging.

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“Study after study has shown that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are many times more likely to get sick and die prematurely – not only of heart disease but from virtually all causes – than those who have a sense of connection, love and community,” Dean Ornish, MD, tells WebMD.

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Author Michael Singer explains that we have spent a lifetime of storing up unresolved conflicts which can lead to a heart that is shut down and closed for business. But all is not lost. We have a choice.

We can simply allow the experiences of life, whatever we label as good and/or bad — from falling madly in love to experiencing the death of a loved one —  yes, just simply allow those experiences to move right through us.

Will they be joyful and painful experiences? Yes. But the clinging and resisting and wrestling you do with these emotions will no longer distract you from living fully in the moment with an open mind and heart.

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

Art by Turkish artist and graphic designer Aykut Aydogdu, based in Istanbul.

The indomitable will of our soul burns on even during the downward spiral of our destiny.

 

What Makes Life So Damn Complicated

You.
You make life complicated.
You think you’re so important.
You want it your way, or no way.
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You have a choice right now. A choice that can change everything. You can continue to choose to push against reality and struggle with it or you can choose to move with the world and use that energy to create something new.
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Use the forces you have within your power your strength, courage, and conviction.
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You always have something within your reach.
Today it may as simple your smile, but the energy of a smile can light up a room and lift spirits.
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Life is not complicated at all. We make it that way.
It’s when we behave selfishly.
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Take advantage of every moment that presents itself as an opportunity to be kind, compassionate and easy to be with today.
And if for some reason you don’t have the bandwidth for that, then do no harm.
How can we uncomplicate things today?
Be the missing ingredient.  The one to soothe each situation and to raise the vibes. Be the listener, the lover, the mender, the healer and the bigger person with a generous heart.
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Read The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

 

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Artwork by Peter Beard.

He married a supermodel, photographed rock stars and came from a wealthy family.  Easy on the eyes too.

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Peter Hill Beard is an American artist, photographerdiarist and writer who lives and works in New York City and Kenya. His photographs of Africa, African animals and the journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published since the 1960s.

The Audacity to Act on Your Dreams and Learning to Trust Yourself

Today’s thought is about the many ways we disappoint ourselves when we say we will do one thing and then do the exact opposite, or maybe, we do nothing at all.
A lack or slack in self-trust can be a very dangerous and stagnating trait to have because it keeps us stuck.
How does the lack of self-trust show up in our lives? Well, sometimes we fantasize about the future to escape the present.
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It’s when fantasy becomes fact in our minds that we begin not to believe or trust ourselves anymore.  This lack of self-trust becomes a black hole that consumes our self-respect.
But how does this happen? A 16-minute read from Mark Manson that will kinda blow your mind about what self-trust means.
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There is no one behavior that will permit you to suddenly trust yourself.  However, a collection of small actions over time will alchemize and inspire an improved sense of trust.
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No. 1 Don’t deceive yourself. See things as they are, not how you wish they would be. As hard as this is, it’s gravely important, less you desire to be repeating  “why didn’t I see that coming?So often we ignore the truth for the lies we prefer.

No. 2 Speaking of repetitive behavior, never repeat the same mistake. Once repeated it’s not a mistake, it’s a damn decision.  Write that mistake down, make it a part of your mantra, tattoo it on your arm, just remember it deeply and move on. Whether that is a person you need to let go of, something you must apologize for or something you did that really hurt another.
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No. 3 Explore. So often, we think we are stuck where we are and we convince ourselves that this is the best place we could be because we are just ignorant of what lies beyond our sites. Get out there, adventure something bigger than what you have right now.
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No. 4. Face the truth. What is your life really like right now? Work with what you have and try something, using what you have, to propel yourself into action. You will astonish yourself when you see how creative you can be.
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No. 5. Tell yourself the truth and speak the truth to all. Do not underestimate the raw power of choosing to be honest in both word and action with everyone including yourself.

No. 6. Do not lie or conceal anything to protect others, no matter how tempting, no matter how little and white or and no matter how small. Tiny lies will eat away at you. You are not “protecting” anyone, including yourself. Speak the truth to your friends, family, and colleagues. It is amazingly refreshing and what the world needs.
No. 7. Do something good, no matter how small, for yourself each day. For one hour a day put yourself first.  Sign up for that class, go for a hike, read that book, write that poem, learn that dance, try that new meal you have been wanting to prepare. Carve out that time for you and no one else.
No. 8. Working towards a goal? a dream? Do something today to move you closer to it and catch yourself quickly if you fall prey to extensive planning and research. That is not moving towards the goal and is a symptom of not trusting yourself. Act, don’t just dream.
No. 9. When trying to make a decision, understand that there is more than one answer, so when figuring out your problem, think of few solutions, and choose the one that resonates and most appeals to you.  Sure it might not be the best solution, but you must get used to making decisions regardless.
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No. 10 Keep small promises to yourself today and please don’t set yourself up for disappointment – take the pressure off – put less on your list. Do the most important and a few of the little things.
No. 11 Take a good look in the mirror. Watch how you talk to yourself inside your head all day. Are you an enemy or a friend?  Be a good friend to you.
No. 12. Trust in your own direct experience, just because someone said on the internet that something is good for you, doesn’t mean it is good for YOU.
No. 13. When considering other people’s advice and opinions, ask yourself, “Do I want to be like this person? If the answer is yes, give their perspective more weight than if the answer is no. If the answer is no and you still take their advice seriously, you are signaling to yourself to trust people you don’t admire more than you trust yourself.
No. 14. Give yourself permission today to freely act on your own truth, logic, and intuition and open your mind to new ideas. Do as James Altucher recommends and keep a log of 10 new ideas a day.  They don’t all have to be good, they just have to be new.
No. 15.  Do not allow yourself to consume bad-tasting conversation or sugar-loaded condiments disguised as delicious and nutritious health foods. Anything you consume should be real, honest and true, so be aware of who you surround yourself with and the habits and meals they bring to the table.
No. 16.  Feel your way to self-trust.

“As we learn to recognize and understand the body’s subtle sensations, and then act on them, our self-trust will grow tremendously. To me it is rather amazing that the body has this innate sense of the truth, as if the body is hardwired for it,” states psychotherapist John Prendergast Ph.D.

Read more here @thoughtcatalog

Begin to sense your surroundings and the people in your line of site with more than your mind. When you are anywhere, begin to feel the energy around you. Get to know yourself better and become aware of how you feel, sensations that arise including smells, tastes, and sounds when you meet someone. Don’t just use your brain.  Using other senses helps you to become more aware of what triggers you and either builds self-trust or breaks it down.
No. 17 Use tools and technology to help you trust yourself.  Here are six wearable devices to track your stress levels and emotions.
Wearable technology already can tell you about your heart rate, sleep patterns, health habits and breathing patterns; all of which can provide just as much insight into your emotional state as your physical state. For example, one Fitbit wearer discovered his device recorded the moment of his breakup. His heart rate soared at the bad news and stayed elevated for the rest of the day as he dealt with the sadness and heartache, showing how closely his emotions affected his physical state. But now, more wearables on the market are designed specifically to monitor your feelings, not just your physical state. These devices work by measuring everything from breathing and heart rate to speech patterns and brainwaves. Armed with information, you learn to recognize your emotional states and learn how to soothe your reactions and control your responses.
More on how to begin to trust yourself from @zenhabits
Art by surreal photos by @Rayda_ealvay, a 19-year-old self-taught photographer, retoucher, and artist based in Perm, Russia. Rayda manipulates her self-portraits into surrealist explorations of identity, emotions, and dreams.

Giving The Day Wings

You know you need to repair your routine when you start the day all full of fire that burns out faster than a stick of Palo Santo by 11 am. Nothing is going to change if you don’t. Yes you are on a track, but is it the best track? The one that will propel you forward to expand your awareness? To elevate your consciousness? To move you further towards the life of your dreams.

Doing the day a little differently will help curb the habits that are holding you back.

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Build Morning Inspiration & Motivation

You know what I am talking about. You’ve journaled, meditated, gone to the gym, consumed something healthy and you’ve created a “to do” list – you’ve set some goals for the day and then bam, hello, it’s 1 pm and you’ve done everything but what you set out to do.

Frustrated, the best advice is to become more open to being blown off course. Why? Perhaps the course you are choosing isn’t the one you are suppose to be on. Moving through our days a bit more loosely will also remove the limitations we begin with when we try to define the day in it’s entirety.

Where to start? Your true life starts when you remove the mask.  A poem by Shel Silverstein

8. UNDERFACE (Every Thing On It)

Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me

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Masks by Richard Jonkman

Fuel Your Focus with a Mid Day Reset

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Take a pause, gain some perspective. Is this really the day you intended? Recognize the obstacles. Where are you procrastinating? How is your body disconnected from your mind’s desires? How is your thinking trapped in a tunnel?

Haruki Murakami // “What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world.”

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Ethan Hawke // “Pay attention: what you need to know is usually in front of you. There are no secrets, just things people choose not to notice.”

Wind down Wonderfully for Rest & Recovery

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Develop a wind down ritual. Examine the day and explore the darker regions of your heart.  What could have been addressed by a better version of you?

Frida Kahlo // “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

 

 

Seeking What Makes Us Feel Calm & Confident

I was thinking today about how it feels to be continually thrown off balance. To be provoked and manipulated by others, especially those that are harder-to-handle.  I was wondering how it is we can become reactive to every annoying thing that is thrown our way and what we need to do to remain composed in the face of unreasonableness. How we can train ourselves to cultivate an inner calm beyond meditation. How we can feel more centered and even more balanced, maybe top that off with a deeper faith and confidence in ourselves and humanity, and ultimately feel downright comfortable in our own skin.
When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit. 
All day today, I thought about what makes us feel that we are all right with the world. What connects us with the wiser part of ourselves and what activities bring us the necessary strength to deal with the chaotic and the craziness that every day daily living can conjure up.  I look at these activities as the stamps in our passports to getting our own power back.
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They are the things we do to help strengthen us and stay balanced when life knocks us around. When we are beaten and busted and feeling agitated and disgusted. When we are overwhelmingly frustrated.
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A part of seeking what makes us feel strong is deciding the places and spaces and situations we put ourselves in order to build back that serenity and peace and stillness that keeps us sane.
I believe it is our responsibility to seek what makes us strong. I think it’s easier to do if we begin by relinquishing control of what we cannot possibly change.
One of the most rewarding moments in life is when you finally find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.
So what do we do to travel back home, to comfort ourselves, to relieve that pain and suffering brought on by this daily struggle called living.
Things we do to be present to our own selves. To show up for ourselves. Praying in church, meditating in the morning, running in the rain, crunching and squatting at the gym, journaling for ourselves,  browsing through a book store, enjoying coffee and croissants with friends, a long walk by the water. . .
We start by carving out some time for ourselves.
Seeking what brings us back to center gives us a sense of control, a boost of needed energy and a dose of self love that keeps us sustained and encouraged to keep the party moving forward.
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A healthy practice to embrace, we have become use to a low-level of generalized anxiety and confusion as we navigate our daily lives. We are so entrenched in the movement of go, go, go that we don’t even acknowledge how revved up and in knots our spirit and our essence has become.
Of course we are more reactionary when we lose ourselves in the daily nonsense and bull shit of life.
While turning inward can be helpful to touch the peace you oh so need, I also believe it is the activities we do, the places we choose to go and the people we decide get our attention that also activate and/or deactivate our inner peace.
We must seek more pleasurable moments. First we must identify how many we are having in a day.
Inspired by “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham.
Cheryl Richardson: Personal Growth: How to Give Yourself a Radical Upgrade
on The James Altucher Show.
Joe Dispensa – guided meditations
artwork by Barbara Kruger
 
I am experimenting with capturing the art of daily living on camera while creating short shorts that emotionally resonate on some level in your mind and heart.

On Improving Oneself

We aren’t real enough with others about who we are.

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We don’t laugh enough.

We hold on too tight.

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We complicate things.

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We make too many fear-based decisions.

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We constantly defend ourselves, even when we shouldn’t.

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Our lives could be so much easier if we would just quiet down our own minds.

Reading: The Untethered Soul.

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Artwork by Richard Kirk.

Seriously Good Questions to Help Free Your Soul

To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.  

Dalai Lama

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I’m listening for the unknown in the silence.  For my inner guidance system to tell me what to do.
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Inspired by Tim O’Reilly and his explanation on the process he goes through when considering important decisions. How he waits for better answers in the unknown.
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Instead of following the Argyris Ladder of Influence. The Ladder of Inference describes the thinking process that we go through, usually without realizing it, to get from a fact to a decision or action. … Draw conclusions based on the interpreted facts and our assumptions while developing beliefs based on these conclusions.
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Learning more about the Structural Differential (a physical chart or three-dimensional model illustrating the abstracting processes of the human nervous system) helps to understand why we should remain curious about the unknown instead of formulating answers based on old beliefs.
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What must I let die today? What most go, in order for me to love more deeply? To live more intently? To embrace life more purposely?

Kill List
1. That I am not a perfect fit for the world.
2. That I’m not enough, that I need to be more of anything.
3. That I am lost and disconnected.
4. That I must wear this heavy armor and use my tongue as my sword.
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What am I hesitant in doing?

1. Being more thoughtful and patience with myself and others.
2. Picking one path – oh, it might be a mistake. I make get caught looking stupid, feeling vulnerable and terribly exposed.
3. Speaking my whole truth. The damn truth and nothing but the fucking truth.
4. Creating a life I really want to live.
5. Becoming more loving – the real kind of loving – the unconditional kind.
6. Letting go of the pain of my past.
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What should continue to live? And what life am I afraid to give birth to today?

  1. More of my curiosity about everything.
  2. Trusting where love takes me.
  3. Exploring the lush but uncharted territory of this world.
  4. Listening deeply with a more loving and tender heart.
  5. My deep desire to connect with others.
  6. More leaning on the cheek of god, doing things that expand my mind and conscience.
  7. Allowing my heart to break open –  a vast and oceanic heart.
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Something to think about.  A new perspective on sparking more joy in your life.
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I use to wake up each morning wondering “What if?” My mind blown with anxiety.
What if he leaves me? What if I can’t contribute? What if I become ill? What if the world should end?
Now, I wake up each morning and change that “What if?” to acceptance and gratitude for
“What is.” Simply, What is. 
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Self-Abandonment, Sitting with Painful Emotions & Some Damn Good reasons for Building Self-Trust

I was seeking the truth about why my words contradicted my actions.  Why my good intentions were backfiring.  Why I would say “I want to achieve this and I want to achieve that” all day long- but I never really met my goals head on. I got some half-assed results.  Whether it was ” I will never let anyone treat me like that again,” as I jumped into bed with my ex or “I’m not eating another piece of fattening bread again,” as I smeared a slab of butter on the dinner roll.  Contradicting myself all the time.  Oh to be human.

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I would set myself up each day for success, at least in in my mind, but by dinner time, I was right back where I started, sometimes even worse off.  Self-sabotage.  Overpromising too many people, including myself and underdelivering and setting myself up for failure.

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It came to the point where I just couldn’t trust myself at all any more. I’d say things to myself like  “I’ll start saving money soon,”  as I continued to rack up my credit cards at my favorite boutiques, restaurants and cafes.

I’m working on building my trust back. Honestly, how can you trust anyone else if you don’t trust yourself?

Read: 21 Signs You Don’t Trust Yourself

Pains

Trusting yourself is what builds confidence. On the other hand, NOT trusting yourself, because you are lying to yourself, is what leads to self doubt and ultimately painful emotions. And you know how we don’t like to feel those.

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

Trusting Only The Good Parts of Ourselves

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Personally, I have found that self-trust starts with self-forgiveness and taking the time to understand why we are so self-deceptive. I took sometime to think back on all the terrible, selfish and thoughtless things I have done to myself and to others throughout my life.  Then I read the list. God that was hard. Then I waited a day and thought about more bad things that I did and added to the list. Oh, to take a good look into the guiltiness of it all. It was so damn painful. The crazy thing is – I would write down something I remembered that I did that hurt someone and then I WOULD MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR WHY I DID IT. Really??

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The point I am trying to make here is that we can’t just trust some parts of of ourselves. Like the good parts with the good emotions. We have to trust our whole entire being. The good, the bad and the ugly.  This starts by not abandoning yourself.  You abandon yourself every time you don’t allow yourself to be completely honest, feel badly and sit with some of the pain and sadness you have brought to your own life.  Don’t dwell there, just become more aware.

“Self trust is the essence of heroism.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units — because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden