Join me in the magical meditation tipi for a discussion on how to release your resistance to loving yourself – plus a short guided process to bring in greater self-love.
We all have qualities we keep in the shadows, but what if shining light onto these darker aspects could actually make life better?
If we want to feel more peaceful and complete, then we’ll want to know more about these parts we’re not owning.
The way we discover what they are, is to observe what bothers us about other people, particularly the people we love.
The qualities we demonise in others are our shadow qualities.
Allow me a moment to explain:
Might you sometimes be heard whingeing that your partner, child, sibling or dear friend is negative/lazy/ unmotivated/self-centred or any other quality you despise?
Yes? Come on, think about it. Mmhmm – maybe just a little?
Let’s just say we all have ‘issues’ with certain qualities – for me it’s things like anger, martyrdom, competitiveness and ungratefulness.
It’s understandable to dislike these nasty old traits right?
Except for this….
What’s true is that we ALL have the capacity to embody every quality that’s ever existed.
But rather than loving it ALL, what we do with the parts that give us a squeamish feeling is to deny them, project them onto other people and cover them over with niceness and approval seeking.
To examine the qualities we dislike in others is to look directly into a reflection of what we ARE but don’t want to own. The question we must ask when we feel ourselves bristling at the behaviour of another is: “How do I do that?”
And this is where compassion comes in. Compassion for yourself and compassion for everyone else because gosh aren’t we all just muddling along the very best we can?
The shadow aspects we’re most afraid of might actually become super-powers if we learn how to integrate them and shed a decent amount of light on them.
Let’s take the quality of competitive drive and have a closer look.
I denied this aspect of myself for the longest time but here’s how I know I’m competitive:
The funny thing is, now that I’ve began to lovingly embrace this quality and see it as funny and adorable rather than nasty and shameful, it’s softened.
And I can use this competitive drive of mine to get things done! If I didn’t care at all about striving for a better life, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to become self-employed. And that would’ve been a pity because I love my work and I’ve already helped quite a few people.
Do you see where I’m going with this? By shining light on our shadow qualities we get to benefit from their good bits and allow them to partner with our so-called positive qualities for great outcomes.
Hide them away and they become bitter and destructive. Embrace them as vital elements of our humanity and they become another playful and productive part of who we are.
Angry people make great activists and campaigners for social change and martyrs make great community volunteers, even if they do make others miserable with their bitter complaints…
What’s your shadow?
Are you willing to acknowledge it and lead it into the light?
For help with this and other brands of self-exploration contact me for a session. Click here.
To be soft, yielding, gentle, quiet, accepting, open, innocent, trusting….
They’re not qualities we value so much these days.
Our culture seems to value their opposites – tough, strong, critical, resilient, decisive, assertive, cynical and street-wise. It’s the yin and yang, the feminine and masculine at their extremes.
Because of course we can be soft and strong, quiet and assertive, gentle and tough.
Yes indeed. Think of a rose – soft and delicate petals with tough leaves and strong, thorn-laden stems. Nature at its most wondrous.
I feel we’ve forgotten the value of softness.
Softness is love, warmth, praise, compassion, open-mindedness, trust, vulnerability, acceptance, appreciation…
Just think about it, when you’re with your family, is the mood one of softness or hardness? Could there be a softening? Would it feel better? Would it allow more love in?
When I’m quick to assert an opinion, make a judgement, defend myself or speak without really listening, I’m not adding a loving presence. I’m certainly not bonding more closely with the people I love. If anything, I’m holding them at a distance.
If I could just soften a little, slow things down, be more gentle and open:
Would people walk all over me?
Would I lose my way?
Would I be diminished in my effectiveness, my productivity?
Would I count for less?
The archetype of the soft and loving mother has become an anachronism. She disappeared out of fear and shame in the face of a masculine-oriented world. The gentler feminine qualities were subjected to ridicule and derision. It became an insult to be soft. Toughness and boldness became the goal.
The harshness of the world has taken this quality away from us, men and women both.
We’re hard on ourselves. We’re taught to compare and compete against others from a young age. We’re taught it’s a dog eat dog world – you’d better get the prize before your neighbour does.
Try harder, do better next time, don’t let yourself down, toughen up, keep going, don’t give up, don’t be so soft.
You got this!
I want to break it all down and let it go and not just because it doesn’t feel good….also because it doesn’t work.
I don’t do better when I strive harder, are more critical of myself or more uncompromising. It just makes me freeze up and feel panicked. I’ve always been sensitive to stress. When I was a student I had performance-stunting anxiety in exams, became mentally scattered and unfocused under deadline pressure and would end up ill after prolonged periods of emotional strain and busyness.
I do not thrive under pressure.
Does anyone really? I suspect we get addicted to the adrenaline rush and the ego-trip of being so busy we haven’t got time to scratch ourselves. I’m busy and stressed, therefore, I’m important.
Of course having some degree of structure and discipline is essential for getting things done but do we really need to harangue ourselves into feeling a slave to every task, overwhelmed and a failure?
So where does that leave us? I feel we’re starved of self-love and self-compassion. Danielle Laporte raises this point in her new book White Hot Truth…check out some excerpts here.
We’re all trying so hard to be too much to too many people and it hurts.
What if we just softened a little?
I’d love to hear your thoughts….
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You know you’re here to grow and change right? But are you like me? Do you find it hard to evolve without feeling that everything that came before this new fresh moment has been wrong?
When we make those sudden leaps of growth and suddenly see how flawed our thinking has been, it’s very tempting to judge ourselves harshly.
We all go through times of rapid transition and evolution.
Sometimes it makes my head spin.
One minute we’re rolling down a road we set out on years ago, and then suddenly, we come to a screeching halt, look back, look forward and decide to take a left turn.
Then, not surprisingly we come over all self-critical. We sometimes question why we were ever on that dusty old road to begin with. “What was I thinking?”, we say to ourselves.
Any first marriages spring to mind? Mine does
Then we spend energy and time pointlessly beating ourselves up over all the past decisions, plans, beliefs and dreams that failed to make us happy. It’s so easy to see how wrong we were. But where would we truly be without having taken that risk, forded that river, climbed that hill?
Is looking back with regret really helping us to enjoy life? No, I feel it undermines the new life we are aiming to create and more…
My top five reasons why it’s so important to stop indulging in self-criticism when we evolve:
Your marriage ended. So what? Your business failed. So what? You didn’t get your dream job? So what?…..You learned some cool things right? You certainly evolved.
Life’s not about being perfect, being right all the time or having 100% clear foresight.
The people who play it safe and stick with the decisions they made in their early twenties only because breaking out of that world feels way too risky, are the ones who end up unhappy later in life.
Those of us who run headlong into adventure, change, new experiences and new ideas on how to live are the ones who I see thriving and living more vibrant, engaged, fulfilling lives. Mistakes and failures are all part of the ride.
So to wind this up, let’s look at the alternatives. As I see it we have three choices:
Easy choice right?
Much love, Tricia
My husband and I have been together for a whopping twenty years this year and gosh it’s been a rich and varied ride.
When I cast my mind back to us as naive and fresh-faced twenty-five year-olds moving into our rented two-bedroom unit with no money in the bank and one decent car between us, I see two kids in love and bursting to tackle life head-on together.
I won’t bore you with a detailed history of our whole twenty years. Let’s just say there’s been lots of ups, plenty of downs but mostly regular, normal life just sort of chugging along. No complaints though because our ‘normal’ would be considered paradise on steroids for many people living in other lands.
Fast forward to now and we’ve got so much to be grateful for:
A very cool and relaxed lifestyle by the ocean in a very nice holiday town, two gorgeous kids both on the verge of teenager-dom, healthy bodies, great friends and loving families, work we both enjoy and financial comfort.
But how’s our relationship?
Because you know all those external trappings of success don’t guarantee nothing in this crazy world of ours.
I’ve heard first-hand about countless women just like me with, to the casual observer, everything to be happy about but for whom life feels inwardly miserable or desperately tedious.
And I guess to be honest, I came close to meeting that description around ten years ago when our kids were little. It never became extreme but I certainly reached a point where I felt dissatisfied with my life and my husband was apportioned a reasonable or should I say, ‘unreasonable’ amount of the blame.
When I look back now I see that we were both doing our best to fulfill the roles of parents to our young family and that this put a lot of pressure on our relationship: Hubby worked long hours and though I loved motherhood I also missed my paid work for its mental stimulation and sense of achievement. Before too long we’d drifted onto that favoured battle ground of many young parents. It’s called – “Who’s doing it tougher.”
These days our relationship is good. It’s good because it’s real and honest and mature. We love one another yes, we also enjoy one another’s company as friends and we support each other in pursuing our dreams and ambitions. We have wonderfully lively conversations together and he can still make me giggle.
And of course, we also have those times when things just don’t feel good, we’re tense around one another and everything is difficult. That’s normal right?
It’s complex. I mean raising children, earning a quid, looking after one’s own health, building good friendships, spending quality time together (without the kids) and having a sex life. There’s a lot going on there and that doesn’t include planning holidays, making big career changes, moving to new places and buying and selling homes, all of which we’ve done in the last three years.
So anyway, our relationship has gotten to this point of maturity and longevity for many reasons, but I think one key element has been that I worked out (at around that ten year mark), that I needed to get over the idea that he or anyone else – including my children – was put on this earth to make me happy.
I took full responsibility for making myself happy by doing things I loved each day and by cultivating a deeper and stronger feeling of love and acceptance for myself. It began with daily meditation and a weekly yoga class and was followed by lots and lots of journal writing, studies in kinesiology and flower essence therapy, some amazing self-help and spiritual books and some great healing sessions with some amazing women I met along the way.
My husband was of course right there by my side supporting me and I also had some wonderful friends and my Mum to talk things over with. But really it’s been up to me to choose between the many pathways to travel and to make the clear and simple choice each day to love myself a little more and put myself first in my life.
Once I realised that I didn’t need to wait for anyone else’s approval, because it was already there dwelling within me, I began blossoming in so many new ways.
The story continues…
If you feel you could benefit from some extra support to embark on your new path of loving and accepting yourself more, I’m available for telephone and Skype sessions to help you along the way. Just click here and then contact me for a chat. Much love, Tricia
Do you feel there is a great magnificence dwelling within you that’s just waiting for the right moment to emerge and transform your life?
Can you feel it just a teensy tiny bit?
Well even if you don’t feel it at all right now, I’m here to be your supporter and assure you, it’s there, it’s there as sure as your breath is moving in and out of you at this very moment.
I used to wonder if there was more to me than I was feeling.
Back when I was thirty, before I became a mother, I had this really narrowly defined sense of who I was, what I liked, what I was good at and who my friends were.
It was narrow because the world made me anxious and the tighter my boundaries of good and bad, right and wrong, the easier if felt to manage all the unpredictability life had a habit of throwing my way.
But guess what? It didn’t make me happy and it didn’t really give me any greater control over my life than anybody else. It limited my capacity to grow, to love, learn and to appreciate what I had and who I was.
Becoming a mother was to my great surprise the event in my life that destoyed the neat and tidy illusion of who I was and cracked me open to the shocking discovery that my tiny (even though quite clever), mind had very little power to shield me from the experiences life was desperately trying to hand me for my own good.
A traumatic birth experience was precisely what I needed to shatter all my carefully constructed defenses and show me how vulnerable we all truly are when it comes to birthing and mothering the little people whom we call our children.
Since then – that was twelve and a half years ago – I’ve changed. I’ve been on a quest to explore what lies beneath mine and many other’s carefully constructed facades to uncover the real magnificence within us all. And it’s true, you do need to do some deep excavations in order to understand what you’ve created to help you manage in the world before you can endeavour to undo it all. It needs to happen gently and slowly so that a gradual transition is achieved rather than an earth-shattering collapse and reconstruction.
It’s more about easing or relaxing into ourselves than it is forcing or pushing ourselves to change.
What’s happened for me is I’ve gotten to know and love myself ever so thoroughly and ever so much more than I did a decade ago. And what that’s brought me is; better relationships, a working life that inspires and excites me, a healthy body and balanced emotions and a lifestyle with my family that brings me all the things I really value every day.
And how did I do it? Well I won’t give you a list of everything I did because that would entail a very long article. Some of it was; reading inspiring spiritual and self-help books, having healing sessions, journaling, meditating, doing yoga, being out in nature and talking with dear and inspiring friends. My work and creative outlets like blogging, the writing of my book (to be published later this year), running a local meditation circle, seeing clients, photographing nature and the occasional dabble in drawing all played very important roles too.
As my business begins to expand in the coming months I can’t wait to see how much more heart-opening and magnificence-revealing moments I get to witness.
Enjoy your day dear ones, Tricia <3
But guess waht
That got your attention?
Well it’s true, my body works amazingly well: I can walk, swim, climb stairs, run (when I’m in a hurry), do yoga, dance, sit and stand. I can do pretty much most of the normal everyday things many of us take for granted.
Plus this clever body created, housed, birthed and fed two little humans a few years back. Amazing plus plus! Here I am today doing a tree pose with some trees.
I love having a body that works well and takes me where I want to go free of pain, stiffness or fatigue. If like me, you’re fortunate enough to have an amazing body too, how often do you acknowledge it? Even if your body creaks and groans a little or low energy holds you back, I’ll bet there are heaps of amazing things you can still do. Don’t you just love it?
Or has society brainwashed you into thinking your body only deserves praise or indeed acceptance if it fits some narrow standard of appearance or elite performance?
For how many years of our lives must we curse that extra fat on our tummy, big bottom, saggy knees, breasts that are too small or too big, or criticise our hopeless balance, weak arms, fallen arches? The list goes on and on for some.
I love doing yoga and so do many of the women I meet in my healing practice and yet many of them avoid doing this healthy activity and others such as dance, team sports or even gym workouts because they don’t think they look right, can’t do it as well as the teacher or even measure up to most of the other women in the room.
Let’s take a closer look at yoga: Even though most yoga teachers say we must listen to our own bodies to gauge how to do each posture, there’s still the temptation to compare oneself with the person on the next mat or think that unless we can aspire to eventually look like the teacher and do all the ‘wow factor’ yoga moves they can do, what’s the point in even trying?
I can relate to this, I’ve played the comparison game many times and even found myself being categorised by a yoga teacher a few years ago as “Miss Stiff Shoulders and Tight Lower Back”, which she was able to remind me of with a simple sigh or click of the tongue as she moved past me during the class.
I now attend yoga classes with a range of teachers and feel more comfortable with how my body wants to move and doesn’t want to move.
I’m committed to making improvements where I can and I simply enjoy being able to go to a class and move through each pose. Doing yoga makes me feel strong and healthy and I love the metal focus and meditative aspects of it too.
I’m often surprised when I meet women in their thirties and forties who find it a struggle to describe what type and pace of exercise suits their body best and most importantly, what they enjoy doing. Also, they know they ‘should’ (nasty word) be doing more exercise but don’t prioritise it in their lives or think of it as basic self-care.
This disconnection from the body and our inability to describe what it needs has a direct impact on how well we are able to make other life changes such as a career shift or lifestyle improvements to enhance our happiness and well-being.
What I’m talking about is getting more comfortable with simply being fully present in the body, trusting it, loving it for how it is right now and learning what forms of movement and activity suit it best.
When we’re able to simply feel good in our own skin, we begin to make more loving and heart-guided choices regarding food, sleep, exercise and daily self-care and self-healing practices such as creative expression, meditation and journaling.
Need some help to get that self-care regime started? Take a look here and contact me for a chat prior to booking your session.
I’m not much of a rebel. In fact, I’m a pretty committed rule-follower and goody two-shoes.
Growing up in a world where I interpreted that approval came from what I did, not simply who I was, I fitted right in. I did well at school, played sport, ran races, learned the flute, danced my heart out and made friends easily.
I rarely rocked the boat, broke a rule or even so much as dreamed of rebelling. I played it safe and was a ‘good girl’ ’cause that’s what I thought brought me the love and security I craved.
And yeah, I was happy enough. I certainly think I looked happy from the outside. Busy can look happy because we are distracted from those inner whisperings that question whether we are truly serving our soul’s purpose. Although I guess that’s what being young is all about: Trying this, trying that, being active, working different jobs, studying, dropping out, changing track, starting and ending romances, getting married, getting divorced….Oh, well maybe that last bit’s not for everyone.
That’s just what I did.
Finding myself a newly separated woman shortly after our first anniversary was a bit of a shock. My slightly more rebellious younger brother’s response was a classic: “Yay! Tricia’s finally done something naughty.” That made me laugh – a little anyway.
Yep, I’d walked out of a 15 month-old marriage and was not going back. Goodbye good Tricia. Well, not really, I was still living the illusion that I could make my life work by keeping my head down and playing life safe. Any minor transgressions along the way were simply not me, couldn’t possibly be me.
So although I felt guilty as anything over the marriage breakdown and very sad too, I didn’t really know how to take responsibility for my actions and move forward without hating myself. My moral compass was fluttering in all directions and it took me a year or two to regain some semblance of inner stability.
What really bugged my super-focused, efficiency-oriented mind was the time I had now wasted. I was in my mid-twenties, doing a job not remotely connected to the seemingly useless Bachelor of Arts I had completed, I was divorced, had no assets, no savings, a new boyfriend in the same situation as me and was spending yet more time and potentially wasting more money (only thanks to Mum and Dad), on another university degree to what end?
In my grandly delusional dreams I was going to be happily married, financially secure and at home with my first child by 25. What on earth happened?
Anyway, it all actually worked out okay. That penniless boyfriend and I moved in together that same year, I finished my psychology degree and post grad. diploma and started a new career, we got married and finally in my early thirties I got the ‘happily married with financial security and two children’ dream. And that’s when I began to finally work out how to be happy.
When we get everything we thought we needed to be happy and realise we still aren’t, that’s when real personal growth happens. I’m in a similar situation again right now. I have the life I dreamed of when my children were babies and guess what, I still need to learn that it’s not enough when I don’t love myself fully and value each present moment for what it offers.
So to finish this long story, I just want to say at a slightly wiser 43, dream your dreams, make them happen AND remember to spend time learning to love yourself just as you are right now and love just where you are right now. It makes the ride much smoother. That’s all. <3
I received the inspiration for this article at my women’s meditation and sharing circle last night. Thank you lovely friends!
We were talking about how difficult it can sometimes be to commit to the practices and habits in our lives that we know really serve us. You know how it is, you discover something that makes you feel happy, healthier, more relaxed or more consciously aware. You want to do more of it and yet…..
We make excuses, we don’t make the time, we tell ourselves we’ll try again tomorrow, we slip back into old patterns.
Yoga and meditation were like this for me through my twenties and into my early thirties. Then something changed. It didn’t happen overnight, but ever so gradually I began to honour the urgings of my inner self and I took charge of making that weekly yoga class and a daily meditation practice high priorities in my life.
Since then, these activities have become a part of who I am and it feels more natural to be doing them than to not.
One big key to my success in this aspect of my life was realising the negative impact the word ‘should’ was having on my behaviour and eliminating it from my vocabulary.
“I should go to a yoga class” became, “I’m going to yoga this week”. “I should make time to meditate more often” became, “I could use the time when the children are having their afternoon sleep to meditate”.
I believe that for most of us, the word, should, carries a bucket-load of negative energy and unpleasant associations. Did anyone grow up and not hear a parent use this word multiple times a day to get us to do the tasks we dreaded or change an aspect of ourselves they disapproved of?
“You should tidy your room”, “You should do more homework”, “You should be nicer to your sister”, “You should go and visit your grandma” etcetera, etcetera.
So how do you think your inner child feels when you use ‘should’ to encourage yourself to do something that you like and you know is good for you? I reckon that inner 12 year-old who hates hearing should, turns into a rebellious little devil and tries her darndest to sabotage your plan. And it usually works doesn’t it.
So get rid of should and use other words like; could, will, would like to. You get the drift, I’m sure.
Start right now. Think of something you have been wanting to make a habit of doing in your life but have been struggling to commit to. Then say to yourself out loud; “I should do _________ more often.”. Notice how that feels in your mind and body.
Now say to yourself; “I enjoy doing ________ and I would like to do it more often”. Notice how these words carry a lighter, more uplifting energy.
The bottom line here is that changing your vocabulary is just the beginning. The natural getting of wisdom that comes with age, combined with a gigantic dose of self love and connection to the true self is what’s needed to combat this inner saboteur.
As you release the need to speak to yourself from the voice of a disapproving parent, the way you live will more closely mirror what your soul yearns for and your whole life will feel more free and more joyful.
Dance, sing, stretch, paint, write, speak, pray, meditate, eat and play! Enjoy it all, for you are a child of the universe.
I’m feeling an increase in my capacity to feel intense gratitude these last few days. This feels good as with gratitude comes joy and increased abundance.
There is greater light flooding our planet at this time but it also it feels as though the darkness in humanity currently being expressed in destructive and violent ways is more dramatically than ever, being dredged up to the surface.
It is indeed a time when gifting ourselves with greater love and care will be very beneficial in allowing us to move through this year with more peace, compassion and clarity regarding what we would like to create for ourselves. Rather than allowing ourselves to continually be dragged down into feelings of horror, distress and judgment over the actions of others around the globe.
This morning I took the 20 minute drive to our nearby big town, Busselton to do a little shopping. As I drove home (while stopping briefly for road works in fact), I experienced a moment of intense teary-eyed gratitude that the place I now live in, is my home! We’ve been living in Dunsborough for a bit over a year now and yet it is only in the last month that it has begun to sink in that this is actually where I live and that the way I spend my days is truly my regular life now.
The road to get here was long and sometimes arduous (click here to read about it) and I’ll admit, the move felt like a big gamble in some ways. But I’m here to say right now to all of you, if you have a strong desire to change your life so that it reflects who you are in your soul, then keep that dream strong and trust that the universe is supporting you in every moment to bring it to fruition.
So, one of the ways I looked after myself this morning was to treat myself to a tea and friand at one of our lovely local cafes before I headed home after my shopping trip. I’m mentioning this as an example of an inexpensive way we can all look after ourselves once in a while. I’m also mentioning it because I basically never do it! I meet up with friends for a cuppa but never do this on my own.
I really enjoyed it and will be sure to do it again.
Gifting ourselves with little treats, like; an early morning stroll, a candle-lit bath, a packet of a high quality tea, a phone call to a friend who lifts your spirits, time to paint, draw, sing, dance, read, anything you love and that makes you feel ‘you’, allows us to re-connect with our soul and re-charges our batteries.
If you do something lovely for yourself every day I guarantee you will sail through the washing, shopping and cleaning up that much more smoothly.
Just ask into your heart every morning when you wake, what can I do today that will make my soul sing? The answer will come if you let it.
Love is all.