Tag Archives: consciousness

G is for Grace

“Can you give yourself some grace?” It’s a question I ask many clients regularly when they come to me to talk about whatever is causing them emotional pain. Sometimes they look back at me in confusion.  “What do you mean, grace?”

“Can you give yourself as much compassion in this moment, or any moment when you’re feeling badly, as you would give your best friend?”

Many of us have negative self-talk “tapes” that run through our heads constantly. Often, we aren’t even aware of the messages we are giving ourselves. Think about it. The last time you made a mistake, said the wrong thing, burned dinner (I did that just the other day), couldn’t get out of bed because anxiety was sitting so hard on your chest, what was the conversation you had with yourself?

Would we say those same words out loud to our friend, our partner, our child, even an acquaintance who had come to us for help or advice? No? Then why do we treat ourselves so poorly? Shouldn’t we give ourselves as much kindness and grace as we afford others?

Many times, we aren’t even aware of the grinding negativity we heap upon ourselves. I mean, we aren’t generally saying anything out loud, but if we tune in what do we hear? And whose voices are we hearing? It could be our third-grade teacher berating us for having to use the bathroom too often when in reality we were just trying to manage our 8-year-old self’s anxiety about spelling tests. Or it might be our dad, telling us we to stop crying or he’d give us something to cry about. It could be our youth minister, telling us we’re going to hell after we finally worked up the courage to come out to her. There’s no shortage of negative input from our past, so why are we dragging it with us into our present?

Learning to be patient and kind to ourselves takes practice and work. First, we have to recognize that we are giving ourselves these messages. We have to become conscious. And unless we have done the work to become aware and present, most of the time we walk through life unconscious. If we pause for a moment after making an error and ground ourselves in the moment, we can then choose how to react. We can berate ourselves (loser, idiot, stupid, what a fuck up) or we can shower ourselves with kindness and love (it’s ok, you’ll do better next time, it’s not a big deal, there’s a pandemic, of course you’re anxious/depressed/uncertain/lonely).

We’re all trying harder to practice kindness during this weird time–waving at strangers as we cross the road to avoid breathing the same air, yelling across the yard to chat with our neighbors as we check in on their well-being, touching base with those we know might need some extra help, having online gatherings with friends we may not have seen in a while.

Let’s all practice giving ourselves at least that much grace while we’re at it.

C is for Consciousness and Choice

The past few weeks have been a seminar on awareness, being conscious of what is going on around me as well as within me. I have been noticing so many things. So many things. I thought I should start making a list of all the noticing but as is usually my wont, I figured I would remember. And, of course, now that I sit down to write about what I have noticed, I’m having difficulty remembering all of the things.

When clients come in (or as it is now, log on) to see me, I work with them to become conscious of their thought patterns, the unconscious messages they are sending themselves, the subconscious beliefs they hold about life and circumstance and beliefs and other people. When we become conscious, or aware, we can begin to make choices (also a great word that begins with C), and when we make conscious choices, we take back our power. We discover our agency, either for the first time or again.

To use a slightly silly example, I have noticed that there are a lot of dandelions in the grass just outside my front door. Usually I mow once a week and pay no attention, but now, as I sit on the front steps and comb the cat to while away the hours, I am aware of the sheer number of dandelions. More dandelions than grass in many spots. In this moment I realize that I have a choice about how I feel about the unwanted yellow and green plant pests. I can be annoyed by them, or I can be grateful that today is sunny and getting warm-ish and I have time to spend in the yard, eradicating them.

Recognizing the choices gives me a sense of power. I can choose what to do and how I want to feel. I can feel in control and powerful regardless of my choice, just knowing that I have options. Without choice, I could become a victim to the dandelions, feeling sorry for myself that I don’t have a beautiful lush lawn, for example.

Instead, I make a conscious decision to spend a few hours weeding, moving, bending, kneeling, focusing.

My lawn looks like it has a terrible pox, but I am invigorated.

What have you  been noticing?

p.s. Other things I have noticed/become conscious of:

  • my cat Mittens has a nemesis neighbor cat that visits/harasses him daily
  • the deer parade through my yard daily as well and boy are there a lot this spring
  • my freezer doesn’t seem to be working
  • I don’t mind the noise in the neighborhood
  • there’s a tiny hold drilled above my front door that seems to be bug related
  • I have and can wield a caulk gun
  • volunteer pansies in my flower pots
  • I can be content staying home
  • I am saving a ton of money by not eating out nearly every night
  • I don’t mind cooking