the healing of silence and solitude
when it's necessary to say no
My greatest practice for getting to know my anxious self has been something I've learned through Buddhism, poetry, cognitive behavioral therapy, and philosophy alike: the practice of staying. Pema Chodron calls it "staying with the raw feelings." CBT calls it "identifying the cognitive distortions." David Whyte calls it "the sweet confinement of your aloneness."
What these ideas have collectedly translated to for me is this: honor what you're feeling. Stop making excuses or trying to explain away your struggles in order to pretend they don't exist.
an invitation to peace
Understandably, 'no' and anxiety go well together, and we often see every no as another win for our fear. The opposite of anxiety, we think, is yes. So we must be living on yeses to be truly overcoming anxiety.
Can you just imagine the exhaustion?
We don't always learn so easily that no actually does have its place in our healing practice. As much as too many no moments can lead to despair, too many yes moments can lead to burn-out. The importance lies in our ability to use both words with intention throughout our lives.
I will breathe more...
There is an extraordinary journey being offered to you, an invitation down a quieter, less-traveled, yet all the more scenic path. It's the journey into your own authenticity, but to get there requires the courage to cross through more treacherous terrain: the crags of fear and the bogs of doubt. At points along the way you'll reach clearings that will stop your breath with their beauty, their aliveness. You may not believe it to be a real place, but after time you'll realize that it's true and it's there, a place inside yourself where a distant voice whispers to you that you are enough.
Patience, patience indeed
One more bit of inspiration from Tyler Knott Gregson, the beginning of this piece struck me as a series of healthy reminders to myself. There's so much more motivation to be had in saying "I will" instead of "I won't."
For the thousand moments waiting
Play around with inhabiting this poem, imagining a serene, confident, and deeply loving you saying the words to the part of yourself who lives in fear of not being enough. Notice what it feels like to be your own hero or heroine. It doesn't matter what that person looks like, what material goods or social status they have achieved, or - goodness knows - how well their social media feed is curated.
love letters to the self
What would you say to the moments waiting ahead? To the ones left behind? The mistake moments that you don't think you'll ever let yourself forget. The moments where you felt shamed and insignificant, just plain unworthy?
What about, "I'm sorry"?
What about, "It's okay"?
What about, "You're enough"?
making a commitment to yourself
Sometimes, I write love letters to myself.
They're healing, they're powerful; they're necessary. I'll scribble them from time to time into my journal and fold down the page in dog-eared fashion so I can quickly go back to find a compassionate pep talk when I feel like I need one. I don't remember how I got started on this practice or what motivated me to stick with it through the initial awkwardness. (Because it was awkward; and how!)
Like first beginning a journaling practice, writing letters to yourself can seem positively painstaking - even when you have no intention of sharing this writing with an audience, you still feel ever so much like a fool. Maybe this is because self-compassion is still a radical idea for many of us. But the more you do it, the more powerful the practice becomes, and the more in touch you become with your own capacity for kindness, patience, and love.
When I recently took part in Dana Hilmer's THRIVE program I was instructed, along with the others in attendance, to peruse a list of strengths and circle the ones I felt to be the most relevant to me, the qualities of which I felt myself most capable. As I scanned the list, one strength caught my eye: loyalty. Not long ago someone had used that word to describe me and I had reflected on the kindness of that compliment; I had never given my loyalty much thought, and so had never considered to give it any praise. After being reminded of the strength of it, I took it on proudly and I spent some time with the word.