START A REVOLUTION: against the inner critic
~Tips for creating a safe and nurturing inner home and relationship with self.~
You shared that the word “love” when it refers to yourself feels scary and weak. It is a charged word that brings up anger, contempt, and pain. It is a word that feels so far from your reality that you can’t even begin to imagine a life in which you offer it to yourself.
Self-love, as a theoretical concept, is imaginable but you notice your inner resistance to it.
From a lifetime of feeling the same, I understand. I know the fear associated with returning to self and shifting a harsh inner landscape to one of warmth and nurturance.
You ask me “How do I get there?”.
I can only share my journey. I can only share what I have witnessed in my other friends and their journeys.
This is a continuation of my love letter to you to share about this journey...
What is Home?
Is your internal home: safe or scary?
Does it provide nurturance, warmth, comfort, ease, grace, tenderness, forgiveness?
Or is it harsh, edgy, forceful, unforgiving, relentlessly critical, cold, rigid, withholding, punishing, unsatisfied?
Many of us re-create our internal home to match the external home of our childhoods.
Our internal landscape is often a re-creation of what we experienced growing up, words and messages and treatment from our parents, families, teachers, and peers.
From these early relationships, we learned how to “be” with ourselves. We learned how to “be” within ourselves. We took cues from others in those formative years about how to treat ourselves, motivate ourselves, and address our needs. We learned whether we were “worth” celebrating, delighting in, appreciating, accepting.
We learned early what was good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, strong or weak, acceptable or unacceptable, and right or wrong.
We simultaneously learned what happened as a consequence when we did something “bad”, “inappropriate”, “weak”, “wrong”, “unacceptable”. We learned the social consequences of doing the "wrong" thing. We learned that if we did the “wrong” thing, love was withheld. If we did or said something “inappropriate” or “weak”, our peers made fun of us or bullied us. So, we spent time making sure we didn’t misstep. We did all we could to not make mistakes. We learned all the things that our parents, families, peers, teachers, society expected, and thought were “wrong” or “bad”, and we did our best to walk the line.
But if we repeatedly made “mistakes”, we no longer experienced the possibility of redemption by walking the line and correcting “unacceptable” behavior. Instead, we were then labelled “bad”, “wrong”, “weak”, “unacceptable”. The method moved from guilt to shame. We were treated as though we were by nature “bad”, “wrong”.
These early experiences of guilt and shame became deeply ingrained. And long after these experiences became memory, our psyches and bodies continue to replay the messages and the condemning voices. We continue to carry out the behavior of punishment, only now it is us punishing ourselves for making “mistakes”, doing or saying something “wrong”, appearing “weak”. We may even take it a step further, internally, and call ourselves “bad”, “wrong”, “unacceptable”, “weak”.
The external homes of our childhoods become the internal homes of our present. And we become unsafe within our own skin, within our own selves.
We experience persistent negative self-talk, incessant mental chatter which criticizes and shames.
The mental activity can be debilitating for some of us, if it goes unchecked. And some of us can even be driven to addiction to numb the pain of the harsh inner landscape of our internal home. Some experience temporary relief through drugs, alcohol, sex, compulsive shopping, and food. Or temporary relief through mental distractions, mental picking, repetitive behaviors, obsessive fixated thinking. Anything to get one’s mind off the unbearable pain of a harsh inner home devoid of peace, where there is no comfort, no soothing balm for one’s aching heart, no internal hug, no warm hearth, no soft blankets. A place where we close our eyes to go within, and are met with cold soup, hard concrete benches, grey walls, stern faces, vacant gazes, backs turned.
So many of us experience this. I know I’ve had my own journey through this cold vacant place and my other friends have as well.
And just like with my journey and the journey of my other friends, the question is:
How do we shift our inner home to one of warmth and kindness where we’ve only known cold and critical?
Where do you begin?
This is not an easy answer.
It does not produce fast results and it is not the normal way you’ve been approaching things.
It is radical.
It is revolutionary.
Because it starts with you
Revolting against everything you’ve ever known.
It is a monumental task
and it is possible
and it is worth it.
Let me tell you a story...
Once upon a time there was a young girl who was curious about nature and people.
She loved her family so much and the flowers and the sky and the clouds and her little pens and papers and stickers. She was happy and life was easy. She was full of smiles and her heart radiated joy. Her laughter was contagious.
One day the clouds in the sky became very gray and the little girl’s life turned upside down.
People came into her life, brought in by the gray clouds. The little girl was shamed, beaten, confined to her room, and told she was a “bad” girl. And all the love she used to feel and express, went deep deep inside herself to hide and stay safe.
As the years passed by, the little girl became a woman. She had a strong impervious exterior. She did not smile. She kept people at a distance emotionally, never getting too close. To others, she was labelled controlling and cold. She was excessively ambitious. With all her achievements, no one gave a second thought to whether the woman was truly happy.
But on the inside, the woman was actually very sad, very angry, and very scared. Her external persona was a show because on the inside she felt very small. Inside she was shy and didn’t trust others. She was convinced people didn’t like her and were always judging her. So, she didn’t bother making friends and never let anybody really get to know her. She was very lonely. The woman was very mean to herself. She drank, and experienced addiction to food, and shopping. She used these to numb her pain of loneliness and to escape from her sadness and self-loathing. She had no clue how to nurture herself and her life was cold and colorless.
She lived like this for many years.
One day a tiny kitten came into her life. She enjoyed the kitten but could not talk to it the way she knew people talked to kittens, or even hold it tenderly. She would give it what she could, the basics.. short pats on the head, occasional pets, food, water, brushing.
She knew she wanted to love the kitten but she was not able to express that love easily. It pained the woman that she could not “feel” the love she knew she was capable of. Her heart felt frozen. This caused her extreme shame. She felt the pain that something was truly wrong with her.
But the woman remembered the small girl that she once was and knew that she was capable at one time of loving tenderly. She knew the part of her that hid away all those years ago deep deep inside herself was still hiding. Still did not feel safe.
The woman knew she needed to heal the relationship with her inner child in order to love the little kitten in the way she was capable of. In order to unfreeze her heart and find the part of her that was hiding.
Knowing what need to be done, the woman began her healing journey to reconnect with herself, to create a safe space within herself for her inner child. A warm inviting inner home full of nurturance and comfort for the part of her that had hidden away all those years ago. The woman resolved to stop numbing her pain. She added color to her home. She began to listen to the needs of her body. She began to comfort herself. She began to talk to people and let others into her heart again. She began to laugh.
And as she did this her outer home and her inner home became warm and cozy.
And the woman began to notice herself scooping up the little kitten in her arms, singing it little silly songs in silly voices, dancing with the kitten, and cradling it in her arms for hours.
And the woman and the kitten lived happily every after.
Re-creating your inner home: LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN.
Revolt begins with a moment, an instant, a flash of a BIG GIANT “NO”.
This no resounds and reverberates throughout the cosmos. It is the sound of you reclaiming your life.
The no is a
"no, I refuse to continue living like this"
to every lie you were ever told about yourself
to the walls built around you
from the labels given to you
to numbing out
to barely living
to harsh outer homes
to harsh inner homes
to the prison you created from your own beliefs about yourself
This is so important.
What are you saying “NO” or “no more” to in your heart and spirit?
This NO is a clearing out, a sweeping of your internal landscape.
It is a fresh start, a blank slate.
A decluttering of
from long ago.
They have no place your NEW HOME.
Your new home can be whatever you want it to be.
What do you want it to be?
What are you saying YES to?
What are you moving toward?
For me, my journey, my “YES” was and is
to a deep connection with myself,
to finally be able to look forward to time with myself,
to delight in my own company,
to be in love with myself and be in love with my life,
to offer myself warmth, tenderness, grace, compassion, comfort,
to listen to my needs,
to honor my needs,
to learn more about myself,
to trust myself,
to treat myself like a treasure,
to mother myself
How we are with ourselves
How we talk to ourselves
is the outer reflection of our inner home- our internal landscape.
Creating a safe space, a safe and loving inner home for ourselves is very important work.
It’s the most important work. From it, all else stems.
A safe inner home will look different for everybody.
Make it your own.
What will it look like
When you close your eyes
can you see it
Maybe it's not an image but a visceral sensation
Maybe, for you to access and re-create your inner home, you begin to re-create your outer home and re-create your experiences with yourself, making all your experiences with yourself safe and nurturing.
My dear friend, this is a lifelong process, a journey. This is why this love letter is ongoing.
This is not easy work. If you are like me, it may take a very long time to get comfortable even beginning this journey of feeling safe with yourself. Initially, I experienced resistance, fear, and an unwillingness to offer myself nurturance. I felt it was silly and stupid and impossible. It shuffled up feelings of anger. And for very good reason. For me, trauma interfered so deeply with feelings of safety within myself, that I could not do this inner healing journey without a trauma therapist at my side. This is deep healing work. Sometimes we can’t do it alone. Sometimes a trauma therapist may be helpful as we navigate this journey back to self.
Be patient with yourself.
Remember you are doing something you’ve never done before.
It is brand new. It is a revolution.
And it is possible.
I love you.
Love your friend,
Here is some guidance for your journey this week...
Intention: To create a nurturing inner home.
Reflection: I invite you to take some time this week to reflect on the following. Ask yourself...
In what ways has the inner critic or inner bully been allowed to run rampant?
Is my inner home safe or scary?
When I close my eyes and sit still with myself or spend time with myself, do I experience peace or pain?
Is the pain self-induced?
Does it have the same flavor as the pain I experienced in my childhood?
Do I say the same harsh things to myself that I heard growing up?
Do I engage in self-punishing dialogue, behavior, or beliefs about myself that feel harsh?
Am I ready to create something else entirely different for myself?
Do I have resistance to the words tenderness, love, compassion, nurturance as it relates to myself?
Where does the resistance come from?
When did the resistance begin?
What needs to shift so that I am willing to move toward a deep connection with myself rather than away?
Practice: For this week,
Notice how you talk to yourself.
Notice how you treat yourself.
Practice creating a safe and nurturing outer home for yourself.
Practice creating a safe and nurturing inner home for yourself.
I am safe. I am safe with myself. I create a safe inner home for myself. I offer myself nurturance, compassion, warmth, grace, forgiveness. I am at peace within myself. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am in love with myself. I am in love with my life.
Has this article helped you in some way? Do you have anything you'd like to share? I’d love to hear below.
Dear Wonderful Person,
I hope this message helps support you on your path of personal liberation, connection, and peace-filled compassion. Need more guidance on this topic or looking for a coach to partner with you on this part of your journey? Check out my private coaching programs.
Wishing you much peace and joy,
Customized. Personalized. Just for You.
Looking for a personable, heart-felt, caring coach to partner with you and help you achieve your personal and professional goals?
Rebecca's transformational whole-person coaching has helped her partners build confidence, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and connect authentically with themselves and others. She has partnered with executives, managers, and teams for over 15 years offering private coaching as well as Workshops in Public Speaking, and Worksite Wellness Classes in Stress-reduction, Work/Life Balance, and Time-management.
Over 15 years as an Executive Coach and Trainer for leaders in Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, Top-tier Universities, Government, NGOs, Small Businesses helping leaders and their teams achieve superior results
Results: Strengthened relationships and communication, Increased confidence and happiness, Reduced stress, Improved quality of life and employee wellness, Enhanced performance, Increased job satisfaction
1500+ hours of formal training and certifications in stress-reduction, mindfulness, and communication strategies
Certified Master Coach
MPA in Managerial Leadership, graduated with honors
BA with a concentration in Speech Communication, Magna Cum Laude
Named Top 16 Coaches in Raleigh for 2022 by Influence Digest