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Posts Tagged ‘critical voice’

In my last post, I discussed how we can rebuild our self-trust by making commitments to our goals and them chunking them down into bite-sized doable bits. In this post, I am going to address how our inner dialog and dynamic stirs emotions that impact our self-trust and discipline.

It takes discipline to meet your daily commitments to yourself, regardless of your emotions, regardless of circumstances. Do you notice that you have an adverse reaction to the word discipline? I know I used to. When I was growing up being disciplined was code for being punished.

So here is a little something that helped me reclaim that word in a powerful way. Consider being disciplined as being a “disciple of” something. If you are disciplined about getting into your artist studio every day, you are being a disciple of your art, your curiosity, your wonder, your integrity. When you think of it that way, does it help?

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Some of us, by nature and/or nurture, are more impacted by our emotions than others. Some people are able to “just do it,” as the Nike phrase goes. I tend to be emotionally based and have procrastinated more than once with “I don’t feel like it” or “I’m just not inspired right now.” If you operate from an emotional base, it can be challenging to get good traction with a new discipline or habit you want to build.

Your energy level might be low, perhaps you are physically depleted, both of which can contribute to your emotional state. In any case, it’s important to work with what you have. Start where you are.

Also, if you recognize that your current emotional state is due to low energy reserves or physical illness, be gentle with yourself and get curious about what your body needs from you and how you can nurture yourself to a better physical and energetic state. If you are in a state of grief over loss, experiencing trauma, terror or other deep emotional pain, again, please nurture yourself and get whatever help you need.

If you are in fairly stable energetic and physical states, and you are stalling out on your commitment to yourself, then look to the emotions conjured by your own internal dialog. These are more illusion than reality. They are driven by thoughts about the past or the future and they are the result of some way we are talking to ourselves.

Think of your emotions as an alchemy of thoughts and physical sensations. For example, I might feel my heart racing right before I go on stage and at the same time I am having a flurry of thoughts. If my thoughts are fear based, I am likely to experience my heart racing as stage fright. If my thoughts are thrill and adventure based, I am likely to experience my heart racing as excitement. In each case, the circumstances are the same, but how I interpret them is different.

Become the observer of your inner dialog.

As you state intentions, meet commitments and get into action, your fear and excitement buttons will get pressed. Your saboteur is suspicious of change and prefers status quo. A couple of ways it may show up as you embark on your new adventure are as a slave driver/bully or (on the other side of the coin) a complete enabler of all things slothful and indulgent.

Both set off a dynamic that can keep you entertained until the day you die, never having accomplished much of anything. Both of them erode your self-trust because you are in a battle with yourself. Let’s take a look at each.

Inner Slave Driver/bully: this is a critical and demanding voice. You are never doing enough, never working hard enough and what you produce is not good enough. Even when you have committed to something and met that commitment regularly, the slave driver will be on your case. There is more to do and do better, more to study and you do not have time for a break. Fun and recreation are not part of this picture. Play has no place and when you are working it has to feel hard and you have to feel miserable in order to get your merit badge for showing up. This is not love.

Inner Indulgent Enabler: this is the pendulum swing opposite of the slave driver that says things like: You’ve worked so hard you deserve a break or one more cookie won’t hurt anything, you’ve been so good anyway. This is not love.

Both voices run a volume continuum from whisper (which is hardly noticeable and so very sneaky) to an echoing scream. They are like drug pushers, if you believe a little of what they say to you, it is only a few more steps down a slippery slope to a lifetime of procrastination. They work you individually and as a team.

If you are prone to ongoing internal dialog with the slave driver, you are likely locked into a bully vs rebel dynamic. The slave driver bullies you, berates you and criticizes you. It can lead to a response like (my most familiar one) a rebel who says “screw you I will do what I want!” (in the name of freedom). It can also lead you to respond like a victim who curls up into a fetal ball, depressed and weary awaiting rescue.

If you are prone to listen to the inner enabler, you are likely to procrastinate by way of saying “mañana.” I need a break today, I don’t have enough energy right now, I lost my inspiration and it feels too hard to get it back. You will then go on and do something easy, like watch TV, go on Facebook, play video games, or do some other more menial task. This last one is clever as it is an indulgent response to the slave driver. “Heck, at least I am doing something on my list.”

Neither of these voices is helpful. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their true intention is not to get the work done, but to avoid it.

Sometimes they are mirrored by those around you; a spouse, parent, even a coach. You can project your bully or indulgent voice on them. It is a way to blame others for your own internal battle.

Your best bet is to become familiar with these voices and realize that you are not the voices and you are not the emotional response you have to those voices.

Step away from the inner dialog and listen with your observer. What is the dynamic you see at play? Is it more slave driver and rebel? Is it slave driver and victim? Or is it more indulgent and enabling?

Can you see where they double-team you? An example would be: you are on the couch playing a game on your iPad. It started as a quick well-deserved break and has turned into a two hour marathon sponsored by your inner enabler. Now the indulgent voice gives way to your slave driver who berates you for being a couch potato, time waster, video game addict. You are being shamed and criticized. By whom? Yourself. You are not the couch potato and you are not a victim.

You are the author of these dramas, not the characters. As the author, you can direct and re-direct the script, but first you have to be aware that you are the author and it will be very helpful if you have an awareness of the kinds of things each of your characters says. What are their favorite strategies?

This is an assignment I give most of my clients who are beginning a coaching journey. What is your self-talk? How much of it do you even notice and how much do you just embody without question?

There is another voice that you will want to cultivate. It is a nurturing voice; one that has your best interest at heart and tells you the honest truth, never shames, but lovingly redirects. You might imagine a higher self, soul or grounded parent. This is love.

Many of us have difficulty finding this voice at first. We tend to equate it with the indulgent enabler.

I am reminded of something I saw years ago at the SD Wild Animal Park. A young Asian mother with her toddler who appeared to be a few months new to walking were ambling along the entry path. She let the toddler wander and be curious under her watchful eye. Whenever the toddler was headed toward potential trouble (off the path, in front of an oncoming crowd of people) she would gently redirect the child with her hand. No words were said, there was no grabbing, forcing, yelling, admonishing.

This is what it feels like to be guided by our nurturing voice. Every moment we can redirect ourselves, not with shame, shouting, guilt, force, but with a loving light touch that does not allow for self-pity, indulgence, waiting games. It is also a helpful voice for emotions and avoidance that arise when we get confused or don’t yet know how to do something. This voice can lovingly guide us to ask for help from someone who does know how.

In conclusion, what I will say is, most of our emotional responses to our commitments that lead to procrastination, inertia and depletion of our self-trust are actually responses to this internal dialog and drama to which we’ve allowed ourselves to become captive. While we may feel we are at the mercy of this dynamic, we are not. We are actually the creators and so, we can re-create.

What about these dynamics is familiar to you?

How will you gently re-direct yourself and re-create your life today?

If you would like some help with identifying your dynamic and getting off the emotionally run procrastination train, I invite you to consider coaching with me.

Next in this series, I will write about momentum.

Photos and words: Copyright©2015 Kathy J Loh

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“Every time you break a promise, you are loading your karmic backpack with the pebbles of broken agreements.” Patrick Ryan

Are you trustworthy? Do you keep promises you make to others? What about promises you make to yourself?

First, a story:*

Let’s say you are having a conversation with a friend and you mention that you are going to start running every morning.

Your friend says “Hey! That sounds great. I’d love to run too. Mind if I join you?”

“That will be great,” you respond. “Meet me at the bench by the lake at 7 am.”

“You’re on,” your friend agrees.

The next morning you suit up and head to the lake. You are there five minutes early. You wait for your friend. 7:00 comes and goes. By 7:15, having heard nothing from your friend, you decide to go for your run so you can get on with your day.

Later that day, you run into your friend at the coffee house.You ask them, “What happened?

“Oh, I overslept, but I really want to go. I’ll meet you tomorrow morning. Same place and time?”

“Sure!“ you respond.

The next morning you suit up and head back to the lake, eager to run. You are there before 7:00 and you wait for 15 minutes, but your friend does not show up and there are no texts on your cell. Disappointed and a bit miffed, you go for your run.

Later that day, you call your friend and say “Hey, where were you this morning?”

Your friend responds, “Oh, I forgot. I’m so sorry. I will be there tomorrow for sure.”

Tomorrow comes, you are at the bench by the lake waiting for your friend who is a no-show a.g.a.i.n. You go for your run and as you pass the gas station, you see your friend there filling up his car. All you get is a wave and a smile, like nothing happened.

You run up to them and jogging, in place, you say “You said you would meet me at 7:00 three mornings in a row now and you have been a no-show all three mornings. What is your excuse today?”

Your friend says “Don’t get on my case. I just didn’t feel like it today.”

You can guess how the rest of this story goes.

Is this friend trustworthy? Are you likely to believe him the next time he promises anything to you?

Every time you make an agreement with yourself and then don’t follow through, you are being that kind of friend to yourself. You are completely untrustworthy. You are abandoning yourself.

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What is the one thing (maybe more than one) that you have been saying you want to do that you never seem to get to. The thing that you’ve toyed with but abandoned, not for lack of interest, but for some other reason: circumstances, not sure how to proceed, money, time, etc.

Do you want to write or pursue some creative endeavor?
Do you want to lose weight, get fit, run a marathon?
Do you want to learn a new language or how to play piano?
Do you want to curtail your Facebook addiction?
Do you want to build a new business?

Commit to a plan to accomplish it and be your best, most trustworthy friend, by following through on your commitment.

When you erode your self trust, it has a far-reaching impact. It gives your inner critic free license and opportunities to berate you for being so unreliable and weak. The sting of “failure,” day after day, as the promise is made and broken over and over again erodes your self-esteem, your hope, your sense of worthiness and sends your dreams farther out on the horizon.

Before long, you begin to lose faith in yourself and your passions. Your trickster hisses things in your inner ear that have you believe you were never meant to do these things anyway. It’s all a pack of lies to which you have fallen prey, by your own hand.

To rebuild trust in yourself, if it feels too overwhelming to take on a large project like lose 25 lbs or write a book, chunk it down into bite sized agreements. Make a commitment you know you can and will meet. Because the point is rebuilding trust and confidence in yourself, you want a string of consistent wins.

Start with something easy and simple, like I will not look at Facebook for the next hour or I will not hunt through the kitchen cabinets for snacks for one hour, or between now and dinner.

Then you can re-commit to the next hour, the next small goal.

Another advantage to a bite-sized commitment is if you fail to meet it, it is short term and you can re-commit immediately. A caveat! This is not a free pass to indulgence as in: Commit, indulge, recommit. That would only erode your trust in yourself and send you down the spiral of self-abandonment.

If it is helpful for you, invite someone to be an accountability buddy; someone who wants to do the same and check in with a phone call, text or email (but don’t read other emails) when you begin and end your commitment. A simple text: going for my run now to start and end with: I’ve completed my run. with some celebration emoji.If your accountability buddy lets you off the hook too often, find another one.

Bite sized agreements also allow you to be realistic about your commitments. They give you time to observe what truly works for you and what doesn’t, as well as the ways you talk to yourself and how your emotions impact your discipline. Too often we make huge commitments and then find it difficult to hold to them in the face of changing circumstances. It’s not that it can’t be done and it is more challenging.

Whatever it is you want to create for yourself, make a plan, chunk it down, and make many tiny commitments to rebuild your self-trust. Put on your “running shoes” and meet your self at the “the bench by the lake.” It will also do wonders for your self-esteem and confidence and you will see your dreams moving in closer and closer to shore.

In upcoming posts, I will cover momentum and emotional aspects of commitments to yourself.

Copyright©September 2015, Kathy J Loh all rights reserved

*This is a paraphrase of a story I heard Patrick Ryan tell in one of his Awakened Wisdom workshops. The opening quote is from his book, Awakened Wisdom.

If you feel the services of a coach will help you get and stay on track, I invite you to consider hiring me as your coach.

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“Failure is the path of least resistance.”Sir James Matthew Barrie

Another quick post today, to simply share with you a beautiful example of one’s willingness to fail on the road to success.

Did I say willingness? How about enthusiastically embracing failure as an essential part of the process of creating, inventing, constructing?

And then there’s patience, persistence, resilience, commitment, faith.

Notice how wholeheartedly he embraces the potential for a “gazillion” failures on the road to success.

He relishes sharing both with the world, not just hiding out with failure and showing off success.

Finally, ah! the sweet and full celebration of success.

Let’s re-resonate this word, failure. Let’s unplug it from the socket of being humiliated and exiled.

How about we fill it with the resonance of being fully alive, playfulness, exploring, adventuring?

What will make “failure” your new eagerly sought-after goal?

Enjoy!

 

copyright (c) March 2012, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (except video)

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“It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now.”  – Lady Antebellum (Need You Now)

I had to take my van in for scheduled maintenance and I knew I’d be house-bound for the day, except for wherever I might choose to go on foot. Well, let’s not argue bikes and buses, that’s not the point. I chose to make today one free of the obligation to go anywhere.  I thought I was clearing today to work on some projects and it’s still possible I will do that later.

What I didn’t expect was that my entire system, body, mind, spirit and heart, would seize the opportunity to do a little (or a lot of) integrating and healing. It’s like my system saw the open space coming and the entire assembly line began to whir.

It began with reviewing my post-divorce journey yesterday. (The project I’m working on has to do with that journey.) Those thoughts led to noticing what I really feel about where I live, what I do and what I’ve left behind, including what more there is to leave at the curb.

I had a vivid dream about my ex. I’ll spare you the details (and dream analysis) and will simply say that, in the dream, I held him with huge compassion and love. I wrote about it in my journal and pulled an angel card: Healing. The cards on either side of it being: Forgiveness and Self-acceptance.

Iris - copyright(c) May 2010, K Loh, All Rights Reserved

Iris: symbolizes new birth at hand

In my morning meditation, it occurred to me to offer the same love, compassion and forgiveness to myself that I had offered my ex in my dream.  I did so out loud. Whoever lives in me and carries some sense of unworthiness heard it and sobbed with relief. I felt the guilt and pain dissolve while my cells danced with the light and love of healing forgiveness.

We hold things against ourselves unconsciously. It’s so important to become curious about and intimate with our self-talk. How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m harder on myself than anyone else?” Hello? Is this supposed to earn us some kind of award? No wonder the body hurts, the spirit sinks, the heart cowers and the mind becomes distorted. No wonder. We become so separated from ourselves.

Jump ahead an hour or so and I am home, without a vehicle of the gas-guzzling variety. There’s a sense of solitude about it, kind of like when the power goes out or being snowed in. The spaciousness is visceral. The house feels doubly insulated and there’s a kind of sobriety about the stillness when the mind is not able to run a checklist of all the places I can go to get away from here.

The phone rang, once and then nothing. No caller ID to know who it was. I discovered the garage door was open… (must’ve hit the clicker in my purse when I was reaching for my keys.) How odd, I thought. But then, I get that my own personal garage door of past memories, slights, and embarrassments has been opened wide. I’m shedding light on those old boxes stored away deep inside. Not some glaring construction light that has to do with fixing. Rather a soft dappled sunlight that says “it’s over now. You are safe. You can come out of hiding.”

Then I found myself checking email and catching the odd video link here and there on Twitter and Facebook that catches my fancy. It’s a kind of warmup ritual (that serves double duty of procrastination ritual) for me and it gives me something to post to each stream.  I came across music session videos on Huffington Post and I clicked on Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now.

I was that person at one time and I have had a hard time reconciling with that self and her behavior; the neediness, the addiction to someone, the pain of the attachment, the lack of control that had me make a phone call that only leads to more shame and  pain.  I love the song, bought the CD, but never let myself fully feel it. Today, I was able to watch the video, listen to the words, feel the emotion, recognize it as if looking in a mirror, and not turn away. I can accept that I’ve been there and done that. Really, who hasn’t?

And so, with the help of a dream, a bit of space and time, loving guides, meditation, gentle whispers and winks from the Universe, and Lady Antebellum, I have discovered that my body, mind, spirit and heart have opted to spend the day aligning, integrating and moving toward the next greater wholeness of my being. Who am I to argue with their wisdom?

I took my car to the shop for maintenance. My soul created sacred space for its “vehicle’s” healing and I am re-membering innocence.

What will you re-member today? What disowned part of you gets to come home and rest in the vast loving space of your heart?


copyright (c) May 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (includes images, but not youtube video)

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“You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, mix them!” – Hafiz

What do three friends, a book, a dozen squabbling woodpeckers, three caterpillars, Neale Donald Waslch and Joni Mitchell have to do with each other? Anything and everything and they have all conspired to lift me to a new level of awareness. They have at once been the container and the ingredients of a personal insight. Do you have a few minutes? Here’s the story and a little music too…

There are some big changes afoot for me, big decisions to be made and I will be writing about them; revealing more as the weeks go by.

Decision making is not my strong suit, or has not been thus far. What I notice is that I will receive an incredible opportunity, get very excited and then begin the downward spiral of analysis paralysis. The rabbit that takes me down that hole is my fear of making a mistake, of being sorry I made the choice I made, finding out there was something better, feeling trapped.

Well, at least I thought that was my fear. And it is. At least it is the trunk of the tree of that fear. I got a clear insight that it was not the true fear when the first friend, Pemma, asked me “So, what if you do make a really big mistake?” I started to laugh. I didn’t know why in the moment, but I knew that the answer was simply, then I walk away and do something else. For a shining moment, my fear of making a mistake, even a really big one, had vanished, poof!

Later, my friend Joette, sent me an email and asked what the root of my fear was. I set it aside for further musing. Sometimes the mere invocation of a question allows an answer to reveal itself down the road.

Fighting Woodpeckers

Acorn Woodpeckers (K J Loh)

I stepped outside to photograph the dozen or so Acorn Woodpeckers squabbling over territory. Woodpeckers are symbolic of mental activity (red caps) and these completely mirrored my inner experience of the discord between my body, mind, spirit and heart, not to mention my higher and lesser selves. My mind was in a distortion spin cycle. Several of the woodpeckers were drumming loudly and furiously on trees and posts. Their drumming encouraged me to invite new rhythms into my life.

That afternoon, I was scanning the book The Trance of Scarcity to gather some abundance momentum, muster up some courage for risk-taking, and remind me that living small creates smaller living. Author Victoria Castle tells a story of a trip to Yosemite. She writes of wanting to take in all the grandeur and beauty on her day of departure. She tries to breathe it in, but can’t seem to hold it, to keep it. As she walks back to her cabin disappointed, she hears something rumbling deep inside.” She stops to listen and hears,

“How about if you let us absorb you?”

She then allows the majesty of Yosemite to absorb her and that is how she “knew the oneness [she] had longed for.”

Reading these words, I knew that I would not lose what I was leaving behind, if I allowed it to absorb me. I don’t have to try to pack it all into my memory or find some way to take it with me or recreate it. I can be absorbed by it and know that, in our oneness, these days, these places, these experiences, these people are always with me as I am with them.

Later, my friend Alicia held a beautiful space of mindfulness in our conversation and I got in touch with how my wounded ego uses drama to scare me; the drama and pain of good-byes. I also discovered how I make up that I need to suffer mightily in letting go to prove my love for something or someone.  It can’t look like it was too easy. Alicia reminded me to express and receive gratitude for these people, places and times and release the drama and story about goodbyes that create suffering.

Neale Donald Walsch’s message for the day read:

On this day of your life, dear friend, I believe God wants you to know…

…that when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it

is not beneficial to go out and build more tunnel.

Cocoon/chrysalis copyright (c) April 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Dissolved (K J Loh)

I thought of the third caterpillar that had crawled across my driveway, up the front wall of my house and attached itself a fair distance from two others, to begin its metamorphosis. When we have been through the chaos of transformation, why would we want to create more darkness for ourselves? Why would we not wholly embrace the emergence as a winged creature feeding on the nectar of life? The only answer I can come up with is fear.

I return to Joette’s question, what is the root? What is the threat my wounded ego holds over me regarding mistakes? The answer came through:

If you make a mistake I will never forgive you. I will shame you and berate you for your stupidity. I will punish you mightily.

I used to do that to myself, but it’s hardly how I am with myself now. It’s more an old habit than a current reality. It’s a flinch with no punch to back it up.  I think this is why I could see it. The root is no longer submerged in my unconscious. I am aware of my self-talk and have changed it to be more nurturing than critical.

I made a pact with myself that enabled me to move forward with my decision making process. I will love, respect and forgive myself if it turns out that I want to make a different choice in the future. I will not punish, berate or shame myself. I will make another choice and move on. I will look for the gratitude for all that the apparently mistaken choice has taught me.

You see, it’s not the mistake that feels so bad; it’s not the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s, themselves. It’s how mean we are to ourselves that scares us.

For me, this insight was an invitation to release the delusion that mistakes have to inflict painful consequences; that learning is painful and if you don’t feel enough pain, you haven’t learned much.

I awakened the next day at peace and the woodpeckers had stopped squabbling. Only the original family remained.

When we contract, we pull in our energy, our world gets small, our thinking becomes circular or numbed by habit. We become an energy vortex, sucking things in an inward spiral. We feel the pain of separateness. There is never enough of anything and at the same time we refuse and are even blind to all that is offered to us.

When we expand, our energy grows; alchemy and synthesis are available to us. The world becomes a friendlier place; even enchanting. Our thinking evolves and there is always enough. We are open and we receive. We know we are not separate.

The important thing to remember is that contracting and defending in order to create a sense of safety actually results in less safety.  It’s dangerous territory when you live with a sense of “me against the world.”

And Joni Mitchell? Where does she come in? As a post that came across my Facebook feed, it was yet another wink. Both sides now – child and adult – before and after – caterpillar and butterfly.

The aspect of me that thinks there is such a thing as a mistake or a failure thinks there is something to know about life. Something to learn that will be the ultimate key for success and happiness.

What is there to know? Hindsight is not 20/20. It’s a story.

“It’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.”

And I have to say, in this moment, that feels darn good – a huge sigh of relief! The beauty of not knowing and not having to know leaves lots of room for play, exploration, adventure.

A caterpillar undergoes total dissolution in the chrysalis/cocoon. It becomes fully absorbed by its new form.

The chrysalis on my wall will be abandoned in 7 to 10 days.

I’m celebrating immersion and emergence!

What is the sound of butterfly wings clapping?

Butterfly Copyright(c)April2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

photo: K J Loh

Note: for more information about the symbolic meanings of butterflies and woodpeckers, see Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak.

copyright(c)April 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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In my last post “Birthing New Beginnings,” I wrote of my resistance to manifesting my ideas into form. When I pondered the resistance, I discovered I had a fear of revisiting the deep trough of sadness I’d experienced a few years back in the form of a broken heart. Here is the continuation of that contemplation.

There is no long story to this. It’s pretty simple really in all its complexity. The bottom line is: I am not afraid of a broken heart. The breaking of my heart is not what caused my protracted misery. What I realize is that my own attachment to the misery, my attachment to the people, story, identity I did not want to release, my refusal to leave the chrysalis and emerge anew was what caused my pain.

There is this voice within that is not so pleasant. Some call it a gremlin, saboteur or inner critic. Others call it the negative ego or distorted voice. Whatever we call it, it still stinks. It is sly, conniving, a shape-shifter and, at times, downright malicious. I have experienced this voice as an energy that comes over me.

I remember sitting at the breakfast counter in a house I was staying in and feeling this energy pummeling me. I was in pain. I was crying. I felt myself a total victim to it. My whole body was contracted and, though I knew it would pass, for the moment I was under its spell.

I remember another time, just getting ready to go to sleep at a beautiful retreat in Punta Mita, Mexico. I could feel the energy hovering over me, ready to come in for the attack. I simply said “No, not this time.” The energy left and I drifted off to a deep and peaceful sleep. It was a pivotal moment for me; one in which I had finally stood up to my negative ego.

Moon 8_28_09

(c) Kathy J Loh

Most days, if the negative ego begins to speak to me, I hear it, I recognize it, but I don’t fall under its spell. The only spells I experience are the ones I am so under that I don’t even know it. I am a fish in the waters of the spell. Others may be able to see it, but I don’t, until I do.

This is where contemplation becomes essential. My daily sessions of going within are intended to help me awaken more and more to truth and release myself from the grip of delusion and illusion.

Once I had made the distinction between fearing a broken heart (a normal rite of passage in life) and wallowing in it because of attachments and shadowy archetype reactions, I was able to stumble upon a gem of enlightenment. I say stumble upon, because I was actually out hiking when it hit me and I stopped in my tracks and gasped out loud.

I am not afraid of a broken heart. I am not even afraid of becoming attached to my sadness. What I am afraid of, that which is trying to spook me, is my own self-loathing. I saw it. My negative ego is powerful only in direct proportion to my own self-loathing and my willingness to be mean to myself.

(note: I notice that after I wrote that last sentence, I got up and went to do a load of laundry. It’s not easy sitting with the fact that I have and experience self-loathing.)

It was my delusions of worthlessness, and of being unlovable that took me down.  Those delusions had me grasping for identities, people and things to earn and somehow give to me worth and love. I was under the horrific notion that I could fill those needs out there in people, things and doings.  (Yes, we all do it and that does not make it any less horrific.) It’s a downward spiral. Once the negative ego had me, the self-loathing led to more of the same.

What stopped me in my tracks was not so much the discovery of the truth beneath the ruse, but the simultaneous liberation that accompanied it. I don’t loathe myself anymore, not like that. I don’t despise myself so much that I am willing to tolerate days of misery bullied by my negative ego.

For over a year, I have faithfully practiced the “I Love You” exercise I made up and wrote about in an earlier post. I have found and used my nurturing parent voice. (thanks to Lucid Living) I have rewritten my story, forgiven others and most importantly, myself. In truth, my heart has cracked as widely open with joy as it has with pain.

I love myself and this life I am living. And I trust myself. This is the crux of the discovery.

I trust myself not to create protracted pain for myself from a place of self-loathing.

I trust myself to laugh at my foibles, to lean into the support of friends and unseen allies.

I trust myself to be nurturing, kind and loving to myself and others.

I trust myself to speak honestly to others and myself and to be compassionate rather than rescuing or demeaning.

I’m still on that journey. I’m still learning and growing. There are more illusions to dispel. I trust myself every step of the way. If a big wind comes and knocks me sideways, I trust myself to love myself through it. I know I will find my footing again.

This is the celebration, the return at the end of my Hero’s Journey; this particular journey within the broader journey. Because I now know that I love and trust myself, I also celebrate, honor and respect myself. In so doing, I also celebrate, honor and respect others and all of life. I celebrate the miracle of life and the miracle that is me.  I am aware of the preciousness of life, of breath and the wonder of the human spirit.

This self-loathing piece is slippery. When I look in the mirror and I catch myself thinking mean things about how I’m aging, how my body is changing; when I look around my office and berate myself for the disorganization; I know I am being unkind. There are times when my desire to improve myself mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, is not truly generated from love. It is born of a lack of self-acceptance, of conditional if-then love and comparing myself with others or with commercial standards.

Here’s how I can tell the difference.

If there is a resonance of self-loathing, I have resistance. A duality of imprisonment and over-indulgence takes shape in my behaviors. It shows up in statements that begin with words like “I must, I need, I should, I deserve, I’ve earned” and it feels really hard which leaves me feeling really entitled. My energy is depleted.

If I am celebrating the miracle of life and living, I have no resistance to taking exquisite care of myself in all of my practices be they mental, physical, spiritual or emotional. If I am loving myself, it feels clean, good, honest and true to exercise and eat right; to clean my home and even to say no to someone’s request of me.  My energy is replenished and vital.

I like to imagine consciousness having created each of us from an urge for a unique expression. Now, as that unique expression manifested into form, consciousness marvels at itself, through us and through our senses.

I choose to celebrate.

My mantra for the week has been to ask “How is this celebrating the miracle of me?”

I offer it to you as a practice:

How is this next action, this thought, these words you are about to speak celebrating the miracle of life and the miracle of you?

You are amazing!

copyright(c) February 2010, Kathy J Loh  All Rights Reserved

Put on your dancing shoes. Here’s a little song for you:

I’m Amazing by Keb’ Mo’ (Keep it Simple) (written by Keb’ Mo’ and Robbie Brooks) Samples on the site.

(sometimes the word “true” appears as “drue.”)


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I had quite the Solstice (and birthday) weekend. Rather than the usual adventures with friends and rituals for planting the seeds of my intention, I experienced an emotional roller-coaster ride as I released more residue from my, gosh-I-don’t-even-recognize-myself-in-it-anymore past.

It fascinates me how things converge in a 48 hour period. Solstice is a portal. It’s a time of releasing the old and moving toward the new vision with powerful intentions and discipline in thought, word and action. Saturday morning, I pulled the angel card Signs. It was a reminder to pay special attention that day. Those of you who read my blog know that I write about getting our information from the world around us. Our reality is our feedback and signs are what stand out to us as messages or pieces of a bigger puzzle.

In my meditation, I discovered an energy ball of anger still lingering in my heart from a brief love affair I had after my marriage was over. As I worked with it, I bumped into a piece of my shadow and I brought it home. I was ready to take responsibility for some rather less-than-attractive behaviors. Doing so, released the anger and I felt a space open in my heart. I asked the angels what would replace that anger ball and they said, “That’s the space where love can come in.”

Then, I got a surge of signs:

  • My landlord was clearing out the garage and having to move some of my things to do so. The garage houses boxes of things from my “past life” as a music teacher, as a wife and owner of a home much larger than where I live now.
  • An abandoned bird nest lying on the trail on my walk
  • A Jay mimicking the cry of a hawk
  • That same Jay dive-bombed by a hummingbird
  • A skeleton of a baby deer, fresh in the last 48 hours, reminding me I’d dreamed of a baby mountain lion the night before

I was being informed of clearing away the old, empty nests, trickery, camouflage and death.

Empty Nest 6/20/09

Empty Nest - (Kathy Loh)

  • While floating in the pool, I was entertained by a brilliant red-orange dragonfly darting here and there overhead
  • By way of a complete fluke, I discovered my ex-husband had remarried last December
  • A hawk landed in the tree right outside my window
  • I sighted the first set of baby quail for the season
  • Butterflies of many varieties danced with the warm summer breeze

I was informed of big picture, vision, gliding on the current, nurturing, sentinel, transformation and re-birth.

The discovery of my ex’s marriage stunned me. My body took a hit and my heart was tender. I knew it was a final piece that had to be experienced in order to move forward in my now, much happier and much more peaceful life.  Add to this, Father’s Day reminding me of how much I miss my dad who passed almost 2 years ago. Grief knows no completely predictable timetable  and there are moments when a little more love, a little more loss, a little more hurt or anger needs to be wrung from the heart.

That was all on Saturday.

That night I asked for a closure dream. I got it. I also dreamed of snakes; rattlesnakes, anacondas, water moccasins and two very large non-poisonous snakes. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I have an affinity with snakes, but in this dream, I knew I had to kill the rattlesnakes or they would come back. Snakes are about rebirth.

Sunday morning, Solstice, I pulled my daily angel card and for the 6th time in 9 days, I pulled New Beginnings. “Hey, angels, you don’t need to hit me over the head with it. Or do you…?”

As I continued to work with signs and images, I got clear that Solstice is not always a lovely, easy, day in which we get to lightly and brightly even if powerfully lay the foundation for our future. Sometimes there are energies to be cleared, like grief, anger, and hurt. This can make things a bit, if not very, jangly.

It’s where we hold our focus that makes a powerful difference. I had the choice of going down with the sadness and the misery or holding gratitude for where I am now and focusing on my heart’s desires for the future.  I wanted to hold my focus on the visions I’ve been developing and can see so clearly.

I could feel the saboteur archetype lurking, like a pack of hyenas restless and pacing, licking their chops. They were just waiting for me to get weak enough to fall easy prey to their attack. When those hyenas pounce, it’s a downward slide into the depths of victimhood and hopelessness.

I could hear the dialog in the back of my mind trying to muscle its way into the whole of my experience.  I could see the images from my past trying to get a toehold on my outlook. Yet, when my saboteur tried to convince me of the sad story, my authenticity Geiger counter rejected it as no longer true. It just kept registering as old story; boooor-ing….

Still, it took discipline for me to turn my gaze away from those visuals of someone taking my place in my old life, my old house, my old garden and toward the place of gratitude for the abundance of joy, ease and love I have in my life today.

It took discipline to hold love for my inner child who was upset about not having a happy birthday and pouted, “I didn’t even get chocolate cake.”

It took discipline to hold at bay the constriction of blame and breathe into the lovely expansive energy of love and goodwill I’ve felt for my ex-husband and ex-love in recent weeks.

It took discipline for me to turn down the volume of the internal dialog that binds me to the past and turn up the volume on the dialog with my soul and my creative impulses.

It’s discipline, pure and simple and I’ve come to define discipline as being a disciple to my soul.

How does this story end?

It ends in a wonderful Sunday afternoon shared with a friend hiking my favorite trail, engrossed in meaningful conversation. It ends with dinner and my hosts toasting me, my birthday and solstice.

And wouldn’t you just know it….I got to make a wish and blow out the candles on my chocolate birthday cake!

PS – thank you to all the wonderful friends who sent me birthday greetings and called me. You are the wealth in my life, true earth angels!

(angel cards I use daily: Healing with the Angels by Doreen Virtue)


Copyright(c) June 2009, Kathy Loh, All Rights Reserved

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