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Posts Tagged ‘inner 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?

interesting image

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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“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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It has been 2 months since I posted.  I’ve been enjoying quite the social whirlwind since I returned to Marin: dinner dates, movie dates, parties and hikes. I’m having a blast.

I’ve written so many posts in my mind, but none have made it to print. So much to say. Where to start? I’ll start here:

The question people most ask me these days is, “Are you all settled in?” The first two weeks the answer was, “not yet.”  I was pining for the trails, the beach, the owls, the dogs, stars and quiet. I was worried that the din of neighborhood traffic and star-minimizing light pollution, including the glare of numerous street lamps in the area, would be insufferable. I feared I’d made a horrible mistake.

As I investigated that fear, I discovered that the only mistake would be beating myself up for the decision I’d made, not letting myself off the hook. Once I realized that, my fear dissipated as I promised myself that no matter what,  I’d be kind to me.

For those first weeks, most of my “settling in” entailed getting things out of boxes, many of which had been stored for nearly 5 years. At my old place, every time I’d set aside a day to go through the boxes I’d hit an obstacle: workers in the yard, new roofing over the garage, a party on the ponderosa, something else to do, that kind of thing. Most often, though, the obstacle was the sick feeling in my stomach whenever I opened one. The overwhelming aroma of memories and uncertainty would send me reeling out the door and down the hiking trail for some fresh air. I cultivated a strong sense of “manana.”

copyright (c) 2010 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

Moving van on moving day

When I started getting the urge to move, I promised myself I’d muster up the courage to go through those boxes. I did not want to pay for their portage to a new garage.  But, the opportunity to move came more quickly than motivation and so, they moved with me. Truthfully, with all the space I have now, I’ve discovered that there isn’t that much to release.

For the first time in 5 years, all of my books are on shelves. All of the music equipment is up and I have plenty of space to spread out. Even my belly feels better with the space between me and the furnishings in my larger home. I have been calling this the “let’s see” house. Let’s see which of all my past identities, and the tools of the trade that go with them, will survive. I’m not going to force anything.

The boxes hold memories, but they also hold surprises. I forgot I had water goblets and dessert glasses. I rediscovered some artwork, most of my cookbooks, table linens, décor and candles. It was like getting married all over again without the hassle of a husband. I actually like most of these things, so I’m glad I kept them during my “downsized” years.

I feel the same way about me and who I’ve been and become, before and during my five years of relative solitude. I’m rediscovering neglected delights.

Here I am, in the house I lived in 15 years ago, revisiting my past in so many ways. I’ve done healing work with the younger me who lived here in those years. I’ve rediscovered the walks I used to take in the neighborhood. The same neighbors live here and remember me (as I do them). I’ve rewound and spliced. The new story (of which I wrote in the last post) is taking shape.

There’s one box that surprised me; a box bigger than all the rest (and paradoxically smaller). It’s the box around me. I’m discovering how rigid I’ve been with myself; all these rules and opinions; what’s OK and what’s not. When a possession has been in a box for five years, it makes sense that re-connecting with it will lead to observations of what’s the same and what’s different about the me that lived with it then and the me that is choosing to live with it now (or not).

I find myself musing over and over again, “I used to think (fill in the blank). What was that about?”

One of the rules my rigid self holds is that I have to get rid of things. Once I decided to let go of having to let go, I no longer worried about my identity. If my ego wants to identify itself by the things I own, it follows that I either have to use them and be that or let them go and be something/someone else. But today, I see it as just stuff. I’ll use it or I won’t and it will go when it’s time. I’m just me being who I am and the more I settle in to that, I suspect my relationship with stuff will shift without forcing anything.

Even my social activities are informing me of how I’ve changed. I’m more extroverted than I thought. I’ve gotten used to neighborhood noise and actually find it somewhat comforting. I like living within walking distance of a small downtown. Today while I was sweeping the leaves, the neighbor was mowing. Something about that makes the work easier. At night, the once dreaded streetlamp creates beautiful dancing tree silhouettes on my walls.

As I reflect upon the process of un-boxing my belongings, I realize something is happening to me too.

I am un-boxing my belonging.

Post-script:

I now have a small room dedicated to meditation. In my contemplation today, I visualized myself in a box. The paintings on the inside of that box were all the things I have told myself is me and images that represent the rules; right down to how to dress for my figure type and other women’s magazine advice.  Above me was the ceiling I have put on joy, prosperity, income, happiness.

I imagined the box falling open, looking much like the diagram of how a box looks before it gets folded up into six sides. I watched the unfolding as the top blew off and the sides shriveled up and fell off like the petals of a spent rose. There I was, standing atop a stem, naked to all possibility. For a moment it was a bit unnerving; too vulnerable. I understood, in that moment, why I created the box; the illusion of safety and security, a sense of belonging that is represented by the box and everything in it.

Then, the stem fell away and there I was with no sense of past or future, no sense of beginning or end. My mind wanted to go to form. “What does it look like? What can we have? How can we get that? Who can we be? How do we become that?” I was aware of my thoughts and how enticing the bait was, aware too that the bait dangled on a very sharp hook.

At the same time, there was so much peace, so much safety, security and true belonging in this un-boxed, undefined, unlimited presence. Ego also wants to say, “This is perfection, this presence. How can I get more of that?”

More bait.

Settling in and getting un-boxed, I am watching when I dig in and when I vacate. I notice when I put up pretty murals that tell me who I am and how easy it is to replace one box with another even if the ceiling is higher. I am aware of boxes others like to put me in and how they subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) request that I police my behavior to keep them comfortable and make them right. I notice how I am tempted to comply.

I watch.

I notice.

I become aware.

It’s a practice.

Copyright © August 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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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 have a morning practice of journaling, pulling an angel card and meditation/contemplation. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal about the myriad of irritations that I’ve been experiencing, wondering “what’s the feedback?” What am I getting out of feeling so “put upon” that I continue to gather these small annoyances?

I decided to take it to meditation, but first I pulled an angel card for the day. Now, I’ve been doing this for so long, that it has evolved into something really amazing. The card almost always responds, in some way, to what I’ve just written. In addition, the cards right in front of and behind the card I pull (the wing cards) give me greater detail by way of the perspective they bring to the first card.

I opened the Healing with Angels card box and pulled out the deck. I noticed something in the bottom of the box. What’s this? A flea! A flea was in the angel card box. How did that get in there? I don’t have pets. (The dog I walk with belongs to my neighbor.) In my 4 years here, I’ve never seen a flea (and I would know if they were here because I’m highly allergic).

I tried to grab it to give it a good squeeze, but it hopped on to the side of the bed. I grabbed it again, but its beautifully evolved hard shell would not bend to my will. It jumped out from between my fingers and onto the carpet. I got out the vacuum and have no idea what kind of life that flea is or is not living now.

I went on to pull a card: Miracles (between Blessings and Guardian Angel)

Fleas are pretty amazing little creatures with barbed hairs that enable them to stick to animals like Velcro and they jump over 100 times their height. They even perform somersaults while leaping. They are hardy and they cause misery. It’s a miracle of creation, a miracle that it was in my angel card box.  Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and, at first glance, they may not appear to be miracles.

The angel card informs me:

“Miracles are occurring all around you right now. Begin to notice them, and you will experience even more miracles.”

Taking into account the shoulder cards, Blessings and Guardian Angel, I make up that miracles will be more visible to me when I count my blessings and accept the support of my Guardian Angels. I am blessed and I am not alone.

I am not seeing the miracles for the “fleas.”

When one itch arises, I think I have to flee.

When I see one flea, I think “oh no! It’s an invasion. They are going to overrun the place!”

Isn’t that just how I have been viewing the little irritations in my days lately? Stringing them together like beads, creating for myself a nice little choke-chain.  Trying to control everything and everyone and getting really angry when they won’t let me. I’m choking myself into isolation and insolation.

About the flea, I hear, “Remember, it came from The Mystery.”

Circumstances, too, often arise from The Mystery.

What if these circumstances, which I experience as annoying, are miracles?

Sunset Pond - trees, reflected

What's Real? (K J Loh)

In the ensuing meditation, I viewed my life from what I call the Angels’ perspective. (Those of you who get the Mystery Messages may be reminded, here, of the Merlin Hawk message.)

While holding myself as blessed and protected, I was able to see that what I get out of all this itching from the flea-like circumstances is an opportunity to suffer. Suffering supports my inner martyr. (Victim or martyr; choose your poison.) It allows me to blame, collect pity and sympathy, punish other people, throw temper tantrums, and a wide variety of other strategies to avoid taking responsibility for my life and my happiness. Basically, it is the perspective that the world is out to get me and I am bending over backwards to accommodate it, while never being able to have a day go the way I want it to. “Look at me! I’m covered in flea bites and it itches like crazy! How can you expect me to be happy?”

Here’s the kicker. My martyr voice tells me that taking responsibility will lead to suffering and struggle. It’s too hard!

Hello? Uhm…..isn’t that what martyr is doing? It’s causing me to struggle and suffer to avoid suffering and struggling. Huh?

The meditation/contemplation continued with many more insights around betrayal, anger, abandonment; all really juicy stuff. Suffice it to say, I found that all the people and circumstances were completely transformed when I transformed how I saw them.

I forgave myself for a long list of ways I twist what is into something to rail against. I took that choke-chain off. I saw my life on a big screen as it would be without martyr. I could not think it. I just sat and watched. It’s the same picture, but the feeling is different. I realized, I can’t get there through martyr. Suffering, trying to control and struggling will only lead to isolation, loneliness, and constriction. The point to martyr is to never get there anyway.

Suffering is highly over-rated. Struggling is highly over-rated.

Today’s angel card reminds me to open my eyes and see the miracles happening all around; those amazing events and people sent by The Mystery, which I’ve refused to see in order to support struggle, suffering and misery.

I can hold my goals and visions very tightly, like putting myself into lock-down. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of a vortex; a drain spiraling inward.

I can hold my goals and visions lightly, with love, trusting that The Mystery is friendly and helpful; honoring my priorities, being real and joyful; taking responsibility. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of an outwardly expansive release of energy. (I’m reminded of my Open Hands Open Heart post)

I’ve done a lot of work around martyr and victim. I’ve been through workshops and years of coaching. I know both intimately. Yet, I still find myself in retreat from responsibility at times and that gives martyr a toe-hold.

Awareness is a practice.

Here is an exercise to support your awareness practice:

For the next few days, listen to your inner voice and notice what it is saying about everything that happens to you and how others are treating you. Write it down. Become familiar with your “favorite” sayings. Then review your inner voice’s general perspective.  Is it supporting your happiness or feeding your misery?

Copyright © February 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Got a flea bugging you? Coaching helps you gain insight around the obstacles you create to your own happiness. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary consultation for anyone seriously considering hiring a coach. Email me at: kathyloh@coachkathy.com

Re: photo – that’s a pond, reflecting the trees and fence which is why they appear upside down.

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Dear beautiful wonderful readers:

Here’s a little something that I hope casts golden sunshine your way!

We are all drops in the same ocean; uniquely exquisitely gifted drops sparkling in the sunlight, dancing in the moonlight, and we are all beautiful.

May this song, its sentiment, its dancing pulse and celebration wash over you and free you from any dark little hyper critical thoughts to which you may have been giving way too much air time.

Time for a bit of the truth!

I met the songwriter, Mark Shepard, on Twitter. That’s how I discovered this song, which I am now declaring one of my Best 2009 song finds. My heart is voting.

It’s a simple song, yes. And isn’t it all really that simple while deeply complex? Complicating things with drama just might be over-rated.

Thank you Mark!

(If you haven’t seen it yet, you might like to read my earlier post You are so Beautiful)

Copyright © Dec 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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