A recent solo journey through the streets and galleries of Paris revealed to me yet again, how self-judgement is a sneaky jerk! The inner critic can hide as ingredients in your breakfast, lurk in dark corners, overshadow sunny picnics, and loves to syphon your energy surreptitiously; leaving you more tired and vulnerable at the end of the day.
Technically it’s born of the survival instinct to keep you safe. Akin to the concept of keeping you alive it is hyper-vigilant to (perceived) threat, so it also detests change and growth. Sometimes we call it resistance, sometimes it goes by the inner critic, but always self-judgement is an aspect of it’s distinct voice.
As our lives have become so safe and comfortable in the modern world of privilege, it’s function is no longer constantly needed to detect true danger; so, it gets bored and starts shooting fish in a barrel.
“You did that wrong again!? Crap, you missed the deadline, I can’t believe you submitted a spelling mistake; can’t you even pick a decent shirt to wear? You were supposed to be farther along by now. What’s wrong with you?” And it goes on and on and on. These Familiar refrains are the overarching battle cry marching through your consciousness. It thrives on a steady diet of anxiety and fuels self-doubt.
Shame can be a big culprit here, along with ego, unresolved trauma, learned behaviours; these things serve to amp up the judgemental critical voice.
You judge things you want to reject in yourself.
Often your vulnerability.
It is exhausting. And discouraging.
So how can you stay wise to this sneaky jerk and its ways?
Dispel its discouraging effect?
In a simplistic way, to counterbalance it, stay connected to a source that encourages you. Ultimately, that can be where the voice of your own self-compassion takes charge. We need to cultivate our sovereignty, especially in what we choose to focus on.
Stay connected to a source that encourages you while you strengthen this inner voice. It is the essence of how to stay in your courage—how to build your courage.
This life requires a great deal of courage.
Your personal work demands a great deal of courage from within you.
With all the pain and upheaval in the world, humans continue to enact history from a place of polarities-creating instability and a climate dominated by fear. These polarities are not only ‘in
the other’ ‘out there’ but in fact, live within you.
Stay true to your intention and trust you have what it takes. Bit by bit, you build strength in increments. Courage amplifies through engagement,
it grows through taking action.
It is easy to get triggered and give up,
Turn away in anger, hurt or righteous indignation--
But where does that shadow defensiveness take you?
Right back to the stuckness, The old programming of the wound.
The place of flatness, the restless you,
who can’t quite reach what you need--
To get past this frustration, is a solo journey within.
Because, in order to grow we must stretch beyond what is currently comfortable. And this is where the inner jerk shows up in fear and pumps up the volume. Simply choose to listen to a different tune.
As I observed in my travels how sneaky the critic was,
I could then shift it. Confront it. Release it.
Speaking your truth in kindness requires courage.
Setting healthy boundaries takes courage. Showing up for yourself,
for your family, for your partner—takes courage.
Show up vulnerably -with an open heart - a willingness to be changed. That is the edge of your courage.
You are braver than you know,
Valentine’s brings up the theme of love, often sold to us in a costume of pink toxic nostalgia. In order to deepen the experience, we have to step out of marketing schemes of bottled romance and start first, with ourselves. Loving ourselves more completely, our self-worth deepens by one, keeping our promises to ourselves. Not neglecting self-care. Understanding our own boundaries so we can then show up more fully in our relationships. More vital, attuned, loving.
How well do you care for yourself? What is it you avoid most?
Are you in pain every day? Oftentimes, we don’t even realize the pain we're in because we move so fast--we move so fast, so we don't have to feel that pain—or feel anything. We think so fast, so we don't have to feel the pain; we talk so fast, we eat so fast, we drink so fast, and we drive fast....
We just go, go, go because we don't want to realize we're in pain. We’re in pain, whether it is our own or feeling the effect of everything going on in the world.
We may feel alone, we feel separate, we feel judged, or attacked, yet we know in our bones it's not our true nature. Unconsciously we feel guilty, and alone. This is how resistance to our light and love shows up. This is how we unwittingly block love.
We become blocked to the presence of love because we become so faithful to the presence of fear.
Judgment, attack thoughts, fear, a feeling of separation, they all block us from the connection we long for. Resistance arrives. Our unconscious safety mechanism-designed to avoid pain, yet it keeps us stuck.
Life is the perpetual dance between our greatest desire and our greatest fear. We might feel, ‘everybody else has it under control but we don’t....’ so we create blocks. Often unwittingly. Sometimes intentionally.
When we feel this doubt, loathing, and judgment, we have simply forgotten the love we have within us. We have forgotten the power of gratitude, appreciation, tenderness, joy, kindness and creativity that are all within us.
What needs to be released to come home to your radiance? Your light?
To come back to the knowing of the body?
“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness
the astonishing light of your own being.”
We all have the same problem—resistance, fear. And we all have the same solution; which is that we can return to love. To compassion. We are in this together. Focus on loving yourself and being compassionate in community, whether you are single, coupled, throupled or undetermined.
What if you broaden the definition of love and understanding love as a cosmic force of nature. Care. Awareness. Respect. A flow state. This Valentine’s ask yourself, ‘where are you blocking love? Unwilling to receive care from yourself or another?’ Our lives are shaped by the questions we are willing to ask.
If you are lonely, Ask yourself, what can you do for another? If you are in a strained relationship, think of a way to extend the olive branch and some deeper appreciation to them. If you are coming to terms with the completion of a relationship, soak in all you've learned from that experience.
Adding up your subtle shifts can create radical transformations. Keep your promises to yourself, and have your own back first.
Affirmations for the week ahead:
I release any negative energy that I no longer want to be in.
I stretch beyond my limiting beliefs...
I choose to love myself fully.
I make love a habit; I see my relationships through the lens of love.
Feeling my feelings sets me free.
Rest restores me to my highest self.
If you want something new to listen to try this podcast episode on "Have You Considered?"
And if you are looking for a relationship tune-up to support your couples therapy or simply tweak your connection to the next level of intimacy check out my 21-day Couples Tune-Up Online Course here:
Couples Tune-Up - NORMA HOEPPNER (soulbrush.ca)
Not all great love stories involve humans.
With so much encouragement,
P.S. Please feel free to pass this along to any friends or colleagues you feel might be interested or benefit.
On the threshold of spring equinox and another change of season, check in with yourself –where are you stagnant? Feeling resistance? Where are you joyous? Are you beginning to feel the life force flowing stronger again, just as the sap in the sugar maples has begun to run, with sweetness and nourishment.
I’ve had a particular fascination with liminal space in the past 4 months. This space between endings and a new beginning. Simply letting myself lean in, allow and explore. Sometimes we find ourselves there, through no choice of our own. Leading gently with meditation and reflection as the tools to ask ourselves, ‘how does it feel to navigate psychological liminal space?’
What am I even talking about you ask?
Liminal is latin for threshold. In architectural terms it is spaces between; doorways, hallways –places of transit or holding. Liminal space refers to a place or person enduring a transitional phase or period. It refers also to rites of passage –anthropologically and psychologically. Marriage, divorce, childless to a child born, death--passages from one place to another—moving, uprooting, unemployment, graduating......
they are times with associated rituals and markers...
New Year’s eve and Birthdays among them.
It’s a gap. In physical form like a doorway, or a hallway that explores transition, or emotional/psychological like a divorce or a death, or metaphysical like a decision.
It’s also a gap, such as the ethereal space between your inhalation and exhalation. A profound part of the breath cycle, when you tap in deeply. Make peace with this space. Breathe more fully into this space.
This is also where metamorphosis happens.
Everything has a beginning, middle and end. Where are you most comfortable? Familiar? It can be unsettling when we are at a place during a time that's not routine. Unknown. Uncertain. The in-between. Out of the comfort zone.
This ‘betwixt and between’ can be unsettling.
The in-between a completion cycle and a new beginning, can often feel like you are suspended. Ungrounded. Even stalled, or stagnant. Expectant...perhaps even a forlorn atmosphere filled with nostalgic notes, full of the energy of both longing and letting go. The liminal space between ‘what was’ and ‘what’s next’.
Liminality: In essence, the experience of early pandemic was a global suspension in liminal space. Society was disorganized and overwhelmed, rife with uncertainty.
There is a psychological need to accord space, time and place for liminal feeling. (Although we often don’t).
As such, there are two main risks associated with liminal space – we either provide no ritual space at all in our lives to digest and integrate’-- or....we stay in it too long. Stuck.
Our cultural tendency is to bypass it altogether, speeding along as we do to the next thing. Ignoring our gnawing feelings and compartmentalizing to a fault.
Take an extra long exhale here.
Check in with yourself.
Do you tend to just, ‘push on’?
Twilight is a perfect example of liminal time –between day and night, emblematic of the middle ground between light and shadow. The polarity of light and shadow ties well to the tension between nostalgia, longing and letting go--
any liminal space requires transitional processing of the individual or group.
If liminal space then, is the space between one destination and the next—(an airport is the architectural holding tank of this concept)—how can you bring more acknowledgement and awareness to whatever passage you yourself are traversing? Completion of a cycle, likely comes with some grief and joy, the old compliment of mixed emotions. Even an ordinary heartfelt goodbye at an airport is usually layered.
Take an extra long exhale here. Check-in with yourself.
Allow. Allow. Allow.
Allow the breath to unleash feelings otherwise being swept away or hidden. These thresholds are significant in our lives, yet also mysterious. Unnerving. Allow the noticing; The honouring of this passage.
Why do we have so much trouble taking deep breaths?
Speed. Tension. Distraction. Overwhelm.
Are you good at taking time for digestion, acknowledgement and processing of cycles?
This space is a tenuous passage in which transformation is allowed to take place.
Allow. Allow. Allow.
At times it can be rough as in the play, “Waiting for Godot,” the characters vacillate between hope and hopelessness. It is a waiting period but different, as only through a condition of liminality can we often finally see the way forward.
If you’re feeling betwixt and between, simply embrace it and allow.
Hi there. Although I haven't posted a blog for a while, I wanted to wrap up 2021 with a brief reflection surfing the year-end vibes, to encourage a pause in your day; to integrate, to rest, to consider. We generally go at such a breakneck speed, this time of year is excellent to learn from our animal teachers, the bear for one, for much needed hibernation medicine. Slowing down. If you allow it. Give yourself the gift of permission to simply restore thyself this winter passage through solstice and beyond.