Inner Voice

“And did you get what
you wanted from this life even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” 

-Raymond Carver  

Do you have a voice in your mind, that may or may not sound like your own, that is criticizing, judgmental and even mean? That sees the worst in your actions and your attributes? Yeah, me too. I am sure that I am not the first person to point out that that voice in our heads is meaner to us than we would ever, EVER be to someone else. Sad, but very likely true. My self-care practice of kindness and nurturing towards myself is definitely a work in progress. I am up against decades of perfectionism and self-blame, both of which are issues I have tackled in my own therapy and personal reflection exercises for many years. Because my inner critic, like yours, in reality has fundamentally good intentions (to keep us safe), and because her messages of harsh disdain and judgment I believed would help motivate me to stay on the path of success and accomplishment (lots of reinforcement for that one), encouraging her to quiet down or at least soften has been a difficult practice to cultivate. This week, as I invite you all to contemplate the “A” in CARE — which stands for affection or affectionate — maybe try something that works for me even when my harsh inner voice is powerful and strong. It was one of my first self-compassion practices, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Here’s the gist — when you realize you are you are in pain — physical, emotional, spiritual — notice that you are suffering and say quietly to yourself, or even silently in your mind “Okay … it’s okay.” Use a gentle tone, even imagine talking to yourself like you would to someone you love. You can do this combined with a physical gesture (sometimes referred to as a soothing touch) like patting or gently rubbing yourself on the heart space, or clasping your hands together. Yes it is that simple, and actually works, by responding to our own pain with attention, acceptance and affection. In his seminal book The Mindful Path to Self Compassion, Chris Germer talks about freeing ourselves from destructive thoughts and feelings, and cultivating ways to meet difficult emotions from a place of kindness and love. He has created a guidebook to self-compassion that is accessible and effective. If you like the simple practice above, and want to learn more about self-compassion, check out his book or join us at Sacred Treehouse for our next MSC course this fall. With love — Nikki and the Sacred Treehouse faculty
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Nicole Davis is a licensed psychologist practicing at  Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis starts with the core belief that each person already has everything they need to live a life of joy and fulfillment, and that therapy is just a process of uncovering their inherent wholeness. Dr. Davis gently invites her clients to uncover their strengths in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Dr. Davis completed MBSR facilitator training through the Center for Mindfulness at UCSD. Dr. Davis is also a 200-hour trained yoga teacher registered with Yoga Alliance