All posts in Conversation with Self

  • Self-Compassion – The Power of a Pronoun

    In a coaching conversation earlier today, my client and I went on a journey that began with a messy situation (literally!) with her kids to which she reacted in anger and frustration, and ended with compassionate connection and self-support. Her inner dialogue shifted from a blame-based: “Why do I always…I never,” to a unity-based: “I’m with you…Let’s look at this together.”

    A pivotal moment leading to her inner shift came when she was able to experience herself as a “You” rather than just an “I.” Let me explain…

    When we refer to ourselves, we pretty typically use the pronoun, “I.” I did this, or I said that. When others refer to us, they use the pronoun, “You.” You did this, or You said that. Each of us, in fact, is both “I” and “You.” Big deal, you may say. The big deal comes when we think of ourselves in terms of “You.”

    • I extend to YOU the same kindness that I extend to other people.
    • I extend to YOU the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ that I extend to other people.
    • I recognize that YOU need my compassion, just like other people do.
    • I extend to YOU my understanding that I would extend to anyone else.
    • I extend to YOU the same forgiveness that I extend to other people.

    Consider that the YOU being referred to in the above statements is, well, you, the person reading this post. Now re-read the above five statements, this time, imaging yourself as the subject of each statement. Try inserting your own first name, such as: “De, I extend to you the same kindness that I extend to other people.”

    Wow. Feel a little strange, perhaps?

    As you said each statement aloud, some may have felt true or right. Others may have felt inauthentic or like a stretch for you to believe. In the case of the latter, there may be an underlying belief or assumption we are holding about ourselves that contradicts with the statement. For example, if saying, “I extend to you the same understanding that I would extend to anyone else,” has you thinking, “Yeah, right. No way can I do that!” you may be holding a contradictory belief, such as:

    • It’s not ok for me to make a mistake.
    • It’s not ok for me to need help or ask for help.

    Let’s just call these what they are – lies. It’s fascinating to press pause on the automatic conversation that unfolds in our minds throughout the day and write down the words we’re speaking to ourselves. Would we utter these words aloud to any other human being? Would we hold our best friend to the same unrealistic standards to which we hold ourselves (never make a mistake, never ask for help)?

    As I’ve shifted my view of myself to a YOU, I’ve been more and more able to replace the unkind self-talk with compassionate and supportive self-talk. Seeing myself as YOU, helps me remember that I too am a human being with valid needs, just like you are. I too am imperfect and doing my best, just like you are.

    Let’s close with a prayer.

    Heavenly Father, I pray that you will guide us as we journey along the pathway of self-acceptance and self-compassion. Help us to grow in loving relationship with ourselves. Thank you that You’ve made us each whole and in Your image. Please help us to see ourselves more clearly. To see ourselves as You see us, Lord; as we truly ARE.  Amen!

  • Be My Valentine

    This is a revised version of last year’s Valentine’s post, PLUS a new free download: Daily Affirmation Cards.

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

    Have you ever considered the idea of loving yourself the way God calls us to love all people? I mean, you too, are people, right? What if God’s command to ‘love one another’ includes loving ourselves?

    We can only give what we have. If my inner love reserves are low or empty, my capacity to love others is impacted. We’ve all had those days that call on us to give, nurture, listen, empathize, give, and give some more. My ‘giving’ begins to look and feel a lot different to the recipient as I become more tired and depleted. And my empathy starts to feel less and less empathetic and more and more impatient!

    Read more

  • Be Where You Are

    Zachary wants so badly to walk. He pulls himself up on everything, holds on with one hand, and…falls to the floor. The fact is, his body is just not ready for walking. He does not yet have the necessary balance or core strength.

    He does, however, have everything he needs right at this moment to crawl. But he doesn’t want to crawl. He sees the rest of us walking and it looks so amazing, so big, so enticing. Crawling…well, that seems so boring. Crawling is for babies 🙂
    IMAG0932

    I was having a little chat with him this afternoon telling him, Zach don’t fixate so much on walking. Keep working on the crawling! You’re not ready for walking yet. But THIS (crawling), this you could be doing right now! And you know what, in doing it, you’ll get what you want. You’ll be able to move from here to there all on your own! AND you’ll be preparing yourself for walking when the time comes.

    Hmmm…this sounds familiar…
    My conversation with Zach resembled many conversations I’ve had with myself. How many times have I wanted to skip over THIS and get right to THAT?

    “De, don’t fixate so much on that over there. Stay right here where you are. Don’t miss the opportunities presented by THIS present moment! You’re HERE because you’re not ready to be THERE yet.”

    While this is not usually the reality I want to be reminded of, it is the truth!

    The only place I can learn, grow, love, give, receive, LIVE is in this present moment.

    Thoughts for us to ponder:

    1. What does it mean to “trust the process?”
    2. What would it be like to limit your thinking about the past, your dreaming about the future, and completely immerse yourself in the present moment?
    3. What will you gain each time you bring your thoughts and your heart right back to NOW?

    We are meant to journey through life, not “arrive” somehow one day. Each step along our path readies us for what is to come, up around the next bend. The joy-full times and the difficult times. Each is a part of God’s plan and helps us grow in wholeness and holiness!

    May God bless you with His peace and presence!

    With love,
    De

    Sharing with: Wise Woman Link Up, Homemaking Link Up, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday

  • Watch the I Am-s

    Child-of-God,-square

    My coach (Jackie) and I were discussing the impact that self-perception has on one’s attitude, behaviors, relationships, peace-of-mind…frankly, everything! Self-perception is the way we tend to think about ourselves and what we believe to be true about ourselves. Whether our self-beliefs are conscious or not, they impact the way we show up in our relationships, our work, our parenting…again, everything!

    Jackie told me that when her now-grown kids were younger, she was vigilant about guiding their self-perceptions by listening for the way they spoke about themselves. In particular, she would repeatedly tell them to “watch the I am-s”.
    You know the ones:
    I am so stupid.
    I am so clumsy.
    I am not smart enough.
    I am ugly.
    I am a disappointment.
    I am bad.
    It’s incredibly important that we consistently redirect these negative self-beliefs. Two ways we can do this are:

    First, we help them take the negative focus off of him/herself and focus on the behavior instead. Here are a few examples:

    1. ‘I am so stupid’ becomes ‘that decision/behavior/choice was not a good one’.
    2. ‘I am so clumsy’ becomes ‘I sometimes drop things / fall / break things / etc’.
    3. ‘I am a disappointment’ becomes ‘I sometimes do things / say things that feel disappointing or that lead to disappointment’.

    By focusing on behavior, we can then guide our children to think through the circumstances differently. We can empathize with their feelings and empower them to make a new choice or try a different behavior, one that will lead to a more desirable outcome. For example, “yes, that choice didn’t work out so well. What would you do differently next time?” Or “I’m sorry you feel disappointed. I feel disappointed too, when xyz happens. What do you think we should do now?”

    Secondly, we help them develop a positive, affirming self-perception, by filling their hearts and minds with the truth of who they are. There is one “I Am” statement that will always be true about them (and about you!) –

    “I am a child of God.”

    And the beautiful reality of being a child of God means…
    I am loved by the King of the Universe.
    I am special to God.
    I am held in the palm of His hand.

    What else? Come up with some of your own. Say them aloud, over and over again. Tell your children each morning and every night as you tuck them into bed.

    And while you’re at it, tell YOURSELF too. We women face many external pressures and cultural stereotypes that try to tell us who we are and how we are supposed to be / think / feel. The awesome news is that we get to be intentional and choose who and what we will believe. And, we are better equipped to authentically guide our children’s positive self-perceptions when we first work on our own positive self-perception. So let’s start with ourselves. Below are a few helpers – an exercise, a printable, and a video – to guide you in exploring your own “I Am-s” and becoming more intentional about believing in the Truth of who God says you are.

    “My Self-Perception” Exercise

    1. Download the graphic “My Self-Perception Balloons” here and print it out.
    2. Set aside five or ten minutes a couple of times each day for the next 3 or 4 days. Grab a notebook or your journal and a pen. During these timeslots, follow the steps below:
      • Pray. Use this prayer here or one of your own: Heavenly Father, please guide this self-reflection time. Reveal to me my own thoughts and beliefs about myself. Reveal the inner messages I am telling myself. Most especially reveal those that are not serving me in my life now and those that are contrary to what You want for me to think and believe. Thank you, Father, for doing Your work in me. Amen.
      • Sit still, close your eyes, and take a few slow, deep breaths.
      • What thoughts are you aware of thinking? As you recall the events of the past couple of hours, what have you been telling yourself about YOU? Capture your inner conversation, any “I am” statements you tell yourself, and your self-perception beliefs in your journal or notebook.
      • Look at what you’ve written. Using the graphic you printed, write each “I am” statement and self-belief in a balloon. Include your thoughts that are limiting and dis-empowering, as well as those that are affirming and supportive. This will give you a visual of the primary beliefs and thought patterns currently creating your self-perception.
    3. Choose one limiting or dis-empowering “I am” belief that you are now ready to release. Ready to be super-intentional about no longer allowing that thought to impact how you are feeling about yourself or relating with others. Write this thought on the balloon that is floating away!

    Child of God Printable. Download your free copy of this graphic by clicking on the image of it below. Tape it to your mirror or someplace that you will look at it throughout the day and remember the truth of who you are.
    Child-of-God printable

    God’s Truths About You video. Take a couple of minutes to soak in these eternal truths!

  • Note to Self

    God’s Truths About You

    Ever been caught up in the “should’s” and “supposed to’s”? Beliefs and pressure about what you SHOULD do or SHOULDN’T do? How you’re SUPPOSED to feel or NOT SUPPOSED to feel? Our culture bombards us with unrealistic standards, stereotypes, and expectations that we feel pressured to conform to.

    We can get caught in a constant (practically relentless) conversation with ourselves that is laden with negativity, judgment, and self-criticism. When I first explored my own ‘habits of mind,’ I found that there were some routines and patterns repeatedly playing out:

    • Constantly reminding myself of how far behind I am and how much I am NOT getting finished today
    • A knee-jerk or automatic reaction of getting frustrated or annoyed with myself for making a mistake
    • Second-guessing myself and my decisions or choices
    • Comparing myself to others or against some cultural stereotype

    How about your inner conversation? Where is it positive, uplifting, and supportive? Where is it harsh, judgmental, or critical? Our pattern of self-talk begins to form when we are very young and continues to develop and become hard-wired into our neural circuitry throughout our lives. Here are links to two posts I’ve written previously that shed light on what’s happening within our brains when we are speaking to ourselves (whether aloud or silently) and why positive self-talk is so important.

    And So It Is
    Words To Live By
     

    Our Truth

    Recently, I’ve become more and more aware that ANY amount of negative thinking, judgment, or self-criticism is not aligned with the Truth of who I am. Our Truth has everything to do with God, how He created us and how He sees us still. He loves you (and me)! Cherishes us. Shelters us and holds us. Even on our worst days. Especially on our worst days.

    At my women’s retreats, we contrast cultural pressures and cultural messages of our day with the timeless, eternal TRUTHS of what God has to say about us. I created this video to show at these retreats – imagery, music, and God’s word – all pointing to His Truths about you. May today you remember and believe YOUR TRUTH.

    With love,
    De

  • Journaling Joys

    In this previous post, I wrote that a peaceful, content home environment is directly linked to a peaceful, content mom. One supports and facilitates the other. We know that this happens best when we moms make our own self-care a priority. In that post, I shared 9 self-care practices that help me to keep fuel in my emotional energy tank!
    Today, I write about my 10th practice:

    Journaling.

    I remember the first time I was asked to journal. I was away at a weekend workshop. It was early into the first day. The facilitators gave everyone a pen and a piece of paper and 20-minutes to sit silently and write about our expectations for the weekend.

    “20-minutes! What the heck could I possibly write that would take 20-minutes,” I remember thinking. I settled into my chair, took a few deep breaths, and then what happened was kind of weird. I had heard somewhere to just place the tip of your pen on the paper and trust that something will happen. So that’s what I did…
    And something DID happen! Words began to form on the page. A lot of words. And they were coming from me! This was over 10-years ago and I still recall my astonishment when the facilitator told us that 20-minutes was up. Already??
     

    The Magic Happens

    Something magical happens when we put pen to paper. The same “magic” that happens when we pray, meditate, or otherwise engage in mindfulness. It’s actually not magic, but science:

    “The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.”
    From http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721
     

    Five Benefits

    There are so many benefits of journaling. And I’m sure we each experience these benefits differently, as journaling is a personal, individual practice. Here are five benefits that I’ve experienced:

    First and most important (to me) is that journaling Gives voice to the Holy Spirit within me. When I begin my writing time with prayer, I call on the Holy Spirit to write His words through me. I want to know what is important – according to God – for me to bring into my full awareness through my writing time. Here’s my typical prayer: “Come Holy Spirit. Enlighten me and guide me. Reveal to me what You want me to know or think about during this quiet time. AMEN.”

    Allows me to become an observer of myself. Journaling is a way of holding my thoughts still so I can examine them and rewrite them if I want. I’ve discovered that some of my thought patterns were not very helpful – especially my thought patterns about myself (I wrote more about that here). As I’ve journaled, I’ve become very familiar with my underlying beliefs, assumptions, and automatic patterns of thinking. What was once unconscious, yet influential to my decision-making, is now within my conscious awareness.

    Helps clarify my thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside? Writing helps to quickly get in touch with my internal world. It’s a way of dipping beneath the thoughts of the moment & tuning into the thoughts that help me get to know myself and my needs/desires more deeply.

    Reduces stress. Writing about anger, sadness, and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. My journal gives me a place to release my daily frustrations so I don’t have to carry them around with me. I feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.

    Helps me think about challenges differently and solve problems creatively. Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing gives expression to yet unformed inner intuitions and wisdom and often leads us to a deeper level of discovery. And we just might stumble upon an unexpected solution to that seemingly unsolvable problem.

    In addition to these benefits, keeping a journal allows me to track patterns, trends and growth over time. I always find it fascinating to look at what I was journaling about a year ago. Where was I on my personal growth journey last year at this time? What was calling for my attention and intentions? And where am I now, with regards to those intentions?
     

    Start Anywhere

    You don’t have to have a fancy journal to get started. Grab a piece of looseleaf or any paper you have lying around. I “upcycle” my kids old copy books and notebooks, turning them into my journals. At the end of any given school year, they’re at best, half full. I’ve been making good use of the other half!

    And forget spelling and punctuation. You don’t even have to write in complete sentences! I’ve learned that I am a “stream of consciousness” thinker and writer. It’s important to just go with what’s coming up and not try to perfect it. That would pretty much defeat the purpose and might stifle the voice coming up from within.

    The MAGIC happens when we quiet our minds, still our inner chatter and give ourselves access to our own internal worlds. What discoveries and new possibilities await you?? I hope you’ll give yourself a chance to find out.

    With love,
    De

    Sharing this devotion with Motivation Monday, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Mom to Mom Encouragement, Wednesday Prayer Girls, Fellowship Friday,, Faith Filled Fridays, Joy of Nine Link Up

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  • Beautiful Because I Love

    Last week, I wrote about Loving ourselves and being our own Valentine. You can read that post here. On the heels of my post, I wanted to share the below article, written by my niece Megan. Megan’s piece introduces another perspective about Love – particularly the connection between Inner Beauty and Love.

    At the time of writing, Megan was 21-years-old and a senior at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is now happily married to her college sweetheart. They have an 18-month-old son, John Kolbe, and Baby Catherine on the way. Thank you, Megan, for letting me share your wisdom and beauty! Read more

  • Be My Valentine

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

    Have you ever considered the idea of loving yourself the way God calls us to love all people? I mean, you too, are people, right? What if God’s command to ‘love one another’ includes loving ourselves? I believe it does.

    And for good reasons. We can only give what we have. If my inner love reserves are low or empty, my capacity to love others is impacted. We’ve all had those days that call on us to give, nurture, listen, empathize, give, and give some more. My ‘giving’ begins to look and feel a lot different to the recipient as I become more tired and depleted. My ’empathy’ starts to feel more like annoyance!

    Read more

  • Words to Live by

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Boy, what a false statement that turned out to be.
    Words have the power to deliver wounding or healing. Doubt or reassurance. Fear or hope.
    Words foster pictures in our minds, which tell our brain what is happening, what to believe, how to respond, and what it all means.

    Read more

  • Autumn Transitions

    I love summer. And I love fall. Every year, as summer gives in to fall, I have trouble deciding which I love more.
    So many things I miss about summer. So many things I look forward to about fall.

    Outside my window, lush green is becoming crisp and colored-in.
    I’m trading in my iced tea and lemonade for steamy mugs of chamomile and chai.
    My flip flops and sundresses have returned to their place-in-waiting.
    My jeans & snuggly sweaters are getting fabulous reviews (from me 🙂 ) as they make their seasonal debut.
    Baked winter squash and roasted root veggies will soon replace the garden cucumbers, zucchini, and fresh summer salads.
    We hung up our kayaks and fishing rods and are looking forward to a hayride.

    It’s a process of letting go of one good thing in order to welcome another.
    Each ending…a beginning.

    Don’t the seasons handle transitions with such grace?
    How gracefully and majestically Autumn is ushered in.

    Read more