Self Worth

You Can Do This! Overcoming Your Inner Critic

Have you ever listened closely to the way you talk to your self? It can be a little scary. Most of us grossly underestimate the extent to which a critical inner voice is doing most of the talking, and the barrier that this habitual opponent creates in our lives. Now, we all need a push now and again, to hold ourselves accountable, to be better, to do better, to care more, to live in line with our values and our potential. This can include some tough love, lest we fall into the snares of an unfulfilling life ruled by complacency and instant gratification. 

That being said, we must understand that we have everything to gain by protecting ourselves from the spiritual pollution of negative self talk.  As my spiritual teacher, Michael Berg says, speaking negatively, which includes about ourselves “puts a shell around our soul.” And this shows up physically as well. Brain research confirms that a self attacking inner voice sets us up for anxiety and depression. 

ONENESS WITH ONESELF IS THE FOUNDATION

The idea is like this: Before we can create a oneness with our dreams and desires, and a oneness with others, we must create a oneness within ourselves. Yes, we want to grow into a more loving and compassionate person.  So what’s the foundation? A relationship towards oneself filled with kindness, encouragement and self love. We don’t grasp how valuable we are, simply because we exist. Appreciating our value, believing in ourselves beyond logic, this is how we grow and change best.

QUESTIONNAIRE: AWARENESS IS KEY

So let’s get practical and talk about what negative self talk can really sound like. Awareness is the first essential step.  Here’s a questionnaire to help you begin identifying where you and your inner critic stand. Please be honest with yourself. Your inner critic won’t like to be discovered but your soul will be thrilled.  0=never; 1= rarely; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=all the time (The higher your score the more care and priority I would recommend you place on healing your self talk.)

When I listen inside, I can hear myself…

—  Judging myself harshly in a way that I would NEVER speak to a friend, colleague or anyone I truly care about. (e.g., I’m so stupid; Never good enough; I look awful today; Why can’t I be more …; I’m so disorganized; I’m so bad; It’s all my fault; I did well, what a relief.)

Comparing myself to others. (e.g. They are so much farther along than I am; Why don’t I have what they have; Well I do that better than them.)

Repeating a message I received growing up, from someone toxic or a  dynamic. (e.g., You’re so annoying; You have to make them happy or they will leave; You are not worthy of love; When you’re thin, everything will be good; That’s a hobby, not a real job.)

Saying extreme statements about my character when disappointed in myself or a circumstance (e.g., I’m a terrible mother; I suck; I have nothing to offer; I’m blowing it.)

Panicking when I don’t live up to a fixed identity, like a Good-Person image. (e.g., I better do this for them or they’ll think I’m unkind; Oh no, they are not going to see that I have it all together.)

Discounting my gifts, skills and credentials. (e.g., There’s no way I can do that, I’ve never done it before; My success doesn’t feel genuine, I feel like an imposter; I’m not really that smart; I’m sure there are others who could do it better; I’ll come off like a fool.)

Anxiously needing to resolve conflict or move forward on a project or issue. (e.g., If I don’t email right away, they’ll think I’m irresponsible; I better fix this Now; Oh gosh they will think I’m terrible, I need to explain myself.)

Preoccupied with how I look. (e.g., Ugg I hate how my stomach looks; With these thighs I’ll never find a date.) 

Second guessing myself and my decisions, day to day and long term. (e.g., You should have done it faster; You wasted so much time; You idiot, you could have handled that so much better; Maybe my way isn’t the right way.)

Shaming messages when I’m not perfect, approved of or make a mistake,  (e.g., I have to be the best at this; They have to accept me; I just can’t make a mistake or I’m a failure; shame on me for not being tougher; I better not even try because I might fail; I’m bad at the core)

ABOUT SHAME: HEALING ONE’S INNER CHILD

Before we go on, I feel we need to spend a minute on shame.  Especially related to our internalized and shaming messages (#3 and #10 above), it’s important to appreciate and not judge your inner critic. Likely, to protect from feeling judged, shamed or rejected in some fundamental way by caregivers, many of us develop an attacking way of relating with oneself to protect from the shame awakened by anything that resembles failure. If we can manage to control our behavior, our bodies, our image — or judge ourself first—  then we create a temporary (and illusionary) feeling of safety.

As a recent article in Psychology Today put so well, “There's one thing the inner critic doesn't offer: Room for growth. All too often it sends us back to a zone where we find ourselves safe, but also stuck.” Today we have beautiful healing approaches that gently and powerfully help us to emancipate the child within, reparent him/her to not need those coping mechanisms, and the accompanying belief systems, like the child once needed to survive.  (See Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, Internal Family Systems, and EMDR)  

THIRD PERSON SELF TALK: A TECHNIQUE FOR SELF DISTANCING

The main technique for overcoming negative self talk I want to share is a cognitive approach called SELF DISTANCING and it’s based on ground breaking research by Ethan Kross, of the University of Michigan's Emotion & Self Control Lab.  By replacing the first person pronoun, I , with non-first person pronoun, You, He/She, or Our Name, we can gain emotional and psychological distance which allows us to speak to ourselves more like we would to a friend or someone we care about.  Haven’t you noticed how it’s more clear when it’s about someone else’s life.  Kross goes on to show that getting out of our first person mindset reduces the activation of the right amygdala, the emotional part of the brain— but at no extra cognitive expense.  So this simple technique has great implications for unhooking us from the vicious cycle of negative self talk. Here’s an example of Gabriella new at giving presentations:

First Person (negative) Talk:

I am worried about giving this presentation. I’m afraid I won’t be good and powerful and that participants won’t want to continue.  I’m afraid I will be a disappointment. The other presenters I respect in my field do such a good job and what if I am just not that good at it. 

Third Person (affirming) Talk:

Gabriella, you can do this.  You know this material and everyone who begins something new feels uncomfortable. What you will be sharing is something you deeply believe in and the most important thing is doing your best and coming from your heart.  Gabriella, people will feel your passion and that’s the energy that makes the most difference.  More than concepts.  You can do this and you don’t have to be perfect.  That’s not possible and not the point. 

Rather than trying to shut down the inner critic or analyze the emotions underneath, Kross and his colleagues suggest trying to make this simple grammatical manipulation of first person to non first person self talk. And since negative self talk is a habit often decades in the making, be prepared to practice, and practice! I have tried this myself and love it. Even writing this blog has taken this technique to a new level for me personally. I would love to hear how it works for you.

The Tidying Up Craze: Create More Joy, Empathy and Better Connections

I always know where I am in my life, within my self, by looking at these three areas in my home: my closet, my desk, and my refrigerator.  If I am neglecting my self in some way, or feeling overwhelmed, I’ve learned it’s time to start emptying and organizing. Bit by bit, I begin sorting and cleansing my way into a sense of control and confidence, outside and in.

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, our home is a manifestation of our soul — a place to park our soul at the end of the day. We want to use our home as a reminder of how our consciousness should be. It’s up to us to create the energy in the home and to make it a reflection of us. Creating balance and order around us helps us do the same in our consciousness. Author and home organizer, Regina Leeds, puts it more bluntly, "Your crap and your clutter is what's going on inside of you." Don’t we all know and feel that

This month, nearly every major publication and network is talking about author, Marie Kondo and her Tidying Up series on Netflix.  Who doesn’t agree that tidiness makes us feel better?  And yet many do not grasp the extent, and the far reaching impact positive impact of decluttering? So what are the benefits of creating order in our home?  And what is the best approach to declutter with joy and balance (and that we can sustain)?

The Psychological, Spiritual and Relationship Benefits of Tidying Up

We know it from experience, but research confirms that those who move from clutter to tidiness experience not only a decrease in stress but an increase in their ability to process information and to focus on their goals. Order also helps us feel more creative, hopeful and more confident we can achieve our potential. 

Order can awaken it’s own brand of simple joy. We find a serenity that comes with less stuff. The key is balance. While it can be a happy and beautiful experience to buy a new dress or gadget, or to treasure a sentimental item, there’s a flip side to “too much” and not being sensitive to how each item affects us. Without balance, and developing what Marie Kondo describes as an empathic sense of what sparks joy, we can stuff ourselves into emptiness and guilt.

Even if it doesn’t reach the proportion of a full blown hoarding crisis, too much stuff can easily become an addiction, a distraction, an escape from connecting with our bodies, our loved ones, our pain, our self and the truth within our soul.  We are energy seekers by nature, and in a consumer society, it’s easy to turn to the illusionary solution of accumulating more stuff when it’s something much deeper that brings lasting joy. Decluttering opens up the space to connect from within—or as my daughter, Andrea Glik, LMSW, likes to say, “come home to yourself.” 

In our relationships, chaos in our environment can easily get in the way. In large part because it’s harder to connect with ourselves much less another. Ask anyone with young children about this one.  I remember that time in our life, back in the day, and listen to the struggles of many young couples who can’t seem to catch up. Not only from the hectic and relentless running around of those little joy machines, but just from the mess and disorder itself. It can be difficult to find that open space to connect. The key is finding a way to make the tidying up process light and fun, and not just on the shoulders of one person. It’s about creating an attitude of empathy, gratitude, and mutual care towards your home, your items, and especially the people with whom you live and love. So now let’s talk about the how …

Best Practices for Tidying Up

According to Marie Kondo’s Konmari method, she recommends the following rules:

RULE 1: Commit yourself to tidying up.

RULE 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

RULE 3: Finish discarding first.

RULE 4: Tidy by category, not by location (e.g.,clothing, books, papers, kitchen/bath, sentimental)

RULE 5: Follow the right order.

RULE 6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

Here are 7 Tips to not only help make the tidying up more joyful but also SUSTAINABLE:

1. ACCEPT YOUR OWN RHYTHM

Make perfectionism the first thing you discard. Each person is unique and that’s in the beautiful design of our universe.  While some decide to make the clearing and tidying process an intense and concentrated project, I find that each person needs to find the rhythm that works for them.

As most of us do, I wear many hats and I continue to make choices that demand from me, stretch me and require constant change.  This makes my days and sometimes evenings quite full. That being said, I can’t say that full time organizer fits in my hat closet. So what works for me is to grab snippets of time wherever I can.  One fridge-drawer here, one under-the-sink-cabinet there. Maybe it’s the sock drawer before work and the underwear drawer after. Usually mornings work better for me because clearing out and tidying up often requires more decision-making energy than we realize. Sometimes there’s a time for going all in and devoting full days, but I don’t recommend the all or nothing mindset. 

2. MAINTAIN BALANCE

While a neat house reflects a person who takes good care of themselves, too neat can show obsession or lack of presence or warmth. I suggest reflecting within, using the extremes of “mess” and “over-neat,” as a gauge for where you are.

3. CREATE A SPACE THAT REFLECTS YOU

Our home should be a reflection of us, not who we think we should be or what others think. When decorating, organizing and tidying, ask yourself, “IS THIS ME?”

4. AWAKEN MINDFULNESS AND COMPASSION 

The Kanmari method is most well known for the invitation to ask oneself, “Does this item awaken sparks of joy?” Answering that question requires listening within and being present in the moment without any judgement about what you might hear. Try inviting self-compassion and self-acceptance, right where you are now. Also consider carefully you’re personality and attention style. Some are organically orderly in their way of processing information and life. Others are more expansive in their attention span, and this can affect your relationship with the space around you. So please be gentle with yourself if consistency and keeping order is naturally a struggle. 

5. WORK ON LETTING GO—OF ITEMS AND EMOTIONS

When cleaning out our things, its a powerful opportunity to listen to our feelings, especially when we find ourselves having difficulty letting go of items. Pause, take a few deep breaths and pay attention within to the emotions the item brings up or what you’re feeling at the very idea of discarding it. The idea isn’t to feel forced to give precious things away. We must honor our truth when it’s useful, authentic, joyful or meaningful for us to keep an item in our home, in our life.

That being said, oftentimes we hold onto things for less than joy-sustaining reasons. For example, you might feel guilt for not having used an item enough, or fear of not having what you need at a later time. Maybe your ego voice is bombarding you with should’s or I need this to feel good enough. Remind yourself, You are always enough. Sometimes we don’t let go of an item because we don’t realize the drain on our consciousness that keeping it really causes, especially if it’s from a person we need to move on from or some other aspect of our past.

You might need to add soothing and cleansing rituals to support your tidying journey, especially to make it a way of life. Examples include: opening a window, lighting a candle, burning sage, spraying essential oils. If you’re really struggling to let go, a counselor or close friend might offer the support and strength you need. Whatever it takes to help you LET GO— whether of the items that do not spark joy or the emotions that keep you stuck. Remember, on the other side of letting go awaits your new and more joyful, loving, and authentic life. 

6. SAY THANK YOU 

Every living thing or object contains sparks of the Light of Creation itself. Many spiritual pathsteach this beautiful idea. When clearing items away, I love the idea of openly thanking the item for however it served you before you say goodbye.  This can assist with the letting go and moving forward into your present life, with newly refreshed goals and dreams. 

7. TIDY WITH RESPECT AND UNITY IN MIND

One of the gifts Marie Kondo brings to tidying up is the unconditional respect and acceptance she injects into the process— towards the tossed away items themselves, towards oneself and towards the others in the home.

In the Down-sizers episode, Marie shares, “It’s very important when you’re tidying to respect each other. Having a family of my own, and being a mother and I think the things in our house and all the family members in a home kind of function the same way. We each play a role and we only have a limited amount of space and we all need each other.”

Self Care When National Headlines Trigger Old Trauma

Self Care When National Headlines Trigger Old Trauma

What can you do if painful memories have come to the surface as a result of the sexual assault Kavanaugh hearings, or any other “me-too” news that rings true to home. First and foremost, BE KIND TO YOURSELF! 

Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Bullying?  When Does it Cross the Line and What Can Be Done?

Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Bullying?  When Does it Cross the Line and What Can Be Done?

So much attention, rightfully so, has been paid to bullying in the schools. Yet family researchers have recently found that bullying inside the home can actually cause as much or even more damage to children’s mental well being—even into adulthood. 

The Competitive Couple: How to Avoid this Toxic Dynamic

 The Competitive Couple: How to Avoid this Toxic Dynamic

Whether it’s about who does more or who makes more, or maybe it’s who works the hardest or who is in better shape. The bottom line is that while couples yearn to come together as one, the human ego has a pesky way of allowing competition to invade the safe haven needed for love to deepen and grow. Here are some common competitive scenarios I hear about:

Depression in Men: What's at the Root and How to Help

Depression in Men: What's at the Root and How to Help

I am hoping to shed light on the often undetected signs of depression in men and what tends to be at the root. And most importantly, offer some tools for healing depression and lifting oneself into a life of happiness.

Modern Love and Millennials: What's the Point of Getting Married?

Modern Love and Millennials: What's the Point of Getting Married?

In an era of dating apps and blended families, social media and FOMO (fear of missing out), the diverse relationship concerns for many in their 20s and 30s have built great momentum as they roll into therapy offices nationwide.

Self Care for the Winter Blues

Self Care for the Winter Blues

Regardless of what our external environment naturally dictates — whether it’s the harsh winter or any other challenge in life — with the right tools, we have the inherent capacity to become the cause of our own well being and happiness — true leaders, if you will. The key is SELF CARE ... that empowers your body, your mind, and your spirit.

The Danger of Comparing: How to Live Happily Being You

The Danger of Comparing: How to Live Happily Being You

As Mitch Prinstein, a psychologist at University of North Carolina, puts it in his interview with Psychology Today, “Social media has created a life-long adolescence.” The best news of all is that we have a choice in the matter and possess within us everything we need to“feel good in our own skin and be happy with who we are.” 

Master Your Thoughts, Master Your Life

Master Your Thoughts, Master Your Life

Here are a few truths and facts about the impact of what we allow to dominate our minds— drawing from both science and ancient spiritual wisdom. Then we’ll bring this into practice, with tips and suggestions for taking charge of our mindset.

Job Happiness

Job Happiness

I believe passionately that how fulfilled we feel in our work, especially the extent we feel in line with our values and calling, is paramount not only to our emotional and spiritual well-being, but most definitely to the quality of our relationships.

Loving Your Body: It's All In Your Mind

Loving Your Body: It's All In Your Mind

Self-love and acceptance influence our peace of mind and joy far beyond our typical understanding and starts first with identifying what is going on in our heads. We often don’t even realize our inner thoughts and the way we talk to our selves about our bodies, and this leaves us vulnerable; we can’t change what we can’t see. A common term among body positive writers is “It’s our mind that bullies our body.”

How to Approach Tricky Conversations with Sensitive People

How to Approach Tricky Conversations with Sensitive People

As counter-intuitive as it might feel, we benefit greatly from challenges — especially once we ACCEPT AND EMBRACE FRICTION as a tool to grow stronger within ourselves, to become better people and ultimately to build the real love and unity we so yearn to share with others. Here are 7 tips and considerations when approaching difficult conversations with sensitive people (or sensitive conversations with difficult people).

Being Real Is Good for Your Health

Being Real Is Good for Your Health

Living authentically is not for the faint of heart.  It can be scary and vulnerable to address our emotions and frailties, to look at ourselves honestly and to be more real with the people in our lives. That being said, not addressing our emotional side, along with not being true to ourselves, comes with a heavy burden — on our mental health as well as on the fulfillment and satisfaction within our souls.

Finding Inner Peace and Joy During Highly Emotional Times

Finding Inner Peace and Joy During Highly Emotional Times

For so many people, the events around us have evoked a great deal of anger, fear and confusion — and a widespread increase in “us versus them.” It’s understandable that we would feel strong emotions these days, and that it’s a time for speaking and standing up for what we believe in. But how do we find balance when anger or sadness take hold?

Establishing Boundaries and Being True to Yourself in Your Close Relationships

 Establishing Boundaries and Being True to Yourself in Your Close Relationships

We are people who need people. We simply cannot reach our true potential without being loved. The paradox is that to attract the right kind of person into our lives, one with whom our love can grow and grow, we must first have a strong connection with our self and the light we possess inside. Only when we are emotionally independent, when we let go of the desperation and intense “need” for someone else to validate or want us, to praise or make us a priority, do we build the proper platform on which to actually draw the love we so desire.

New Year’s Resolutions? 4 Secrets Behind Those Who Succeed

New Year’s Resolutions? 4 Secrets Behind Those Who Succeed

The essence of our being is DESIRE. We don’t move a finger without it. Desire lifts us out of bed in the morning, propels us forward day after day, year after year. Why is it so easy to create a wish list of goals and yet so hard to follow through - especially long term?

How to Get Along with People Who Rub Us the Wrong Way

How to Get Along with People Who Rub Us the Wrong Way

We all have people in our lives with whom we find it difficult to get along.  In many cases, we can simply avoid them.  However, what if those we “don’t like” are people we just can't get rid of? Like a sibling or parent, or hey what about those in-laws; or maybe it's a coworker or boss, or member of a community in which we are deeply invested.  We might wish certain people away, yet the truth is, people we have a hard time getting along with—they are in our lives for a reason. We don’t want to miss the learning opportunity that these challenging people might present for us. Explore this growth-oriented paradigm as a first step in navigating the process of trying to get along. 

Self Compassion: Overcome the Never Good Enough Syndrome

Self Compassion: Overcome the Never Good Enough Syndrome

I can hardly think of anyone who walks through my private practice door, whether that be for relationship problems, anxiety, depression or any life challenge, who at the core, does not struggle in some way with low self-esteem, self-worth, self-love. The never feeling good enough syndrome. 
Self-compassion is based on the underlying principle that we do not need to be exceptional to be worthy of comfort or kindness, that we are not isolated from one another but rather part of a common humanity joined by our shared pains and joys along the journey of life. Read more for TIPS FOR A SELF-COMPASSIONATE LIFE


Tips to Deal with Difficult Relatives During the Holidays

Tips to Deal with Difficult Relatives During the Holidays

The holidays can bring the best of times and the worst of times. While many look forward to being with family, it seems everyone has that one relative (at least one) who makes things difficult. We tend to give so much power away to these challenging and sometimes toxic relatives.