Reflections From My True Self

Remembering Who I Really Am


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My Inner Saboteur

This is what I do when the saboteur grabs hold of me and I lose myself in self-doubt: I wrap myself in a thick quilt of silence and walk backward as far as I can until I find a big, dark shadow to stand in, a large, tall tree to hide behind, and I sit there, far from anyone, and listen to the volume rising on the voice within me telling me I am not enough.

It would take so little to keep me from going there, so little to mute the voice of my saboteur. All I need is the proof that I have done something meaningful, or have someone look me in the eye and tell me, with clear conviction, that there is no means to measure the enormity of my worth.

But by the time I need it, I don’t allow myself to seek this proof, I am too far gone to look anyone in the eye. Shame keeps my sight locked on the ground.

And then I inhabit the shadow, and waste away my gifts, until a miracle, a sliver of sunlight, hits me and gives me just enough strength to remember I have a tool box. And I reach in with my last ounce of strength and have to pull myself along, out of the darkness, inch by inch, using every last resource, every last tool to save myself from my own self-doubts.

And I know this is exactly what happens for my clients, although they may visualize the process differently: they retreat into themselves, where the voice of self-judgment is loudest, and spiral into depression and paralysis.

But we don’t have to do that! And, just because I have the tools doesn’t mean I should create the conditions in which I need them. I can choose another way. I can recognize the voice of my saboteur, and lower the volume on it immediately! I can take the wisdom from its message, without having to accept the self-hatred and vitriol as well. And I also teach my clients how to do that, because none of us has to live in the shadow.

A thick tree trunk creates a shadow to hide behind

We take to the shadows, with the saboteur at full volume, until sunlight hits.
Photo Credit: Andreas Krappweis

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Morning Pages in the Afternoon

Decades ago, my college writing teacher (who taught me as much about believing in my gifts as she did about English) introduced me to The Artist’s Way, and the tools I found in it changed my life (I started writing fiction, for one).  I used them consistently for years, and I still have Artist Dates with my Self every few weeks.  I used to do Morning Pages every morning before I did anything other than sit up in bed. I did them for over 10 years, and it would take me around half an hour to finish those three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. When I went through the old notebooks of them, recently, I found what I already knew, they were full of pettiness and smallness, but the last few lines of almost every entry held pearls of wisdom, epiphanies, and breakthroughs for me.  Writing Morning Pages every day served me really, really well.

And then I had kids, and my early mornings did not feel my own. I stopped doing the Morning Pages. I missed them, but it was too stressful to try to predict when the kids would wake up so that I could have my half hour of uninterrupted writing in peace. And I was too tired. And then, when they got older and had to go to school, I preferred the pleasure of having them come, squirming into our bed with us, first thing.  I still do.

I toyed with the idea of starting them again. Except that I already get up crazy early, and I only manage to get the sleep I need each night because I stay vigilant about it.  Realistically, it wouldn’t work for me right now.  Maybe in another decade.

Still, I have been trying it out, in my own way, which means that I do them at odd times during my day.  There’s a part of me that hates that, it’s not the RIGHT way to do them, and I can’t harness the unconscious energy of my sleep when I do them over lunch.

And yet… I love to do them, I love to watch my petty thoughts spill out onto the page instead of occupying me all day.  I become free of them, and free to let the thoughts that hide beneath the surface, rise into my consciousness.  And I, still, consistently, find the pearls of wisdom, the epiphanies and breakthroughs in those last lines.

Doing the Morning Pages the wrong way is a fabulous means for me to access my inner wisdom.

But the Morning Pages have also taught me a lesson that I have learned before, one I can learn over and over again (and one I make a point of teaching). They reminded me that the tools I use are meant to serve me, and that means that I must adapt them so that I can use them, so that I can benefit from them. I must make them my own.

pen and notebook

Photo by Miriam Wickett on RGBstock.com