Monday, April 12, 2010


Have you ever watched a cat cleaning themselves - really watch them? So gently.  So methodically. So reverently. The full bath, not the whiskers and paws kind. What is apparent is how lovingly they treat themselves. They twist and turn, wrap both paws around their legs and tail and embrace themselves. With eyes closed, it is almost like a prayer or a meditation. So lovingly. What if we were to treat ourselves that way?

To meditate is to be quiet, to focus the mind, to feel what your body is telling you.  I must admit I have attended meditation workshops and seminars and yoga study groups and have had great difficulty quieting my mind.  I find my nose itches, my foot starts to cramp, or I start thinking of what I need to get at the supermarket after class and all the work that I am missing.

The purpose is to be in the moment, to quiet the mind, to be kind to ourselves, and to stop the negative self talk.  We all have that little voice inside that we can't still.  You know the one that sits on our shoulders and nitpiks all day long.  "You should have done this, you shouldn't have done that."  This serves no real purpose except to make us doubt ourselves.  And yes, we often do a really good job at that. 

I have a mental image of my nitpiker! She is an ugly witch like thing and small with pointy boney fingers. She taps my shoulder and irritates the hell out of me.  Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I'm sorry, sometimes I'm not.  Sometimes she tells me I am not good enough, or smart enough - well you get the picture.  Ignoring her doesn't work. 

What does work is letting go and forgiving myself.  

Last week was a treasured beautiful gift that turned out to be something quite different. Or did it? We all make mistakes or what we choose to perceive as mistakes. Sometimes ones that take our breath away and knock us off balance for a while. But we need to forgive ourselves. God already has. Sometimes we have more trouble forgiving ourselves than we do other people. Sometimes we even beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up. This blocks the way for grace to enter the can block forward can block life and the prospect of love and forgiveness.  And then maybe sometimes the mistake can bring about forward movement and show us the direction our heart is leading us.

Listening to my nitpiker is useless. But sometimes sadly I buy into her and swallow her negativity.  If I had friends that treated me the way I sometimes treat myself, I wouldn't have them for long.  Or if the way I speak to myself were to come from the mouths of my friends, I would consider it verbal abuse. This negative way of thinking about ourselves and our actions or lack of actions can have serious consequences.  Why is it so hard to build ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves apart?  Isn't this what you would do for a friend who needed a word of encouragement?

We all have our list of shoulds and shouldn'ts!  I should have done this or said this.  I shouldn't have done this or that.  But you know what?  We are all human.  And did you ever consider that what you perceive as a mistake could just be the beginning of a new life? 

So the answer is to knock the nitpicker off  your shoulder. Stop being mad at yourself. Stop blaming.  Stop beating yourself up. You deserve to be treated with respect, encouragement and patience. You demand that much from people you know. Demand it from yourself. Negative self talk can easily  become distorted, a distortion of reality which contributes to anxiety, stress, depression and just plain crappy days.

There’s nothing wrong with critiquing yourself, but self-flagellation can be paralyzing, bringing any forward movement to an abrupt halt. In the process of beating ourselves up, we successfully immobilize ourselves and find ourselves trapped in the very moment we wanted to escape. 

And then perhaps, most damaging of all, is we try to avoid that which we care the most about by saying to ourselves that we don't need any reminders.  All this does is keeps us stuck in that state of not forgiving ourselves and hiding from what brings us the most joy.

So today's message is to knock the nitpikers off of your shoulders.  Take a deep breath, admit to mistakes made and consider that  perhaps those mistakes just might be the answers to your questions and your future.


"When we look for what should be, we miss the music in the chaos of what is."
~Terry Hershey

1 comment:

  1. Patsy this blog on self forgiveness was beautiful. Words I've spoken to others MANY MANY times but admitadly not listened to when it applies to my own life. I am going to forward to several of my girlfriends who I think can really benefit from your words. Thank you so much!!!