Secrets to Calming Your Inner Critic

Tired of the Inner CriticThis is how my inner critic makes me feel – tired to the bone & dark, little & dirty. I should say “how it made me feel” after I discovered the secrets to calming my inner critic.

Ready? Ok, here it is – get to know it and understand how it was born. The way I process information is that I have to fully understand something and once I “get it” I can deal with it. I find myself asking questions A LOT. Being an only child it was common for me to “talk” with myself while I was growing up so it feels ok for me to talk with my parts.

Inner DialogOur inner dialog is not our future

What I wrote – I called out my demons and they came trying to be all scary. It was hard admitting I have flaws and weirdness but not so hard that I couldn’t handle it. I still deal with being “lazy” – but am I really? I am getting better at know that I am enough – know it with my soul. My voice is getting stronger and the butterflies I get when I stand my ground don’t get as excited now.

I still practice know that I am enough and I always will in this life (it’s a soul level lesson for me to process in this lifetime). At the core of my inner critic is someone who never got past their childhood trauma and this “I’m not enough” was passed onto me. Now that I understand it came from truama and deep hurt, I am able to be compassionate toward that person and my own inner critic.

art journal example 1 (1 of 1)You calm your inner critic and all the other scary parts of you with understanding and compassion. They come from hurt and fear and want to protect us from further hurt. My inner little guy doesn’t want me to try something new because we might get our feelings hurt. He wants me to keep busy because just being scares him. Now that I show him love, the frantic fear is less and my butterflies don’t get as excited.

Try writing all your fears and perceived flaws in a continuous “spilling” on a page. Then paint over it. Write or collage positive affirmations on top. Even if it hurts, spend time listening to your inner critic with an open mind and full heart. It needs love to cure the fear. For you who suffer with perfectionism – it’s an overly active and deeply hurt part of you that has you parallelized so you don’t get hurt further.

Honor all Your Parts in Your Altered Book

bits & piecesAs you meditate and start discovering some of your different parts you’ll find there are powerful pieces shoved in a corner. You will probably feel uncomfortable with some parts of you that need your attention. This is a great time to honor all your parts in your altered book.

In the Shaman tradition, it’s believed that after a trauma a part of you leaves and they do a soul retrieval to bring these fragments of you back. Now, let’s be honest we go through many traumas in this life. We do become fragmented and push what we’re told is “bad” gets pushed down. Some of these parts become our shadow side and we will be taking a whole month to uncover, understand, and love these parts.

PossiblityFor this month I would love it if you saw all the possibilities of uncovering parts of you that have been forgotten. You were made perfectly YOU and every part is needed to become your authentic self. It’s only when someone tells us we’re “bad” because of their issues that we try to suppress that trait in us.

This happens a lot when we’re young. We innocently and proudly show our whole selves (I love watching kids spaz out because that’s exactly who they are). When we don’t meet the expectations of grown ups we get told we’re bad. This is really confusing and traumatizing for kids because they’re just being themselves. In a little kids mind bad actions = bad self. This bad self isn’t allowed to come out and play anymore so we become fragmented.

my favorite thingsWhen I was in kindergarten I talked a lot and my teacher called me Chatty Cathy (after the doll). I remember putting my head on the desk and crying – my heart had been broken. I still feel it when I think of that moment. I’m sure you just thought about a time this happened to you.

Now that I’m an adult and a teacher/coach I need my ability to talk and it’s one of my most precious qualities. Of course that time in kindergarten wasn’t the last time I got in trouble for talking. Sometimes your parts refuse to go down quietly – honor those parts because they are some of your best!

my partsI did a page as my own shaman ceremony where I called back those parts I suppressed to fit into someone else’s small minded vision for me. This is usually the case – someone else has the issues and they need you to conform so they feel better.

When you’re ready, make a collage & journaling page to call back the parts you gave up and claim your unity. Practice being proud of all that you are – little by little, piece by piece. Let the feeling of being whole wash over you and celebrate all that you are. You were made perfectly for you and you are all good.

 

How Meditation can Help You Talk with Your Parts

Altered Book Meditation pageMeditation is a very valuable skill that takes practice. You learn a lot by getting quiet. Meditation can help you talk with your parts!

When you start to meditate, your brain starts too & it goes in all sorts of weird directions. The more you meditate the calmer your mind gets, but don’t ever expect silence. Practice just letting those thoughts float through instead of grabbing them mentally and dissecting them. Just think, “oh it’s you” and let the conversation stop there.

The body scan meditation looks for symbols that come up. Your unconscious self speaks in symbols. Sometimes I understand and sometimes I don’t, but by just sitting with these symbols, I’ve taken another step toward understanding more about my authentic self.

BODY (1 of 1)Here’s what I saw as I looked inside and asked about how my organs really worked. Your body knows so much more then we give it credit for, you know “trust your gut” and intuition? Yeah it’s your compass for your true path.

I learned it from a friend that studies focusing. Here’s a link to the website of the Focusing Institute.

How to do the body scan meditation that I practice:

Get quiet and lay down. Really soft meditation music can be played but no headphones.

  • I start with the top of my head and “look” inside. I use my inner eye to see what’s going on.
  • I go down my whole body very slowly. If I see or sense a picture, color, or thing I stop.
  • Just observe what the symbol is. Don’t try to think about what it means (so hard for me). Is is staying the same, moving, changing? Where is it inside your body or is it outside your body in your aura?
  • Tell it you see it. What does it make you feel? Does it make you anxious, calm, sad? You can acknowledge that and tell it, I feel that you are ________________.
  • Your job here is to just observe without judgement or figuring it out while you meditate.

This meditation will help you connect with your inner self and help you listen to your gut & what you’re feeling. Listening to your gut and taking a minute to check in with your inner self does help you make decisions that are more aligned with your authentic self.

body scan for bookYou can use the body silhouette to draw in what and where you saw while you meditated. Body Scan Shapes (download and print here)

The more you get in-touch with what’s going on inside you, the better decisions you can make for you. Trusting your gut really helps with healthy boundaries and identifying your true parts.

Doodling Your Way – That’s the “Right” Way

doodle 1There are a lot of “how to” doodle books out there right now and they are great help to get you started. One thing to ALWAYS remember is to not compare your doodles with anyone else’s. Remind yourself that this is your time and your expression of the creative song in your heart. Doodling YOUR WAY – that’s the right way!

Your art comes from your soul and your expression of that wonderful creative soup we dip into. We are all different so even our doodles should have the flavor of us.

doodle with ink 1All the art that I do (beadwork, painting, collage, doodles) all have my love of color & texture. You can pick my experiments out because they look like “me”. I do not strive to have my art look like anyone’s because that would not be an authentic representation of my soul.

The more I create and talk about it, the more I see art as a perfect place to practice my individuality. Trying to make my art a copy of what I see is like trying to make myself into a copy of what society dictates as normal.

Get inspired by the “how to’s” , books, and workshops but remember to make it look like you. Don’t compare your creative license with any other. The goal is for your stuff to look like you and NOT like the example. Your altered book is the perfect place to practice loving what you make. Take pride in your experiments! Take pride in you!!!

Conforming with your art and trying to jam it into the box someone else created is a recipe for failure, just like trying to be something you think you “should” be. We have been programmed to think we should mold ourselves into the “right” way to create, love, worship, and act. I’m here to tell you that is bullshit and you will always fail if you keep that mold. The more we try, the more we fail, the more we think we should try, and the more we fail.

The only thing you can do perfectly is to be yourself and fucking break that mold!!!!

doodleThe Tale of Two Lives:

One life feels hard and unforgiving

I throw that one away

I try on my own life

It’s my size!

 

This is why I’m so passionate about finding your art and your style because you find yourself. It’s great practice to find inspiration in learning from other’s examples – but don’t stop there. Experiment with how you want to put the shapes together and what lines you want to repeat.

experienceWhat do you want to experience in your life? What do you want to create first in your art and then in your life? Make it your own!

What No One Tells You – We’re all Schizophrenic-ish

I am not minimizing the agonizing diagnosis of schizophrenia but I am saying is that no one tell you about all the voices in our head and which ones to listen to. Essentially we all have a society built case of schizophrenia.  We are taught to turn our backs on those authentic parts of us in order to follow our family/tribe/mediocre society.

We get jammed into a box listening to our parts all talking at once. What should we do, which way do I go, what should I say, did we just say that?!!?

I spent 40 years trying to be comfortable in the mold of the “good” girl, the quiet one, the model this & that, to stay in boundaries that weren’t mine. Then everything I tried to build around me started to come crashing down. At the time it was a crisis, now I see it was the best thing that happened because I was forced to reevaluate & rebuild my self to my own blue prints.

I love me boxI truly believe it is our life mission to unearth our authentic selves and love what we uncover.

We start that process by identifying all the different parts of us and weeding out the ones that have been programmed for us. We honor our authentic rebel parts so they grow in confidence. The parts that are scared and hurt need our love and compassion.

How? Well, this takes a lifetime (maybe more) but this is what I do:

Get quiet and listen.

  • What voices run through the stillness? Is what they are saying true for me? Is this a recording of old programming? Who’s voice is it? Question your thoughts and choose which ones you’ll listen to. Journal, draw, or collage these parts of you. Even if they aren’t a true part of you, they still need love & understanding to be able to evaporate (some are sticky & stay around).

Choose what you want to believe

  • What we believe becomes our truth and it’s how we see our world. I used to believe I wasn’t very smart and that what I thought probably wasn’t right because of layers of programming. It took going to college at 42 to realize that I am very smart and have a lot to offer to this world. I have chosen to believe in the magic of this world and have given up the dogma of small minds.
  • Test your beliefs – are they life giving and filled with good energy for you? Do they promote love for you and others? Choose fun, compassion, and love.
  • Test your boundaries – we need good strong boundaries to protect our authentic selves. Pause before you say “yes” to anything. Is it going to be healthy to you and others or is there other motives driving your “yes”?

parts of meMake a collage of all your parts. Include the good, bad, & ugly. You can’t be real with yourself without getting dirty. I have face some really icky parts of myself and if I’m honest and compassionate with myself it’s not so horrible. It just is. It’s already who we are and ignoring that isn’t going to make it go away.

Getting real takes courage and time. Take baby steps so you don’t become overwhelmed. I’ve spent the last 10 years identifying different parts and I’m not done yet. It gets easier but I probably won’t get done in this life. That’s ok with me – I’m who I am right now and I’m doing the best I can. There will be those who accept that and those who will never stop trying to jam me in their box of issues. Not my monkeys, not my circus.

 

 

The Best Tool for Relaxing – Doodle!

waitingHave you had a busy day or it’s late at night & your brain can’t shut off? Are you waiting for someone? Are you just bored? I’ve got the best tool for relaxing (or a good use of extra time) – DOODLE!

Studies show that repetitive hand motions helps to lower blood pressure and relax the body. I know because I use doodling to relax and calm myself. I have taught people receiving chemo treatments to doodle. While I was spending time with them I saw their bodies relax and smiles appear on their faces. It really does work!

Doodley DoI can spend hours in my art journal repeating shapes and lines. That really is what makes up a doodle – repeating shapes & lines.

I do the pages little by little. The page here took me several evenings to complete so don’t think you have to do it all at once.

Doodling is not:

  • a race
  • a competition
  • for an art gallery
  • for comparison with anyone else (especially with those who have spent years exploring this craft).

doodle bugHere’s a Doodle handout to get you started.

Just relax

 

 

 

 

doodle bug 1Pick up a pen – doesn’t matter which one. You can experiment with different pens – there are a lot out there! I like gel pens because they flow nice and don’t bleed.

 

 

 

doodle bug 2Try different things until you want to try something else. Some doodles you’ll like and some you won’t. Just like all the rest of the art you create.

 

 

 

doodle bug 3Doodling is for fun and it’s going to help you relax. I think of it as an active meditation. You can do it anywhere – even in meetings or classes. Doodling along with note taking increases your ability to remember what you’re hearing.

It’s another way to use art as a tool in your life – HAPPY DOODLES!

Essential Steps Toward the Practice of Loving Yourself

my muse 2February is the “love” month so what better way to celebrate is committing to a practice of self-compassion and self-love? This month my blogs will be about what I think the essential steps we need to take toward the practice of loving ourselves.

The first step I took was understanding that I am made up of many parts. Some of these parts are my true/authentic self, some are the labels that my specific tribe (Midwest small town, mostly white, middle class, etc) taught me, and some parts of me are the experiences I went through. Society likes “normal” and our primitive part gets scared when we step out of normal so we mold ourselves into the “shoulds”.

We need to learn about our parts, spend time with each one that comes to talk with us, and ask what they need. As we learn about the parts that come out to react to different situations, we can identify if they are parts of our real self or learned parts.

Inner DialogWe meet a lot of resistance when we go against the “should” parts of us because those are the parts that are trying to keep us safe and away from new/scary things. These parts only know one thing – keep us safe and away from pain. New = scary & pain so fight to keep things normal. Your inner critic just may be the king of the hill as it tries to keep you from trying (and failing).

February blogs will be all about what I found to be essential for me to move more toward self love:

  • Getting to know all your parts…
  • Body Scan meditation to “see” the symbols your parts want you to understand.
  • Calling your parts back.
  • How to really deal with your inner critic.

art journal example 2 (1 of 1)Projects and pages in your altered book will include: a Valentin’s Day card to yourself – How do I love ME, let me count the ways. . . ., a self-portrait for the author’s page in the back of your altered book, and archetype cards or fold out in your book.

Start listening to the recordings in your head and ask yourself what part is talking to you & why.

Take Time for Reflection

Discover page from Altered BookDuring the last week of the month in our year of creative discovery, take time for reflection. Look back on the pages you did during the month – what are they saying to you? Your art is in the doing and the conversation you have with it.

Art comes from the way down deep inside you and you let it communicate when you spend time in your altered book. Our subconscious talks in symbols and wants you to spend time as the wisdom unfolds.

Because this is the Year of Creative Discovery, I asked myself what I wanted to discover for myself. My most deep need is regaining my energy again after my health issues several years ago. That comes with building and maintaining good boundaries.

Take time to look back at your pages (done or not) and listen to what you are telling yourself.

What do you want to discover this year?

Super Easy Altered Book Page to Help You Gain Your Sanity

Super Easy Altered Book PageHere’s a super easy altered book page to help you gain your sanity!  A Stop Doing List!

We all need more space in our day to relax and de-stress so what about making a stop doing list in your altered book? We all have to do lists that are overwhelming just to look at so take this liberating step of cutting a few things out.

You can choose specific items, the stuff that wastes your time (Facebook or TV), or more broad personality traits.

This is a great page to do after you review your past year to see what brought you energy and what drained you (see post here). Making a page in your altered book to remind you to do more of what “worked” last year for you and drop the shit that got you bogged down will seal your decisions within you.

 

Playing with watercolors for this page:

You can use an inexpensive box of watercolors of use tubes if you have them. I use a paintbrush you can fill with water and squeeze it to wet the brush (Pentel Aquash Water Brush). You can get them at craft stores or on Amazon.

Watercolors in an altered bookStart with your title box. Paint a thin layer of a medium color then add a darker color on one side and lighter color on the other. Let the paint mix on it’s own.

The paint will bleed through a thin page in a book – that’s ok. Just try not to go over the same spot too much so it rips your page. Use a light touch when painting.

 

 

 

 

 

imagePaint more boxes – 4 or 5 should be enough. I used Dewert Inktense water soluble pencils to outline the boxes. I love scribbly messy pages so I wasn’t very neat with my outlines. Remember you can try out different ways to do pages and there is no risk at all! This is your private book.

 

 

Here’s what the pencil looks like when you add water. These pencils are really intense colors and it’s ink so it’s permanent. Great for adding details.

 

Super Easy Altered Book PageNow for writing your list in the boxes and adding doodles. A great way to doodle is to add a black line around your colors. I added a gold gel pen line around the letters in the title.

Spending time on this page while you’re thinking about what to stop in your life will help you remember to stop when it comes up. Making art while you are meditating about a subject reinforces it in your subconscious and conscious mind.

 

What do you want to Stop Doing today?

 

My Pages that I’m Working On in January

Happy cold January everyone! I don’t mind the cold because I stay in and do art and I feel very blessed that I am able to do that. Here are my pages that I’m working on:

I'm going to put the 8 Parts of self care here to remind myself

1eI used the self-care wheel for the 8 areas of my life that I need to nurture for the left side. I am going to write in more specific ways I can do that under each area.

I always do my pages in steps That way I’m not rushing through the self reflection process of the page topic. The altered book pages are the container for your reflection. The more attention you give to your pages & the topic, the more you will fill that container. Fill your containers and you gain self awareness, practice being in the moment, and a pretty cool visual journal!

doodling to relaxFound word doodle. I put a square around the words/phrases I want to save and then go to Pintrest for ZenDoodles ideas. I do some doodles until I don’t feel like it anymore and I’ll come back later to continue.

I doodle to relax or if I’m bored. Repetitive hand movement actually helps your body to relax, heart rate go down and blood pressure go down. I think about it as active meditation. You really get caught up in your creative flow and focus on the moment you’re in.

 

Altered Book Page 2016 focus

I did the paint background first, circled the words on the page I wanted to focus on, collage pieces next, then my journaling. I didn’t really like what my hand writing looked like but I talked to my inner perfectionist about my pages are not for a gallery & this isn’t a competition. I embrace my pages no matter what. It is symbolic of accepting myself no matter what I think doesn’t “look good”. Doodling came last – it always adds so much to a page and I love it.

 

The seeds I'm planting altered book pageDuring one of my mini retreats, I reflected about what “worked” last year for me. I thought about the activities that brought me energy & joy when I was doing them and what situations drained me & got me stuck.

I drew a large spiral as the path I walked last year and wrote on the spiral the events that happened in 2015. I circled the stuff that worked and thought about what I want more of in my life in 2016.

I saw it as planting seeds of the energy/situations I want to harvest in the fall. I drew seeds sprouting and the buds being the fruit.

You can use this exercise to help you focus on what you want more of this coming year. If you don’t know what you want, how can good stuff come to you?

 

Here are some downloads you can use in your books – especially if you need to start your first page.

Contents page in altered bookYou can print this out here. Use this as your table of contents or cut out topics from a magazine for your book.

 

Need some words & phrases? Download a sheet of stuff I cut out here.