Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A-Z Challenge: B - Be Gentle With Yourself

Be Gentle With Yourself - sounds simple, doesn't it? Maybe for some, it is. For me, not so much. I drive myself hard. And if I don't meet my own expectations, well, let's just say I don't feel particularly good about myself.

So how am I learning to work with this slogan (yes, another one from the 12 steps). Someone suggested I wear a rubber band around my wrist and every time I catch myself having a negative thought, I snap it. It actually makes me laugh, snapping me right out of the negativity.

I no longer set unrealistic goals for myself. Rather than set a word or page count for each day, I say I am going to write, and whatever comes or doesn't come, if I've given myself the time to sit down and write, then that's okay. Along these lines, I don't overwhelm myself with impossibly long to-do lists that I must accomplish in one day or one hour. And here is the kicker - if I don't finish my to do list, I don't beat myself up - hence, I am being gentler with myself.

One last thing. If I screw up, and believe me, I do, I no longer tell myself I am a no good person who doesn't deserve to live. I acknowledge I am human, and that humans make mistakes. And that all I can do is do the best I can in any given moment. And I'm learning to stop making excuses for myself.

How about you? Are you gentle with yourself? If so, how?


Bz said...

ooo I must say that I am hard on myself more often than not, but I try to notice these moments and turn them around to something positive :)

Jessica Bell said...

I think I waiver between being hard and too gentle. It really depends on my mood!

Jessica @ The Alliterative Allomporph

Paula Martin said...

I can be hard on myself when I have a deadline but, apart from that, I do go easy on myself. Sometimes too easy, so that I have to give myself an almighty push! I think you're right about not setting unrealistic goals - word or page counts per day mean you're striving for quantity, when in fact it's the quality that really counts.

Jules said...

That rubber band idea made me laugh. And my lists are for memory purposes only or at least that is my story and I'm sticking to it. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Michael Di Gesu said...

It seems we are always HARDEST on ourselves. But I've learned that I am such a good friend to others, I need to be a good friend to me. I also leaned that NO ONE will be kinder to you, than you. And if you are kind to you others will be as well.

This year I am being kind to me by escaping the last vestiges of a Chicago winter and spending two months in sunny Florida to take care of me. It has done me a world of good and I still have another month or so to go.

Ella said...

I alternate, I do need to remember life is a journey filled with risks and sometimes I screw up.
I do want a more gentle path, less self destruction.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I try to cut myself slack, but I'm a perfectionist and my own worst critic sometimes.

Mary Vaughn said...

Sometimes personal judgment comes from not really letting go of the past. You can't change it but it changes you daily if you don't let go.

Karen Walker said...

BZ, that's key - noticing the moments and turning them around.
Jessica, yeah, me,too.
Paula, you hit the nail on the head right there - quality, not quantity.
Jules, yes, it makes me laugh,too.
Michael, what a wonderful way to take care of you.
Ella, yes, more gentle, less self destruction - crucial!!
Alex, perfectionism is a killer - cause there's no such thing as perfect - only as good as we can get it.

David L Macaulay said...

Hi Karen - thans so much for the comments and the follo. I love your blog and good luck with the challenge

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, David. You, too.

Catherine Lavoie said...

I can definitely be too hard on myself sometimes, especially when it comes to writing. Great post! :) Thanks for the follow!

baygirl32 said...

people are often the hardest on themselves

I came in to visit from the A to Z, and decided to stay a while

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Oh, Lord. God help me. This A-Z challenge is gonna kill me! Not that I'm participating in it, but I sure am finding a lot of terrific bloggers because of it. Just what I need: more bloggers I want to follow. (sigh) Ah well, I loved your post, and I'm gonna sign on as a follower. I like your style, dear lady. I still haven't learned how to be gentle with myself, but I'm trying. Being a caregiver is much more natural than letting someone (even myself) take care of me.

Karen Walker said...

Catherine, thanks, and ditto for the follow.
Baygirl, thanks for the visit and the "stay."
Susan, Oh Lord, me, too. Yes, I can say the same about so many fabulous bloggers and about caregiving.

J.L. Campbell said...

I like your theme for the blogfest a lot.
I should be a lot gentler with myself, but I'm not and the stress I feel is unreal when I look at my To Do list and see what a small number of ticks I have against my tasks.

Karen Walker said...

Hi J.L. It's a tough but important lesson to ease up on ourselves. I guess a lot of it is about unrealistic expectations and than beating ourselves up when we don't accomplish what wasn't possible in the first place. Oy!

Melissa Bradley said...

Oh Karen does this ever sound like me. This is awesome advice that I really needed to be reminded of. I'm glad we connected on this challenge. :)

Sharon Lippincott said...

I keep having to rediscover a simple truth: I can't push, force, or power my way into love, peace and joy. They are always there if I relax and open my heart. Why is this so hard to remember?

Elizabeth Mueller said...

yours and my post go hand in hand. I struggle at times and not so gentle as I'd like. But I pray often to alleviate my torment. Thanks for your sweetness. <3
♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Karen Walker said...

Melissa, glad if it helped a little. I'm glad we connected as well.
Sharon, I know, don't we wish we could just retain it all, but that would probably be called Nirvana.
Elizabeth, yes, I noticed that as well. Thank you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are things I've learned to just let go and not worry!

junebug said...

A great reminder. I should print it out and put it by my computer. I'm terrible to myself.

Giggle, Laugh, Cry said...

I'm not too gentle with myself. I put everyone & everything else, besides me, first. I need to really think & concentrate on doing this. Very wise words!
Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

L'Aussie said...

No, I think most writers are not gentle with themselves - we have high expectations or we probably wouldn't do it. Great post. You've got a new follower. Thanks for visiting Bangladesh.


L'Aussie Travel A - Z Challenge Posts

Amy Wood said...

Wise words! I've always been hard on myself. It is nice to hear you've found things to break away from it. Lessons I could learn from.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I look forward to following along with you on your A-Z journey!

Jennee said...

I used to the rubber band thing. I'm really hard on myself. It was good to read this post!

Arlee Bird said...

I tend to be relatively gentle with myself since I like being pampered and sometimes I'm the only one who will do that.

Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

The Old Silly said...

How do I do it? I avoid self-induced extra stress by committing to challenges like these! LOL, just funnin' - stopping in to show my support, mostly. You guys're tearing it up - proud of y'all!

Manzanita said...

I would imagine achievers always tend to be tough with themselves. They may have to learn that "slow and gentle wins the race."
Wanna buy a duck

Karen Walker said...

Diane, yes, I remember hearing a saying, if you pray, why worry and if you worry, why pray?
Junebug, great idea, I think I'll do that as well!
Giggle, laugh, cry - me, too. Sigh!
L'Aussie, thanks so much. You, too.
Amy, nice to "meet" you too.
Jennee, I keep forgetting to put the darn thing on my wrist.
Lee, I don't understand about the email notification you mention here. Sorry.
Hey there Old Silly - thanks for the support!
Manzanita, oh, yes, slow and gentle does win the race. I forget that!

Cre8tiv Glory said...

There was a time when I was very hard on myself about everything and then I decided that I needed to be my own best friend. When we raise children we give them support and encouragement so that they can be confident and successful. I decided to apply that technique to me.

The two most important people in my life were my mother and a man I used to love very much. They both used to get me through all the bad stuff in my life and celebrated my successes. My mom would call me "dear" and the man I loved called me "G". Now that I am without them both I still hear their voices in my head saying "you did good 'G'" or "'dear' everything is going to be OK, you can do this". I call myself "dear" and "G" when I talk myself through things and I congratulate myself for everything good.

You are there for you all of the time even when everyone else is gone. Celebrate yourself, love yourself and you'll be great.

Talli Roland said...

I have a tendency to always take the simplest way out, so I can't be too gentle on myself or... it wouldn't be good! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I wander from one extreme to the other. One day I'm too hard on myself, and the next day I let it all go. I'm sure there's a happy medium, but I never seem to land there.

Sylvia Ney said...

I am my worst critic. I'm also a bit of a pessimist. Maybe I should try the rubber band around the wrist. Of course, I may end up with a permanent bruise due to all the negative thoughts! I look forward to reading more from you during this "A to Z" Challenge.

Karen Walker said...

Cre8tive, thank you so much for sharing here. That is a lovely story and inspiring to me.
Talli, oh, hadn't thought about that aspect.
Patricia, oh those extremes - yeah, me too.
Sylvia, Yeah, I worried about bruises also, but I found very light, loose bandaids and that works. Maybe we should start a we-step program for self-critical people.

Will Burke said...

I can be, but when I'm hard on myself, it's brutal. I'm usually over it within a couple days though.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

I'm way too harsh with myself. Not so much with the writing, but with making mistakes in life in general. I've definitely got to work on being gentler with myself.

Dan said...

This is good advice. I tend to get a little crazy with the word count goals sometimes, and when I don't meet them, it backfires and I get nothing done.

I agree, just write what you've got in you, nothing more, nothing less.


Rachel Morgan said...

I've heard about the rubber band thing before (though a psychologist told me to wear it for a slightly different reason...)
Hmm, I think I should listen to you about setting more realistic writing goals.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I attend guided meditation classes with a wonderful teacher who talks about the time she assigned a simple homework task for her students. Their job was to be completely loving for one week.

All of them had meltdowns within the first day or two.

It is so hard for us to be kind, especially to ourselves! Great post. Looking forward to many more.