The Harsh Voices in Your Head …
Or Welcome to the No B*tching Challenge

stop bitching challenge image for blogNot too long ago, I heard something profoundly simple but it rocked my world.

There is no redeeming value in harshness.
There is nothing that harshness does which loving firmness doesn’t do better.
Terry Real

That simple truth went into my soul.

I thought about how many times I’ve spoken sharply to – or even yelled at – my husband or son — trying to make my point, to get their attention, to get my way, to express my feelings of anger, frustration, exasperation, irritation ….

It’s never pretty.

This harshness appears to “work”  in the fleeting moment, but I know the cost to these relationships far outweighs any benefit. I am pretty good at apologizing when this happens and these days, it happens far less often, but the scars remain and I know, in the end, it’s me who has the healing to do. (I have a savings account for my son’s future therapy, LOL!)

And, when I turn the flashlight inwards, I know that whatever I say to my family, it’s nothing compared to the harsh words I am speaking and feeling towards myself.

This can’t stand.

This kind of self-talk has a very high price – it is, indeed, a form of violence and I see it over and over in myself, my family, my clients and community. We may not walk around punching and slapping each other but those words of a certain tone certainly wound to the quick and are pernicious because they seem so normal.

How did this harshness become so normal? Again, Terry Real explains that we tend to hold ourselves the way we were held as children. So if our parents were harsh and critical, we tend to hold ourselves in the same way when we make  “mistakes” and we do the same to our kids, or those around us over whom we have some power.

It all makes sense in the world of cause and effect. We want to do better, and I can say I am probably doing a bit better than my predecessors but there’s a long way to go to clean it up – moment by moment.

And I want to move us all forward in our awareness of those voices, inner and outer, that are constantly chipping away at our self esteem and our relationships. 

What better way than to declare A NO BITCHING CHALLENGE this spring? 21 Days of No Complaining, Criticism, or Gossip.  And if you slip, forgive yourself and start over at Day One. 

Gasp. (I can hear my family cheering, already!)

I’ve done this before – I think 2020 was the last time – and it was a beautiful opportunity to reset – to wake up to the unkind spaces and places within that create unkindness without. What I’ve learned is that I need to constantly recommit myself to the principles.

I will shoot short videos sharing my experiences and reflections on social media and by email, and invite you to join me as we discover the points of challenge, the places of stress, the source of our discontent and need to express it in unhealthy ways. 

I invite you to do this with full willingness and curiosity and a spirit of forgiveness towards yourself which will surely change your ability to forgive others. Can you imagine the ripple effect?

What will you talk about? 

What will you say to yourself when you make a “mistake”? 

How will you speak to others who make “mistakes”?

How will you offer constructive feedback? 

How will you maintain your sense of power without diminishing others – to their face or behind their back?

What will you do?

You will make a commitment to Full Respect Living (another Terry Real concept) 

What is that? It’s a 360 degree manifesto for expressing myself respectfully – within my being and towards others. 

If I find myself going into grandiosity and judgment and feeling one-up on someone, or spiraling into shame and feeling one-down or less than others, I will take a moment to recognize the feeling and recognize that neither position is the Truth. 

Your essential worth is neither greater or lesser than any other human being. It can’t be. Self-esteem is about being, Not doing. You have worth simply because you are alive. Terry Real

I will live by the Truth that No One Is Better Than and No One is Less Than Me. 

I am here, therefore I matter, I am worthy and valuable. My worth is my birthright.

I am a child of the Divine – the Divine is expressed perfectly through me and all of Life. 

If this is true of me, it must be true of others. If it’s true of others, it must be true of me.

These are profound spiritual laws … to live in accordance with them is to find true freedom and power within, which will be energized when we stop spending our precious energy on complaint, comparison and negative expression.

And, what I know is this: what I focus on tends to grow … whether that attention is positive or negative. So, focusing on beauty, kindness, harmony, gratitude, and abundance will naturally bring you more of the same. 

Does that mean you shouldn’t stand up for yourself? No.

Does that mean you shouldn’t express your feelings? No.

Does that mean you shouldn’t teach your kids or employees better ways to do things? No.

Does it mean you don’t want to improve yourself or the world around you? No.

But I will refer back to the quote from the beginning of this blog.

There is no redeeming value in harshness.
There is nothing that harshness does which loving firmness doesn’t do better.

Terry Real

With this practice, you will express yourself respectfully. 

If you blow it, forgive yourself, apologize, determine how you’d like to do better next time. And keep going. Remember progress, not perfection. 

And, the key to our self-esteem is not to expect perfection, but to hold ourselves gently and lovingly, including our imperfections and “mistakes”. They are our points of growth, uniqueness and ultimate wisdom.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some ideas for how to reframe some of that unkindness in new ways – I hope you will follow along, contribute to the conversation and grow with me.

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