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Dr. Cara Barker Headshot

How to Reject Your Inner Judge and Reclaim Self-Love

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Okay, to clear the air, let me just say it: I love HP readers! There, I feel better. Here's the truth, and nothing but my truth. Your responses to last week's "Where Are You Holding Back?" were so stirring, so magnificent in the truth-telling department, that you've got me churning.

So much to write, so little time (and space)! Suffice it to say that for those of you who joined in, including later, I'm taking your requests and questions to heart, and will respond in upcoming pieces. Your experience and insight is just too darn important to dismiss with a pithy reply. The Truth is that, like 'Caller-Response,' we are writing this work together.

Meanwhile, your remarks fired up the neuronal memory banks, retrieving an old Negro Spiritual that my chosen grandmother taught me long ago:

Somebody's knocking at your door...
Somebody's knocking at your door...

Oh, Sister,
Oh, Brother,
Why don't you answer?
Somebody's knocking at your door!

Something surely is knocking on our door. In last week's piece, the 'someone' was the 'Evil Stepmother' of Snow White ilk. Many readers responded with incredible stories of meeting their own predator, and remedy. Some of your predators have been 'real' step-monsters. For others, more the internal variety that shows up as self-doubt, mistrust and self-diminishing, distorted reflections in the mirror.

While you were writing me, I was sitting with Max, a former stockbroker, who's come to know the predator called 'fear' in a mighty big way, since the economy's free-fall. He, like you, reminds me that every once in awhile, some brave soul refuses to continue selling their soul, faces themselves, and their task, squarely. Max came for consultation nine months after the Wall Street skids. Schlepping along guilt and despair, he apologized for "taking up your time." The question of Life Meaning was pounding at his metaphorical door, bringing into question pretty much everything. "What can I do?" he asked. "Everything I thought had meaning's gone sour. I've always loved my work, but now, it has hurt people. My wife's divorcing me. The stress of our empty wallet is too much for her, and so is my moping. I have this sinking feeling that life is over."

As Max hung his head in that sort of whipped-puppy mode, I was struck, again, how it is that when the really big and unexpected comes, life is over as we've known it. And, yet, it is the most difficult, and demandingly unexpected that not only takes you to your knees, but often is the source of redemption. It's a choice, a Trust Walk. Everyone's Way is the right one for them. All rivers lead to the same Source.

Regardless your chosen Way, a central common denominator has to do with "Cliff Notes #2: Letting Go, meaning, expanding your life means getting better at letting go. It means you've got to separate from the pack, the old familiar way of seeing yourself in the mirror." It also means confronting what's in that mirror, what's at your door, as necessary. Here's how HP reader, Jeanie describes what catalyzed her own process:

The catalyst was a moral dilemma which grew into a mid-life crisis, precipitated by years of dissatisfaction with myself, and exacerbated by the stress of going back to school, teaching part-time, and trying to be a loving wife and mother ... The usual stuff. I finally leaped into the abyss and found a net waiting for me at the bottom. Nine years later I discovered Jungian psychology; that was when the joy began ...

Something else met her at the door besides the Predator, the Protector:

Recognizing the voice of my Spiritual Bully -- but choosing to believe the ... positive Crone instead, has been life-changing ... I can hear her in waking life as well. She's the Alpha Mare who says to my Spiritual Bully stallion when he gets too inflated, "I hear you, Buddy, but I'm not buying what you're selling. I think it's time you got a new job. How about helping me follow my bliss instead of criticizing me for being human?"

Now, this is powerful stuff. We have the power of push-back, participation. It is one thing to do the blah, blah, blah, the intellectual hoo-hah about awakening, and quite another to 'do the do.' Consider this analogy. You can try to understand the ocean by flying over it. Just like the psyche, we can agree that the field below is vast. This is not the same thing, however, as stepping into the water and having your own experience with the briny.

If you want a spectacular peek, check out the new Disney film that aired on Earth Day, Oceans. As you're ushered into the material, imagine that, just as physical nature has majesty to it, so does human nature. Humpback whales jumping out of the sea, are Herculean forces, yes, but so are yours, stirring in your depths, coming your way. There's a dance going on, if we are willing to put on those dancing shoes, and get rolling.

Never Say Never.

Getting better at letting go requires that we make more choices to Trust the Process, discovering the healing power this brings. Sometimes, what need's shedding is self-doubt, or attachment to the way your dream 'should' manifest. Listen to 'little brother's' story:

Self-limiting thoughts and behavior stalk my creativity like a cold hungry coyote who's been driven from the pack. It's desperate and unpredictable. It'll be gnawing at the first shoot of an idea before I even realize that I've let it kill my desire ... I've accepted that nowhere exists the great Guru with all of the answers; there is no authority figure for living life. I trust myself to find the tools that help me. Often the tools are actually the removal of limits I've placed upon myself.

Just two days ago I was talking with a friend ... who is an exceptional guitar player and singer. He said he wanted to get together and jam. I told him I get a little shy playing with musicians who are so much better than I. He told me a truth that I already knew but wasn't remembering, "It's not a competition, it's just about playing and having fun."

Amen, brothers and sisters. When Predator speaks, he tries to knock us out of the game, rob us of our music, often, by comparisons. Can we give that one a rest? What if you 'gave up for Lent,' (you don't have to be Catholic to do so), this 'comparison beast,' and turned, instead to Practicing Play? In a 10 year research project of mine (Inner City: World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation), it was apparent that the nearly atrophied muscle of these mover-and-shaker types, was creative play. Life Force moves best through Creation without resistance.

Letting Go of Impatience. Just as instructive, for every 'Max' out there, were feyangel's words:

It took me a few years to re-determine new goals and intentions ... a new game-plan. But finally I have reoriented myself and gotten a grasp of the new territory I am seeking to master as I grow older ... a bigger part of my focus is ENJOYING the life I have created.

Bill, from Montana, also shared a terrific tale about seeing himself with a hockey stick, in a hockey uniform as a child, not playing, but in the get-up. It was not until he became a man that, and this image from the deep. The Two Million Year Old Ancient, in our psyche, knows what 'he's' doing.

Sometimes, what needs releasing, for your own well-being, has to do with stuck-ness, misunderstandings, or old ways of relating to Predators and Protectors, alike. The worst stress is loss. Not only loss of someone you love, but the loss of an outlet for your unique way of loving your way of Original Belonging to the world, your contribution that has no apparent outlet.

Unexpected guests come and the center of gravity shifts. No small wonder that ancient myths portray this so often as a life teaching. When they appear, often in disguised forms, they test our genuine humanity, such as Jupiter and Mercury, Philemon and Baucus, Allah through Khidr. But, here's the kicker. I cannot be any kinder, and more humane to you, than I am willing to be with myself. The test is ongoing.

To be continued.

What Protector would you like to greet at your door today? How has the Protector shown up in unexpected forms, and ways? What Predator would you like to lose? What would you advise Max? I'm listening!

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Coming Soon! Life Long Learning Materials: "Coming Home to Yourself," "The Next Step," and others.

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