What Taking Care of Yourself Really Means – Elizabeth Gilbert


Click on the link above for this vitally important and approachable piece by Liz Gilbert (‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘Big Magic’) on how to make sense of the – so difficult for so many – idea of loving yourself:-

“Pretend you’ve just adopted that dog from a kill shelter. You don’t know anything about this animal’s history – and you don’t need to know. You can see she’s been abused, and she’s afraid of being abandoned or hurt again. Now imagine this: It’s your first night home alone with that dog, and she’s trembling in fear. How would you treat her? Would you scream at her and tell her she’s an idiot? Would you kick her? Would you lock her in a dark room all alone? Would you starve her or let her binge-eat a bunch of garbage? Would you let her stay in an environment where other dogs attack her every day?” 

The writer had a conversation with someone at the weekend about ‘self esteem’ and ‘self love’. He said he could make little headway with the idea of ‘improving’ his ‘low self esteem’, but was much more able to engage with the idea of connecting with/loving his animal. It struck us both that there is a key distinction: the idea of ‘raising self esteem’ starts with the idea that we are not acceptable as we are, and need to get ourselves somewhere else (‘higher self esteem’); by contrast, loving ourselves requires no movement – indeed the essential element is that we simply love whatever needs loving, in whatever condition, right now, just as we are.

Ironically, this is far more likely to allow us to expand and grow, than any amount of self help (or therapeutic help) designed to ‘raise self esteem’. And, of course, that perception connects into the heart of the person centred approach:-

“I find I am more effective when I can listen acceptantly to myself, and can be myself.  I feel that over the years I have learned to become more adequate in listening to myself; so that I know, somewhat more adequately than I used to, what I am feeling in any given moment … One way of putting this is that I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am.  It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function. This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move.  It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.”

Carl Rogers: On Becoming a Person

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in abuse, acceptance, compassion, conditions of worth, consciousness, cultural questions, Disconnection, Elizabeth Gilbert, embodiment, empathy, encounter, fear, healing, identity, kindness & compassion, love, Mary Oliver, metaphor & dream, physical being, power and powerlessness, presence, sadness & pain, self, self concept, shame, therapeutic growth, therapeutic relationship, transformation, trauma, trust, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anne Lamott on Responding to current challenges


More compassion and wisdom from Anne Lamott, for our U.S. readers, and all of us feeling fear and grief about some of what is happening in our world.

Here’s the text, for those who have difficulty seeing Facebook links:-

‘We are so doomed. There is nothing we can do. We are at the mercy of two evil ignorant syphilitic madmen, the two worst people on earth. I mean that nicely.

Where do we even start?

We stop trying to figure things out. “Figure it out” is not a good slogan. We practice trust, and surrender, and attention to what we know is beautiful: dogs, art, the Beatles, each other’s eyes. And we don’t give up hope. Emily Dickinson said that hope encourages the Good to reveal itself. We need all the Good we can summon in these Locked and Loaded days.

So what do we hope for?

Pivot! A perfect time for the Pivot.

Just kidding.

We hope and pray for the return of sanity, or even sanity-ish. I do not hope for a successful Trump presidency or failed Trump presidency. I hope that he does not blow up the whole world.

Is that so much to ask?

What if he accidentally blows up a little bit of the world?

Well, these things happen. We’ll stick together. What has always lifted my spirits is a promise that I made to myself, that if it looks like the end of the world, I get to eat every single thing on earth that can’t outrun me: the last few days, I will only eat nachos and creme brûlée and Safeway carrot cake. Oatbags of M&M’s. No vegetable matter!

That’s something to look forward to!

One more question: how do we get to hope in these dark ratty days?

We don’t think our way to hope. We take the actions, and then the insight follows. The insight is that hope springs from awareness of love, immersion in love, commitment to love. This begins with radical self love: to save the world, make yourself a lovely cup of tea. Put lotion on your jiggly thighs, clean sheets on the bed, the most forgiving pants you own. On the possibly last day on earth, you do not want to be wearing pants that pinch or tug, or ride up your crack.

Trust me on this.

Radical self love means you treat yourself the same way you would treat your favorite cousin, or even cranky old mealy-mouthed me. Watch the self-talk. You would probably use a sweeter tone of voice with the cousin or me, that you would with yourself. This will change the world.

Get outside, even just to the front porch, and look up into the sky and into the tree tops, and say the great praise – prayer: WOW. Listen for the sound of birds–or bird. Surely there is one lousy bird somewhere in the vicinity. Close your eyes and really listen. If birdsong was the ONLY proof we have that there is a bigger deeper reality than what transcends what we are seeing on the news, it would be enough for me. Eyes closed, breathe, listen: secret of life.

And lastly, take care of the poor – right now. In Hallelujah Anyway, I wrote that when I got sober, I was taught that happiness lay in going from big shot, to servant. If you want to feel loving feelings, which is hope, do loving things. Send a donation to a group that feeds and shelters and clothes people, in your neighborhood, or Syria. Don’t tell yourself you have no money – pack up clothes and shoes to take to a shelter. Or cash in the money in your laundry room change cup, and give it to people on the street. Give away three dollars to moms on the street with kids, and give the kids colored pencils and journals, or index cards, and say,”It is good to see you,” even if you have tiny tiny judgment issues involving bootstraps and combed hair.

If you have time, register a few voters. Also, maybe a ten minute nap–the writer Robyn Posin says rest is a spiritual act. Father Tom Weston urges, “Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe.” Ram Dass tells us that ultimate ately, we are all just walking each other home. Let’s get started.

Am sending you love, whoever you are, and as pastor Veronica says, God bless you good.’

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in 'evil', abuse, Anne Lamott, beauty, boundaries, core conditions, creativity, cultural questions, empowerment, encounter, ethics, fear, gratitude, grief, interconnection & belonging, kindness & compassion, love, meaning, mindfulness, natural world, perception, physical being, power and powerlessness, presence, resilience, sadness & pain, shadow, trauma, trust, values & principles, vulnerability, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabor Maté on emotion, suppression & our immune response

‘Because of the physiological unity of mind/body, because of the physiological unity of the brain’s emotional centers, the immune system, the hormonal and nervous systems, when you suppress something in one area you are risking suppressing it in another area, so when you suppress your anger and boundaries emotionally, you are also suppressing your immune responses. And therefore your body is not as able to fight back against malignancy or, just as anger can turn against the self, so can the immune system

Anger is a necessary boundary protection. If something or somebody transgresses your boundaries, you express anger, not necessarily to hurt them, but simply to keep them out of your space. That’s a healthy response. More generally, the role of emotion is to keep out that which is dangerous or threatening, and to permit that which is nurturing and helpful. So we have anger, we have love, we have attraction, we have revulsion, the whole thing. But that’s exactly the role of the immune system. It’s to keep out that which is noxious and unhealthy, and to attack it if necessary, and to allow in that which is nurturing and supportive.’

Dr Gabor Maté

Thank you to Jason Hine on Facebook for posting this quote.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in anger, boundaries, Disconnection, embodiment, emotions, Gabor Mate, physical being | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Criticism: Are you willing to take the hit? Toko-pa


Click on the above link to visit Toko-pa’s site for this helpful reflective piece, on our ability to receive criticism, and distinguish between what has the potential to teach us and what is harmful.

‘…there are two major consequences to your shrinking back: The first is the truncation of your soul’s purpose. Ouch, right? Well, something inclined you to create in the first place and, as most creative folks know, the creative cycle can’t complete itself until your gifts are received — for better or worse. Also, that urge to create? It’s not going away. The second consequence is the loss felt by everyone who will never receive the unique medicine you are meant to bring.

So ultimately you have to decide; are you willing to take the hit on behalf of all those who need exactly what you’re bringing? Or will you let them take the hit, by your remaining quiet?’

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994


Posted in acceptance, awakening, boundaries, congruence, consciousness, creativity, cultural questions, empowerment, external locus, fear, gratitude, identity, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, loneliness, loss, meaning, perception, relationship, resilience, self, self concept, self esteem, shame, shaming, Toko-pa, values & principles, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hildegard of Bingen on finding our own way home

“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”

Hildegard of Bingen

“Selected Writings,” (Penguin Classics, 2001)

Deeply person-centred reflection….

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in actualizing tendency, autonomy, awakening, consciousness, empowerment, external locus, fear, human condition, internal locus of evaluation, meaning, organismic experiencing, perception, person centred, person centred theory, self, self concept, trust | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Change the World Enough – Alice Walker

To change the world enough
you must cease to be afraid
of the poor.
We experience your fear as the least pardonable of
humiliations; in the past
it has sent us scurrying off
daunted and ashamed
into the shadows.
the world ending
the only one all of us have known
we seek the same
fresh light
you do:
the same high place
and ample table.
The poor always believe
there is room enough
for all of us;
the very rich never seem to have heard
of this.
In us there is wisdom of how to share
loaves and fishes
however few;
we do this everyday.
Learn from us,
we ask you.
We enter now
the dreaded location
of Earth’s reckoning;
no longer far
or hidden in books
that claim to disclose
it is here.
We must walk together without fear.
There is no path without us.

Alice Walker


Here’s a book link. Not sure if this one is in it, but there will be many other treasures if not:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in 'evil', civil rights, cultural questions, equality, ethics, fear, human condition, interconnection & belonging, love, paradigm shift, political, power and powerlessness, shadow, violence, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leonard Cohen – Dance Me To The End Of Love

The late, much missed Leonard Cohen, doing what only he could do.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in creativity, Leonard Cohen, love, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment