Hello, dear internet friends,
How are you doing? Like, really? That’s one of those questions we often answer like a reflex—“I’m fine!” “Good!”—whether our words reflect the truth or not. But I’m increasingly appreciating the value of being honest about how I’m doing, at least in situations where I feel comfortable to share. It’s not dramatic or burdensome to others to say, “Actually, I’m not feeling my best today.” And admittedly, I haven’t been feeling great this month. Everything in my life is fine—wonderful, even!—but physically, I’ve not been feeling well, and that has made it hard to be as creative and productive as I would like. Because of that, I’ve had to contend with my ghost self quite a bit lately. She’s even better at feeling bad than I am. Who knew?
I’ve been thinking a lot about practical strategies for dealing with our ghost selves so that we can strengthen our relationships with our real selves. I’m hoping to share those ideas in future months after I’ve had more time to put them to the test. What I have learned this month is the importance of accepting the season of life that you’re in. I really enjoy life coach and author Michelle Elman’s podcast, In All Honesty, and I’ve been re-listening to older episodes lately. In this episode on self-worth, she discusses how personal growth occurs in cycles, with phases for learning, implementing what you’ve learned, and settling into your growth. I love that idea, and it inspired me to realize that there is a lot of value in recognizing what your current season of life is about—and what you need from it. Time for extra rest or bustling busyness. Time to dig into one particular project or explore many interests. Time to work through something difficult or celebrate how far you’ve come. Not every season will be your favorite, but once you accept the one you’re in, you can make the best of what it is. And recognize that it will pass. As seasons always do.
In the season I’m in, this month felt like a good one to step back and share some words of wisdom from other women writers. I hope that the quotes below inspire you to think about how you approach your relationship with yourself, and maybe try a new self-love strategy or recommit to one that you know works. If any particular quote stands out to you, I encourage you to further check out the author’s work. Each author has a wealth of insights that you can access; all of them have written books, and some are producing podcasts or newsletters as well. I’ve included some personal notes about their work below each quote!
I love you, and I hope you are giving yourself the care you deserve today—no matter what this season of life is throwing your way. I’ll see you next month.
This quote really resonated with me as I’ve been thinking about the ghost selves we hold ourselves up against. The quote is from Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of advice columns that Strayed wrote as the then-anonymous “Sugar” for The Rumpus. Every time I read Strayed’s work, I feel like my brain cells are rearranging to make space for the compassionate insights on life she provides through her gorgeous writing. Strayed is currently writing the Dear Sugar column as a paid newsletter, which you can check out here. (Note: Strayed’s work does address heavy topics and include adult language.)
One of the most contradictory truths about getting trapped in a cycle of self-criticism, at least in my experience, is that it ultimately makes me more self-focused, even though the critical voice in my mind claims it’s delivering its harsh verdicts to make me a “better” person. This quote reminded me of the power of stepping outside of myself—through helping others or seeking out simple pleasures in the world around me—for breaking that cycle. Pipher’s work has meant so much to me since I read Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls as a teenager. An updated version of the book—written with Pipher’s daughter, Sara Pipher Gilliam—was published in 2019. If you like to write, I also highly recommend Writing to Change the World.
As I mentioned previously, Michelle Elman is a life coach and author who hosts her own podcast called In All Honesty. She also recently started a newsletter called Growth Spurts, which I’m excited to follow! This quote is from her book on boundaries called The Joy of Being Selfish. It made me think about how I hold myself to standards that no one else—perhaps especially those I love—measures me by. As Elman further explains in the passage that this quote is pulled from, we are all innately worthy. We do not need to build our lives around the pursuit of proving our worth.
I have written about the basics of self-compassion on the blog before, and I think it is such a beautiful, powerful concept—learning to show ourselves the kindness and care we would give to others in the face of struggles or mistakes. Dr. Kristin Neff pioneered the field of research on self-compassion, and her website about it is a great place to start for learning the basics and some exercises for putting self-compassion into practice.
I found this quote in a Word document of favorite quotes that I started in high school or shortly after—suffice it to say, Jess Weiner’s work has impacted my life for a long time! Around that time, I read her book Life Doesn’t Begin Five Pounds from Now: A Step-by-Step Guide to Loving Your Body Today (then published under the title Do I Look Fat in This?). If you’re ready to uncover what’s underneath negative body talk, that book is the perfect place to start. Weiner has a wealth of personal development resources—from a variety of podcasts that she’s hosted to an online course about building a “Good Life”—that are available on her website. I really enjoy her email newsletter as well (sign-up is available on the home page). The most recent one talked about the “marathons” we all run in our lives, and that metaphor has been so helpful with powering through this season of my life!