by Rebecca Aced-Molina

Last month I wrote a blog post on how I learned to stand up for myself.  I described how I learned to state clearly, calmly and confidently what I needed and required in a contract with a client prior to accepting it. Sounds easy enough -  but for someone like me socialized to “be flexible” or always “find a win-win” (and underneath that “please people and make them like me”) it actually isn’t that easy.  So when I am able to let go of my attachment to approval from others – it is fun to share! 

So, one of the key points I made was that for me to hold a boundary, I need to connect with my “core self.”  We all have a core self, but often this self feels illusive.  Spiritual traditions, as well as psychological theories, share a common idea about the “core self” which I have found extremely helpful in standing up for myself when it is hard.  Multiple traditions, practices, and theories point to a part of the human psyche that is “core.” Many thanks to Guthrie Sayen and Mary Kuentz from Leadership that Works for deepening my knowledge in this area.   The “core self” is calm, confident, peaceful, joyful, wise, and generous (among many other welcome things).  The core self, goes by many names; “inner wisdom”, “higher self”, “pure essence” , “divine within” among other attempts at naming this essential source of our innate human magnificence. 

The trouble is, our core self often gets upstaged by other parts of ourselves.  Through various inevitable events in life; to put it simply – our feelings get hurt.  Growing up; as we interact with our parents, teachers, boyfriends, the media we hear messages that amount to: you aren’t really all that capable, attractive, smart, fun, etc.  Part of us knows our core self is special and amazing and magnificent, and especially as a child, when we feel that self is threatened – another part of us in born:  our protector.  Our protector is often born in childhood but actively persist into adulthood.  Our protector surfaces as an inner voice of self-criticism, doubt, jealousy, fear.  Our protector is scared of getting hurt again, and so he does anything he can to stop us from acting in a way that might cause us pain.  This part goes by many names as well, depending on who you read, which include; “Inner Critic”, “Calculating Self”, “Gremlin”, “Self-Sabotager”, “Perfectionist” among others.

We all want to more access to our core self, and would like to operate from her as our base.  Most of us have had moments in life when we’ve felt that core part of ourselves really alive and would like to feel that more often.  I am going to outline a simple process, based in Mindfulness Techniques, that helps me connect with my core self. 

The first step of a Mindfulness Practice is becoming more aware.    “Oh, huh…there’s that voice telling me to stop dreaming…saying that dream is beyond my capability…that I am not ever going to have the discipline to do that… there you are again…how fascinating!”  I try to see the voice not as an enemy, but rather a good friend who’s just a really bad communicator.  For example, rather than resist the voice of doubt, I try to listen with curiosity.  “Hey there, voice of doubt.  What’s going on?  What are you scared of?  Tell me more about what makes you anxious about me dreaming?”  I don’t make her “right” or give in to her concerns, but rather just listen with an open mind.  When the voice feels some love, she mellows out quite a bit I’ve found.  Partly, I am simply owning the fact that sometimes I feel a lot of doubt.  Oh well!  And suddenly a space has opened for the core self to breathe. 

Listening, honoring, and actually loving these inner protectors (who are also really bad communicators) is part of reaching balance and wholeness in ourselves.  A place in which all of our self is welcome. 

“We live under the impression that in order for something to be divine it has to be perfect. We are mistaken.  In fact the exact opposite is true.  To be divine is to be whole and to be whole is to be everything: the positive and the negative, the good and the bad, the holy man and the devil.”  Debbie Ford

This is the part of the blog post where I often offer a “tip” or a practice.  Some sort of “how to.”  The thing about connecting with my core self, is that once I have, I don’t have to think so much.  Processes and structures suddenly become less necessary.   When I give myself permission to observe, to welcome, and to love all parts of myself, I find I can drop the strategy, the effort, the pushing, and just trust in the core self’s resourcefulness.   When I am here, I speak my truth without fear.