Release Your Inner Cringe!
Recently I was at a book signing for my new book Woman’s Way Home: Navigating Your Path to Embodied Power. There was a lull in the action and I had time to chat for a while with a woman, mother of 2 in her forties, who was curious about the book. After a good ten minutes hearing about how she listens to her true inner voice and honors whatever it is she most needs and desires, even when it means sitting on the sofa watching TV eating popcorn in the middle of the day if she feels like it, how her kids are not buying into the media hype of how to be in order to fit in, and how she has made peace with being a stay at home mom, I commented on what a great mother she is for modeling to her kids self love and self worth; 2 essential ingredients for healthy self esteem.
The moment I acknowledged her for being a great mom, her whole demeanor changed. Instead of the powerful and non-apologetic attitude for who she was I’d been witnessing, all of a sudden her whole being cringed. She sunk back into herself and got visibly and energetically smaller. It was clear she couldn’t tolerate being appreciated and applauded.
This became the perfect opportunity for me to go a little deeper with her. I pointed out her body’s “cringe” response and asked her about it. She acknowledged it and began to try to figure out why it happened. I immediately steered her away from the excuses of “why” in her head and guided her back to her body.
“What is that feeling?” I asked her.
She answered that it was fear. Fear of being found out for who she really is.
“Where is it in your body?” I continued.
“In my gut,” she answered.
“And what is the quality of sensation?” I guided her to inquire within herself,
“A tightness and nausea,” she offered.
Instead of having to change it, which would be implying it was wrong, (which is the reason that she was running from her body to her head in the first place) I invited her to just be with it, to make it okay and safe to be in her body instead of having to run away from it up into her head.
As we both came into loving non-judgment of her body’s experience, just being and breathing with it, I checked in with her to find out how it was in this moment. She shared that the sensation was beginning to dissolve. We stayed with it awhile longer, without agenda of it shifting or changing, and when I checked in, she shared that it was almost gone.
What I was doing was giving her the experience of tolerating the discomfort of the fear so that she stops running from and being run by it.
Once again, I told her she was a great Mom. While she felt a twinge of the inner tightening and sinking back, she was still able to soften around the sensation instead of denying it and disappearing into her head. I call this way of being with anything that comes up, of accepting it, being tender with it and letting it soften and have space. “Attending to our true selves”.
When we practice attending to emotions as they arise, we honor our body as a wise and safe abode and sustain intimacy with ourselves. It doesn’t mean that the inner cringe won’t ever happen again, it just means that when it does, you’ll use it as an invitation to tenderly attend to you, deepen intimacy with self, and practice the art of finding, loving and staying home in your beautiful and wise body.