Posted by: devonellington | September 27, 2021

Mon. Sept. 27, 2021: Why?

image courtesy of Arek Socha from

For those of you who followed The Move From Hell this past summer over on my daily blog, Ink in My Coffee, you know that I spiraled into a bad cycle of self-criticism and self-loathing. I felt like a failure for struggling with the move, struggling to find people to hire, struggling to get the money together and to get everything done on everyone else’s schedules.

I assumed that, once the move was complete, the negative self-talk would stop, because I was out of the stressful situation and into a good situation.

But it didn’t. If anything, I got more self-critical, not less.

So I had to really look at what I was doing, how I was hurting myself, and make different choices.

One of the techniques I’ve started doing, anytime I start getting self-critical of myself or someone else, is stopping, taking a breath, and asking “why?” This is, of course, provided it’s not a life-and-death situation that requires immediate response.

I ask, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why does this situation warrant such a response? Is there a better way to respond?”

Taking the time to stop, assess, and make a better choice gives a chance for the reflexive anger to melt away and more positive solution to come forward.

In the case of “Why am I doing this to myself?” it’s often the dregs from the self-criticism and sense of failure I felt around the move (although the move itself has been to a better, happier situation all the way around).

Most of time, whether it’s a mistake I’ve made, or annoyance at something someone else has done, it doesn’t warrant a gigantic, angry response. Small annoyances, which don’t really affect me directly, or aren’t any of my business, can be let go. It’s not denying the feeling of annoyance, but it’s accepting that everyone is doing the best they can, and, in the scheme of the universe, it is not about ME.

When it’s something like an anti-vaxxer/anti-masker putting people at risk, that’s something different. That’s putting lives in danger. That DOES warrant a strong response, and it is our collective responsibility to respond.

“Is there a better way to respond?” Often, the answer is yes. Taking time to figure out that “better response” often works out better for everybody involved.

When it comes to most of the small annoyances, most of the time, the other individual has no idea they even had that impact. And that’s fine.

Because not everything is about me.

Discerning when it’s appropriate to be about me and to stand up for myself, and when it’s not about me, doesn’t really affect me, and should be let go, makes a huge, positive difference.

These ties into the theory of “sacred pause” in the book RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach. This book was brought to my attention in the Thursday online Meditation group I attend, sponsored by Concord Public Library, and guided by the amazing and inspiring Lara Wilson of Be Well Be Here. We practiced the pause and the self-compassion in our practice, and I wanted to learn more. So, I got the book and am working my way through it, and learning that, what I’d been drawn to instinctively is actually both a spiritual and psychotherapy tool.

For me, this “sacred pause” works better than the “flip the script” that’s so often touted, where, for every negative piece of self-talk, you give yourself three positive self-talks. In the moment of self-criticism, I can’t FIND three positives.

But taking the pause, acknowledging what I feel, but not letting it define or punish me, allows me to find a healthier solution.

What are some of your favorite tools when you fall into the rabbit hole of self-criticism?


  1. […] post on the GDR site is about how I’m trying to form a better perspective on […]

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