Permission to Be Kind

 
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What if we gave ourselves permission to be EXACTLY where we are right now? 

Even if we're not where we're supposed to be.

Even if we're not where we should be.

Even if we're not where other people expect us to be.

And stopped beating ourselves up.

What if we gave ourselves permission to be human?

Even when that means falling short.

Even when that means making a mistake. 

Even when that means feeling. 

And stopped beating ourselves up.

What if, instead of beating ourselves up, we met ourselves with kindness and compassion? 

{I know. I had a visceral reaction too.}

I used to believe my inner critic was my edge. The driving force behind my success and accomplishments. 

I told myself that letting go of my inner critic meant letting go of growth.

Besides, I wondered, who would I be without this voice DRIVING me?

Until Greg Harden, my mentor and The Man Who Saved My Life , gave me a 'homework' assignment. Deep in middle of my battle with an eating disorder, he challenged me with a simple task that felt anything but simple: 

Name the Voice. 

I always thought that voice was my own - so part of me scoffed at the idea. And, I named it anyway. Because, perfection + rule following + Type A. And, G didn't mess around.

I named it ED - because this beast apparently was responsible for my eating disorder. 

THIS step. Recognizing that this voice in my head wasn't ME. It changed everything. 

Everything. 

When I struggled saying the things ED would tell me out loud, I started to get it. Oftentimes, as soon as the words would fly out of my mouth, I could see the abuse. The disempowerment. The manipulation. The control.

The fear. 

That awareness - and two years of working with a therapist AND G - helped me develop the skill set needed to release its stranglehold on my life.

One thing was clear - with ED driving and calling the shots, there was ZERO room for joy. And it certainly wasn't an environment that nurtured growth.  

AND.

Even with all that - years later, I was still afraid to take the leap. Afraid to make the shift. To REALLY release the grip of the *other* inner critics - like the voice of Never Enough. 

I clearly saw how ED drove me to an eating disorder - but deep down, I wondered, did this inner critic drive me to my dreams?

When my world shattered into a million pieces four years ago - the many voices of the inner critic went down with it. 

I've spent the past four years researching and reflecting - and pulling ALL the pieces of my story together. 

Here's what I know with absolute certainty: 

The inner critic is born out of fear. And, sure, fear can motivate.

Temporarily, until it debilitates. 

Until the joy is completely sucked out of the journey. 
Until the price becomes dangerously high.
Until relationships are damaged. 
Until shame starts to suffocate. And silence. 

This is it. This is our one life.

We have to ask ourselves:

Is this really how we want to spend our time here?

All that time and energy and strain and stress of worrying about things beyond my control was wasted. 

The critical thoughts are going to come. It's part of being human. 

Here's the thing:

We get to choose how we show up. We get to choose whether or not we engage with the thoughts that come into our mind.

The only place the inner critic has ever driven me is opposite of my dreams. I achieved my childhood dreams because of my deep curiosity, love of challenges and desire for growth. ALL born out of the powerful force that is love. 

Here's the Truth: I haven't stopped growing.

In fact, I've opened myself up to new levels of growth and feedback. I'm charging toward my dreams and crossing off goals - AND - allowing myself to experience a deeper, richer, lasting joy on the journey.

That voice isn't our 'edge' - it's a living bully. 

It's time to step back into the driver's seat of your life. 

I know it takes a leap of faith. 

And, I know it takes a village.

I believe in you. 

You are capable. And worthy of this kind of freedom.

~

Just a quick not to say THANK YOU for the outpouring of love and support RE my TEDx. I’m so touched by the messages and notes - truly. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey. ✨🙏💫

P.S. THIS is the kind of work I'm doing with my clients - and it's the kind of work we'll do together in the Rise Free Academy.  It's not work we do alone - if you are ready for another level of support, let's connect to see if we're a good fit for each other.
~

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Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, transformational speaker, high performance coach, mama of four girls. 

Samantha empowers women to cultivate the courage, resilience and perseverance needed to live their dreams. She helps her clients expand their high performance skill set and let go of beliefs that are keeping them stuck - opening up the door for freedom, balance and joy that transcends.

Samantha candidly shares her battles with her inner critic, depression, perfection, PTSD and parenting as a working mother because she believes in the transformative power of story – and the strength that comes from knowing we are not alone. She is on a mission to pay forward all that she’s learned to help others find joy and live free.
  
A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. You can learn more about Samantha at www.samanthalivingstone.com.