Don't Be So Hard On Yourself

curving road in New Zealand
Image by Bettina Nørgaard

Narrated by Marie T. Russell.

Video version

Each one of us is unique -- not only in physical appearance, but our emotions, thoughts, and dreams are also unique. Thus, when we choose to be true to the path of our Higher Self, that won't look like anyone else's path. There will be similarities of course, but our path is uniquely ours.

No one can teach us what it is or even really how to get there. Others can help us discover our "inner workings", they can provide examples, tools, suggestions, but we are the only ones who can truly know what is "right" for us. It either feels right or it doesn't.

Unfortunately, for the most part, our educational system has not been geared to teach us any of these life skills. We've learned how to read books, but not "read" our hopes and dreams. We've learned to count numbers, but not to discover the mathematics of also creating an abundant life of joy, love and a feeling of wholeness. We've experienced being with others in a classroom setting, but not necessarily been taught the skills to relate to others with compassion and love. 

For these non-physical skills, we have usually had to rely on the "school of life", which some people experience as the school of hard knocks. But, every challenge we go through has a gift, otherwise known as a life lesson. And sometimes it seems that the harder experiences are the ones with the greater lessons. 

However, another tool in the "school of life" is serendipity, sometimes called "coincidence" or "luck". Things or people that can assist us on our journey are presented to us, at times very subtly at at other times more forcefully, and we get to choose whether to pay attention... or not. I have found that following serendipity is what makes my life go more smoothly and joyfully.

Being willing to follow the guidance that is always present, in a variety of ways, is what makes our life's journey much less of a struggle. Sometimes the guidance comes in something you read or see. At other times it is something you hear, either from a friend, or even someone you don't know, who just "happens" to mention something that could be useful to you on your journey. 

Opening our eyes, ears, and heart to the world around us, as well as the world inside of us, will help guide us on the path of our life's unique journey.

Love Is The Key

Some people say they have difficulty connecting with their inner voice or inner guidance. Yet, we all have a very simple "radar" to point us in the direction of our dreams and true self. That radar or compass is Love.

The things we love to do or enjoy doing, these things are the ones that are part of our life path. Some people use the expression: "It makes my heart sing." When your heart is happy, joyful, and full of love, you are on your true unique path. If you are sad, depressed, or feeling lonely for extended periods of time, then you've stepped off your true path. It's really that simple.

Love, joy, inner peace... these are the indications that you are at the right place at the right time... with the right attitude. If you are grumpy, angry, stressed, etc., those energies are more a sign of being stuck, usually in some attitude, emotion or memory. 

So to discover if you're on your true path, ask yourself: "Do I love what I'm doing? Am I at peace with who I am right now? Do I find joy in where I'm headed?" If your answer to any of these questions is no, then an attitude adjustment or a change in direction is called for. If your answer is yes, then let your joy and your love shine. 

Seeds of Abundance

Abundance is often thought of just in the form of money. However, as I gather fruit and berries in the fall, I am reminded that nature is abundance itself. This year, the blackberry bushes are full and they have provided ripe berries every day this month. The apple trees are so loaded that branches are bending and touching the ground with their bounty. While my garden is not doing that well, the things that Nature herself is taking care of are doing great! In other words, the things that are out of my control are doing great, and the things I try to control (like my garden) are not doing as well.

It seems there's a lesson there. When I give up the need to control the outcome, things have a way of working out. In a similar way, when I try to follow a recipe exactly, it doesn't turn out as well as when I just "go with the flow" and add or substract ingredients as my intuition suggests. And the dishes that were made just from inspiration (also known as "whatever I had on hand") turn out to be absolutely wonderful. 

So when we are moving forward on our life path, being willing to let go of how we think it "should" be, or what we think we "should" do, or what others think, may be the key to reaping an abundance of joy and fulfilment on our path. 

The seeds of abundance are everywhere in our life, both in nature, and in our own day to day experiences. But when we are gearing our actions on fear, or doubts, and trying to control the outcome, we block the flow of abundance that is naturally present. However, being willing to give of ourselves "abundantly" -- our time, our love, our compassion, our money -- those are the seeds of abundance in our life.

True Wisdom and Pure Love

Life consists of choices... some are "good" choices, and others not so good. However every choice we make helps us build a foundation of wisdom gained from experience.

As I think of wisdom, and what it means for me, The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. The original version is slightly different than the one you may be familiar with and it goes like this:  

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

As we go forward on our life's journey, we accumulate wisdom. One source of wisdom, of course, is experience, both ours and the experience of those who have come before us. Another source of wisdom is our inner or divine self, the small voice that speaks to us internally to guide us along the way. And a third voice of wisdom is the voice of Pure Love, the voice of our conscience, which shows us the most loving way, both for ourselves and for the world at large.

Accepting What Has Been

One of the blockages to advancing on our life's path is our self-judgment. We tend to judge and criticize ourselves for things we have done, or things we didn't do that we think we "should have done" or could have done better.

These negative thoughts and vibrations block the flow of life's positive energy. The negativity we send towards our own self stops our innate creativity and receptivity to our intuition and makes it difficult for highest good to manifest.

Thus, in order to progress on our life's path with joy and harmony, we need to drop all self-recrimination and accept that whatever has happened is over and done with. What is past is in the past. There is no point in dwelling in the "I should have done better" world. Yes, we can benefit from learning from our mistakes, of course, but then we accept the choices we made, and we move on to creating a better life for ourselves and for the world at large.

Choose Gratitude

One of the best attitudes we have in our "toolbox" of life is gratitude. When we place our energy, our thoughts, our actions, on being grateful for what we have and for the possibilities in our life, we open the door wide to that energy.

On the other hand, when our energy is focused on "what ifs", on grudges, on feelings of lack, then we open the door to those energies. So which do we want to flourish?

Focusing on gratitude, on love, and having positive thoughts about the outcome will feed the energies that we choose. Whatever our choice -- and it is a choice -- that energy will increase in our lives.

The Greatest Gift

Since each one of us is unique, as unique and original beings, we each have our own "signature", our own voice, our own role to play.

In order to be true to ourselves and to our life's path, we must be ourselves in all our quirkiness, our strangeness, our individuality. This is the greatest gift we can give, not only to ourselves, but to the world around us.

I often refer to all of us as puzzle pieces. When one piece is missing, or hiding in the shadows, the puzzle cannot be whole. Each part, no matter where it is located in the puzzle, no matter the size, color, or shape, is as important as any other piece.

Thus, to attain true happiness and fulfilment, we must honor who we are, without judgment and fear. We must be willing to shine our light out into the shadows and the darkness, whether internal or external. Be the unique gift you are!

Article inspired by:

The Life Navigator Deck
by Jane Delaford Taylor and Manoj Vijayan.

cover art: The Life Navigator Deck byby Jane Delaford Taylor and Manoj Vijayan.Whether we are navigating tumultuous eddies or paddling in still water, this set of inspirational cards offers guidance and new perspectives for our day. The cards focus on empowering us, encouraging us to trust in our own innate abilities to handle life in a truly positive, creative and dynamic way. 

The pack can be dipped into for instant inspiration as each card contains one idea with the text beautifully supported by well-chosen artwork. 

Info/Order this card deck.


About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on


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