My Spiritual Identity

Prayer, then, is listening to that voice — to the One who calls you the Beloved. It is to constantly go back to the truth of who we are and claim it for ourselves. I’m not what I do. I’m not what people say about me. I’m not what I have. Although there is nothing wrong with success, there is nothing wrong with popularity, there is nothing wrong with being powerful, finally my spiritual identity is not rooted in the world, the things the world gives me. My life is rooted in my spiritual identity. Whatever we do, we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing, p. 67

Fear or Love

We are being motivated by fear or love in every encounter we experience. This may seem like an oversimplification, but I have found that it’s the best way for me to judge my actions or reactions to others on my path. If I am able to observe people living however they choose, without it unduly upsetting me, then I am practicing acceptance, which is an act of love. If I am agitated by their actions, I am experiencing fear, and I want them to change.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 227

Self-Compassion vs. Self-Criticism and Self-Pity

Self-compassion is a sympathetic response to your hurt, distress, or vulnerability, with a motivation to heal, repair, and improve. It brings a sense of empowerment — a feeling that you can do something to make your life better, even if you are not sure what that might be at the moment. It tends to keep you focused on solutions in the present and future.

Self-criticism is blaming yourself for your hurt, distress, or vulnerability, usually with a measure of punishment or contempt. It’s based on the mistaken idea that if you punish yourself enough you won’t make similar mistakes in the future, when just the opposite is true — self-punishment leads to more mistakes. (Who is more likely to make more mistakes, the valued self or the devalued self?) Self-pity is focus on your pain or damage with no motivation to heal, repair, or improve. It has an element of contempt for your perceived incompetence or inadequacy because it assumes that you can’t do anything to make your life better. Needless to say, self-criticism and self-pity turn pain into suffering.

— Steven Stosny, PhD, Living and Loving After Betrayal, p. 22-23