Project U. Blog

Authoring Your Life Story with Care

Posted by Catherine Saar on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 @ 04:22 PM

As a child, I always loved reading and writing stories, exploring the inner lives of others, and wrapping myself in the blanket of adventure that authors weave. Yet somewhere, along my journey, my alleged need for financial survival surpassed my desire for the magic of reading and writing stories. Instead, I earned a business degree, worked in finance and began “pushing the river” so I could achieve what I guessed success looked like. I donned my little grey suit and my Brooks Brothers blouse and became a conscientious and hardworking investment banker.

I believed that if I did the “right things” the “right way”, I would be safe from harm. Furthermore, if I cut off emotions, I wouldn’t get hurt. If I loved someone enough, they would love me back.

Years and tears later, I figured out that much of my day-to day existence was built on false assumptions that governed my thoughts and behaviors. Once I developed that awareness, I began to unravel the tangled ball of yarn that had become the foundation of my life.

I realized that whatever story I told myself is what I would manifest, so I’d better check into any narrative I had, to determine if it was true, or right for me.

For a long time, one of my favorite stories was that I was unlovable and somehow fatally flawed. As I navigated my way through one challenging relationship after another, my partners were often happy to corroborate that notion.

When I was in my late 40’s, I took a trip to New Orleans, and met a Tarot Card reader. He surveyed my cards, sighed a long sigh, and said, “ You have been unlucky in love, but it is not your fault. You are simply learning what you want in a partner - and, you will find it. The best is yet to come”

I believed him. His words, “It is not your fault,” resonated through my entire being. I adapted a new story based on his perspective: I wasn’t unlovable, I was learning! There was hope. I saw my world with possibility, and that changed everything.


I still feel blessed to have been awakened to my narrative in such an offhanded way. For most of us, with or without Tarot Cards, it’s not easy to retell our story when we don’t even realize that we have one. I now know, that each and every day I craft a story about how I feel and what will happen next, so I take greater care in how I author these daily chapters.

Perhaps reading this, you may wonder if you also have a story – or several stories that keep you from yourself.

To that end, I ask, why not write a happier story? Perhaps a story that is kinder to you, and maybe to others?

Ask yourself:

· What story am I telling myself?

· What is another, more optimistic story that might also be true or truer?

· Then, close your eyes and imagine the new, happier story coming to life. What does that feel like? What becomes possible? How are you different?

Use your imagination and breathe into it. Allow it to live. Visit that vision and those feelings from time to time throughout the day.

Each time you open your eyes, remember that you too, are the author of your precious journey on this earth, so create with consideration, awareness and care.

Tags: journey, awareness, unlovable, manifest, inner lives, the right way, author

Character Flaw? Think Again.

Posted by Catherine Saar on Sat, Nov 16, 2013 @ 08:19 AM

If I had a dime for every self-deprecating thought that passed through my head in thisdescribe the image lifetime, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. And my hunch is that many of you would be too.  How many times did I think I was wrong, unlovable, dumb, lacking talent, and just not good enough?

What’s up with that?  Sure we make mistakes and we’re not perfect.  But who is?  In fact, for the most part, we are good, decent people who wish to contribute to each other in meaningful ways.

So why are we so capable at beating ourselves up with negative talk?

Having spent much of my life seeking equanimity, I found this simple truth:

There is nothing “defective” or “flawed” about me  - or you!  

Rather, we are addicted to “stinking thinking!” Over the years, we’ve developed negative thinking patterns that inform our feelings, which in turn, motivate much of our behavior. 

 This is usually how it goes: thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to behaviors and behaviors lead to consequences.   Consequences typically reinforce the thoughts that lead to feelings. And the cycle begins again.

We didn’t get here alone.  We’ve had lots of help forming negative thoughts. Parents, family, media, and even teachers were among the many misinformed who helped us to develop ideas like “I’m not good enough” or “I should be different than who I was born to be.”   Of course blaming others doesn’t solve anything, nor does passively awaiting rescue while we lick our wounds.  What does help? Mindful awareness and curiosity.  Can you stop judging yourself and wonder instead, “Why am I thinking this way?  What do I really want?”

In short, the key is awareness and shifting perspective.  Next time you notice a negative thought, can you question its validity and then reframe it?  Generally, if you dig around, you will uncover a positive or protective desire underneath the feelings that lead to your behaviors. Once you know that, you can strategize how to better meet your needs.

 Here are a few examples:

  • When you think you didn’t do enough, maybe it’s because you truly have a desire to contribute and want reassurance that you are contributing sufficiently.  How might you get that reassurance in a more productive way, rather than berating yourself? 
  • When you decide to react negatively to your partner, are you feeling scared that he or she doesn’t love you or understand you?  Is it possible that you want to protect yourself and that when you said the wrong thing; maybe you just wanted to be heard or seen for who you really are?  Could you have had that discussion in a different way without blaming him or her or yourself?

Translated, can you appreciate and acknowledge the good in you?  Know that it is there.  Most of us are just trying to do our best, as tender, vulnerable human beings.  We are afraid of being hurt, or hurting others, of not being or doing enough, or maybe doing or being too much. Very few of us wake up and think “I want to do a crappy job today”, or “I want to act like a jerk.” 

Can you begin to tease out the positive longings behind your negative feelings and behaviors? Can you name them with honesty and kindness for yourself and others?  And maybe handle situations that arise in a more life affirming and productive way?

I can’t say that you can change this overnight, but just becoming aware of the possibility can start you on a path to joyful change.  There are also lots of resources for healing and personal growth, including mindfulness practices, nonviolent communication, coaching and a host of therapeutic techniques.  As you embark on this process, you can begin to alter neural pathways – and that means that behavior change can become progressively easier.

I wish you much joy, peace, and success!  Here are some resources for you to explore on your journey to self-acceptance and self-realization:

Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

What Happy People Know by Dan Baker  

The Work of Byron Katie

Mediate Your Life



Tags: nonviolent communication, coaching, contribute, kindness, character flaw, judging, behavior change, What Happy People Know, self-realization, curiosity, Martha Beck, beating ourselves up, equanimity, The Work of Byron Katie, Mediate Your Life, mindful, productive, unlovable, not good enough, negative thoughts, self acceptance