Are You Ever Hard on Yourself?

Are You Ever Hard on Yourself?

Dear Self Aware Soul, 

Most of us are hard on ourselves in many ways. We often treat ourselves much more harshly than anyone else ever could, and it really is an “inside job.”

When I first began to be aware of my inner talk decades ago, I had no idea that I had parts of me inside that were speaking unkindly all the time to me, or that I could have any effect over what they were saying. I thought I was just “naturally” a perfectionist or an over-achiever or a worrier. I didn’t know then about Inner Critics and how they behave.

I found out that I could create new loving self-talk, be much less hard on myself and feel better much more often. This awareness and shift has profoundly changed my life and experiences, and I want to share this information so you can have this opportunity also.

I’m so glad to introduce to you (if you don’t know them already!) my fabulous dear friends and co-authors Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo, and their brand-new book, Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself & Start Loving Yourself. I heartily endorse this book and contributed a Transformational Tale to it about my own Inner Mean Girls. We sat down together and talked (and laughed) all about this subject on video too. 

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I also asked them to write an article about Inner Mean Girls, that I could share with you.  


Do You Have an INNER Mean Girl Bullying You?
by Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo

You hear about Mean Girls all the time. Mean Girls in the hallways of junior high. Mean Girls in the conference room or at the PTA meeting. 

But there is one Mean Girl that no woman can escape. 


Meet your INNER Mean Girl. 

She’s the force that lives inside of you that fills your head with negative thoughts, bullies you into making self-sabotaging choices, and can make even the most successful woman feel like crap in two seconds flat. She bullies you into working more, doing more, and saying yes when you should say no. She’s a pro at making you feel inferior by comparing you to others, pointing out what you haven’t yet accomplished, and judging you by totally unrealistic standards.  She’s the one behind your obsessive thinking, worrying, and perfectionism, and the one who makes you eat/spend/drink too much and ask too little for what you need and what you are worth.


At the deepest level your Inner Mean Girl is a reflection of the things within yourself that you can’t be with – fear, shame, anger, disappointment, sadness, rejection, not feeling loved – that subconsciously you are trying to avoid feeling, but are in fact running you and ultimately sabotaging the happiness and success you work so hard for.


The person we women bully the most is ourselves. Our girls are doing it too, starting at the age of 6! We are in the midst of a self-bullying epidemic. And the culprit behind it is your Inner Mean Girl.


The good news is there is a cure. Much like outer mean girls, Inner Mean Girls can be reformed.


Step number one is to get to know your particular type of Inner Mean Girl and how she operates within you. Over the past 5 years, after working with over 30,000 women and girls around the world, we have discovered 13 distinct types of Inner Mean Girls that specifically torment and sabotage those of us of the female gender.


We’ve listed four of the most common Inner Mean Girl Archetypes here along with their toxic habits – see if any of these ring true for you (and notice that while all Inner Mean Girls are pushy,  not all Inner Mean Girls are mean – some are sneaky, they appear helpful and good but it’s self-sabotage city all the way!)


Do you have an Inner:

Achievement Junkie 

The Achievement Junkie is the pushy, relentless force that drives you hard to get to a goal you will never reach because the finish line just keeps moving. Her job is to keep you addicted to pursuing goals, by fooling you into believing that there is a magical destination that will indicate you have finally arrived, where you can rest, stop working so hard, and be enough. She makes you exhaust yourself and robs you of receiving the success and happiness from all your hard work.


Comparison Queen

The Comparison Queen is your inner judge who assesses the success of your life by comparing you to other people or to where she thinks you should be, or used to be, which in her eyes is never enough. She makes you feel like an inadequate failure or like you are falling behind and not measuring up.


Good Girl 

The Good Girl is an inner people pleaser who is desperately afraid that no one will like her or love her if she doesn’t do what people expect of her or if she doesn’t give to others before she takes care of herself. She makes you give more time, money, and energy than you have to give and she stifles your true feelings and emotions. She sacrifices your happiness and needs to take care of others, and then makes you feel resentful and angry about it later.



The Worrywart is the professional worrier and runner of worst-case scenarios, who loves to fill your mind with all the bad things that could happen. Her job is to keep you living in a heightened state of fear and anxiety. She makes you feel unsafe, unsure, and uncertain, filling your head with crazy thoughts making you anxious, upset, or scared.


Now that we’ve begun outing your Inner Mean Girl, your next step is to start noticing when she shows up and tries to hijack your mind, body and reactions. Instead of being a victim to the negative self-talk or the fear producing feelings or the sabotaging reactions, or thinking that this is just who you are and how you work, stop and realize that you are under Inner Mean Girl Attack. Inner Mean Girls show up most in times of stress, uncertainty and fear, and when you are stretching yourself or feeling vulnerable.


As you become more aware of your Inner Mean Girl and her tricks and triggers you’ll begin to become an observer of, rather than a victim of her. And that’s the beginning of shifting your inner reality from one in which you are a bully to yourself, to one in which you are a best friend.


Christine Arylo and Amy Ahlers are the best-selling co-authors of Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself & Start Loving Yourself. ( To find out what kind of Inner Mean Girl is sabotaging you take the free and fun Inner Mean Girl quiz at


Release Your Fears About What “Everybody” Thinks & Fulfill Your Purpose

Release Your Fears About What “Everybody” Thinks & Fulfill Your Purpose

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Here’s my photo of Dr. Lissa Rankin & Tosha Silver, presenting for the book launch of The Fear Cure. They are so beautifull!

Lissa and Tosha

Release Your Fears About What “Everybody” Thinks & Fulfill Your Purpose 

By Dr. Lissa Rankin

When I met SARK five years ago, she had just appeared on a morning TV show to promote her new book, and as she was getting into her car, her inner critics started lambasting her about what a crappy job she had done, beating her up about how she wasn’t good enough, shaming her for her poor performance.  Now most people would just sit in their car, getting sucked into the vortex of a shame spiral as the inner critics got louder and made up more vicious stories. But not SARK! She saw a police officer sitting in his squad car on the other side of the parking lot, so pushing any fear to the side, she approached him and asked if he could help her.

“Depends on what it is,” he replied. To which SARK said, “Good boundaries.”

SARK explained that she was in the midst of getting attacked by a band of her inner critics and wondered if he would mind arresting them and carting them off to jail. He thought about it a minute, clearly wondering whether she was pulling his leg or belonged in a straitjacket. But noting her earnestness (and irresistible cuteness, of course), he decided to take a risk. He laughed and said: “Sure I can. I know about inner critics!”

Then he did a brave, kind thing. He opened the squad car door, escorted the inner critics into the back seat, and squealed off with sirens blaring. SARK felt a deep inner peace, knowing that her inner critics had been reassigned somewhere safer than her own mind.

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Can you imagine how healing that must have been to her scared Small Self, the one that had just gotten beaten up by the inner critics?

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When SARK told me this story, I thought, “OMG, this is the bravest woman I’ve ever met.”  Not only was she brave enough to question the critics in her mind rather than taking their attack at face value. She was actually brave enough to bypass being afraid of what someone might think so she could ask a cop to help her take action!

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I learned a crucial lessons from this story, and it wound up becoming fodder for my new book The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage As Medicine For The Body, Mind & Soul. I also interviewed hundreds of other brave individuals to pick their brains, hearts, and bodies in order to cull from their wisdom what it means to let fear transform you so your natural courage can shine through.

The book includes all the scientific data proving that fear isn’t just an uncomfortable emotion that holds us back from following our purpose; it’s also a significant risk factor for heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, chronic pain conditions, and even the common cold. As a doctor, this epiphany about the link between fear and physical health led me down a wild rabbit hole that led me to birth this book about how fear can cure YOU if you’re willing to let it be your friend, pointing to all the areas in your life still in need of healing.

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In addition to many other things, I learned one critical lesson from SARK’s story.

THE LESSON: Stop Fearing What “Everybody” Thinks

Instead of worrying about what “everybody” will think if we do something brave, try this exercise, excerpted from The Fear Cure.


1. Name your current Everybody. List the names of all the people whose judgment or approval you’re thinking of when you worry about what Everybody will think.

2. Notice whether these people model qualities you wish to emulate. Are they kind? Filled with integrity? Compassionate? Brave? Don’t judge these people, but do ask yourself whether you really value their opinions.

3. Choose your ideal Everybody. Perhaps some of the people in your current Everybody are there because you value and respect their counsel. If so, keep them! But if these people limit you more than they facilitate your growth, you can choose a brand-new Everybody. The good news is that you don’t even have to know these people personally. For that matter, they don’t even have to be alive.

You can call upon the wisdom of others, living or dead, whether you know them in the flesh or not. These may be real people who love and support you and have your best interests at heart. They may be authors who have written inspiring books, spiritual teachers living or dead, or even angels or deities. Choose six people who unconditionally encourage you and help you feel more brave.

4. Consult your new Everybody regularly. Ask for advice in meditation, in writing, in prayer, or in person whenever you need genuinely helpful guidance.

My Dare For You

What one thing would you do right now if you weren’t afraid what everybody thinks?

We’re all much braver than we’ve been conditioned to believe we are. Underneath the patterns and programs you inherited from your parents and our culture, you are SO courageous. So show us how big your brave is!

If you need help boosting your natural inborn courage, I created 5 courage-cultivating guided meditations with my musician friend Karen Drucker and included them in the Prescription For Courage Kit than you can download for free at as our gift to you. And if that doesn’t do the trick, there are 27 Courage-Cultivating practices in The Fear Cure intended to support your journey.

When you take the brave steps towards truly embodying your natural divinity, you not only pave the way for greater health in your body, your relationships, your work, your creativity, and your finances. You also make yourself available to be part of the gathering tribe shifting the consciousness of this planet so we can reclaim our rightful role as caretakers of Mother Gaia.

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Part Two: A Mighty Woman Soaring On

Part Two: A Mighty Woman Soaring On

Maya flowerDear Radiant Soul,

I’ve been writing about some of my personal experiences being mentored by Dr. Maya Angelou.

You can read that post here. I’ve loved your comments and reflections and so appreciate reading them.

In this post, I’m going to share what happened when I went to do a national TV show in Canada.

I arrived at the TV studio with my friend Adrienne, who was acting as my assistant for this occasion. There were 2 dressing room doors- one said SARK on it, and the other said Dr. Maya Angelou. It felt like such a fantasy.

Adrienne immediately said, “Oh good, let’s have you meet Maya!”

Almost instantly, my inner 13 year old appeared. I felt myself contort into the same body language I remember from that awkward time in my life, and I said, “No, she probably won’t remember me….” And I began trying to scurry away.

Adrienne spotted Dr. Angelou’s assistant- an officious looking man in a khaki suit, holding a clipboard. She went right over to him and said,

“SARK would like to meet Dr. Angelou.”

I felt mortified.

He looked down at his clipboard, mumbled something as he opened the door to her dressing room.

The next thing I heard was him saying, “Dr. Angelou? There’s a SERK here to see you.”

Now I really felt mortified- by mispronouncing my name, I felt SURE that she would never remember me.

I then heard Maya’s distinctive voice saying loudly,
“SARK? SARK is here? Where is she? I want to meet that woman!”

She came roaring out of that dressing room and came right over to me, scooped me up and stuffed me right under her armpit, while simultaneously rubbing the top of my head, saying, “You smartie patootie! You smartie patootie!”

I couldn’t believe it was happening. I’m fairly tall, and I felt diminutive in her exuberant embrace.

It was so much the opposite of what my inner 13 year old feared, that I just started laughing and relaxed into it. There even was a moment when I felt the tiniest bit afraid that she wasn’t going to let me go!

When she did let me go, she looked into my eyes and said,
“GOOD for you. Good for you. You should come over to my house for fried chicken.”

I then felt speechless again, and we went on to talk about the TV show and how we would each talk about being mentored, and people being mentored by each of us. She was gracious to Adrienne too, and what I remember most of all, was her presence.

My inner 13 year old even felt more relaxed, and I’ve since learned how to reparent that part of myself, along with all of the other “inside children.”

My memories of the show are a happy blur- somewhere I think I have a tape of it. If I locate it, I’ll see if I can find a way to share it.

I never did follow up on her offer to have fried chicken, but I did share my book Transformation Soup with her, and asked if she’d like to endorse it. Again, she called my answering machine and left a message saying,
“SARK? I’ve written a POEM for your book- I hope that you like it.” She then read me her poem in that remarkable voice of hers;

“I’m head over hills and over the moon.
No work of SARK can come too soon.
I’m laughing out loud, that’s what it took.
I hope everybody will buy this book.”

I saw Dr. Angelou several times after that when she visited San Francisco, and was able to join her for dinner one night with a large group after a booksigning. Of course I wish that there could have been more times with her- I always want more of something good.

In all of the comments and memorials I’ve read since she died, I’ve been most moved by the descriptions of her many kindnesses to all kinds of people. I feel blessed to be one of those people, and to share that blessing in every way that I possibly can.

SARK (aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)


A Mighty Woman Soaring On

A Mighty Woman Soaring On

I wrote the following on Wednesday May 28, 2014 soon after I found out that Dr. Maya Angelou had died.

I then wrote more below about how my life was woven with hers, and with all of ours.

MayaDr. Maya Angelou left our world today, and I can feel the seismic shift that her non physical presence is bringing.

As one of my mighty mentors and “sheroes,” I feel awed by her life, saddened by her physical absence, and profoundly connected to her spirit with grace, miracles and the certainty that we live on infinitely beyond death. I can feel Maya’s boisterous and mighty presence moving on, blessing us all. It’s not an accident that Angel is part of her name;-)


Dear Appreciator of Phenomenal Women, (and Men)

Dr. Maya Angelou first mentored me through the pages of her magnificent book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and I attended her book signing and talk at a local library when I was a young woman living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I then somehow got the courage to tell her privately (I had never told anyone) that I had been molested in my family, and she took my hands in her own and held them tightly and said to me intensely,

“You are ALRIGHT. You are alright.”

This fierce blessing shifted my soul and joined with my Inner Wise Self who also knew I really was alright- on the inside.

This knowledge carried me through long years of self-destructive behaviors and inner turbulence as I found my own inner “sheroe” and began truly living that way.

When I was ready to start publishing my memoirs, I wrote Succulent Wild Woman, and contacted Dr. Angelou for an endorsement, braving her gatekeepers who assured me that she didn’t have time.

I received a booming voicemail soon after from Dr. Angelou herself, saying she would be honored to provide an endorsement. Soon after, she spoke this endorsement into my voicemail in her distinctive voice,

“We, in this world, and this weary old world itself, have a great gaping need for SARK. Let’s call for more and more SARK to fill every child’s book bag and each attaché case.”

After Succulent Wild Woman was released, I was invited to be on a national TV show in Canada, and asked to speak about how creativity and being creative had formed my life. The producer said they planned to have people in the audience who had felt mentored by me and my work.

The producer then called back and said that they wanted to include another guest on the show and would I be alright with that. When she told me that I’d be on the show with Dr. Maya Angelou, I said, “Just give her the show.”

But she said they really wanted both of us- me to talk about how I’d been mentored by Maya Angelou, and how I in turn had mentored others.

This sounded brilliant and I felt so excited and scared to do the show, and meet Dr. Angelou again so many years later.

I’ll write in the next installment about what happened before and after that show, including a significant appearance by my inner 13 year old 😉


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