BlogInner Peace for Challenging Times

When You Hate What You Did

By in Blog, Inner Peace for Challenging Times

Lately I’ve had a little more time at home than usual, and I’ve been doing some research into my own life. Reading old journals, looking at old photos… And it’s bringing me a good feeling. But reading old journals doesn’t always give us an uplifting feeling. Sometimes it feels more like there’s a dragon waiting in there to rip our heads off!

That’s what happened to my student Phoebe. She was re-reading some old journals, reliving an earlier time in her life, and suddenly she felt her whole body rigid with tension. In fact, her stomach was so tight that she felt almost nauseated.

She felt like pushing the journal away from her. It was like some part of her just wanted to push away that whole time in her life.

In the old days, Phoebe might have walked around for days with a tense stomach, and it might have turned into a headache as well. But drawing on what she’d learned from me, Phoebe did something different this time.

In this episode of Inner Peace for Challenging Times, you’ll hear how Phoebe was able to turn her experience of stress and tension into an opportunity to find a greater sense of inner peace.

Watch Here

So what did Phoebe do differently? She paused… She noticed what had happened. SOMETHING in the journal had triggered this reaction. At first she didn’t even know what… but that was OK. She didn’t have to know what it was, in order to acknowledge that SOMETHING had happened.


And then it became clear. She was reading about a time in the past when she did some things she wasn’t proud of. She hadn’t done a very good job of living by her own values. Something in her was feeling shame and utter rejection of her former actions.

Phoebe acknowledged this part of her — that she could feel so strongly in her stomach — using those words “Something in me.”

“Something in me is feeling ashamed and rejecting my actions back then. And it’s worried I might do something like that again.”

Do you see what’s going on? Rather than being at the mercy of her tight stomach and nauseated feelings, Phoebe turned toward that part of her and acknowledged it. That allowed her to dialogue with it, and learn more what was bothering this part of her so much.

It was worried she would be crushed, annihilated, and destroyed if she ever did those things again. Wow, strong language! But that’s how this part of her felt. And if it was afraid she might be crushed, annihilated, and destroyed, then no wonder it had such a tight grip on her stomach!

That’s actually what Phoebe said to it.

“No wonder you’re feeling so tight if that’s what you’re worried about.”

And here’s the cool thing. When Phoebe did that, she could feel her tight stomach begin to relax. She could feel that gripping, tense part of her beginning to calm down.

Why did it calm down? The past hadn’t changed. The things Phoebe did in the past had still been done. The tense gripping part calmed down because Phoebe was hearing it. Hearing its worries and fears. Not telling this part of her that it had nothing to worry about. No, she was validating it. Saying to it “No wonder” it was worried.

Phoebe stayed with this part of her for a long time… about half an hour. Really hearing its fears and hearing what it never wanted her to have to go through again. Her whole body relaxed even more. The whole process brought quite a sense of peace and calm.

You know, this is called inner relationship: when you can treat a part of yourself as having its own reasons and its own purpose, and you can let it know you hear it and that it makes sense.

And then you can feel in your body the difference that makes. There’s no validation better than that!

Do you want more of my tips for calm in the midst of stress? Get my free e-course, Get Bigger Than What’s Bugging You. In five simple lessons, you’re well on your way to responding differently to the triggers of life.

Here’s to you… having a more peaceful life!



  1. diane baumgart 3 years ago

    Ann, this is so timely and needed. guess I am not the only one reading old journals and cringing not only at what I did ( and hating it) but also realizing if is like a ghost that ruins the party of my life.
    It is an excellent video for all the the above the the gorgeous background behind you and you standing and moving as you discuss what I call moving on. It really works.

    And I wonder how many secrets have been told in journals, how much hurt and pain is buried there that can finally be acknowledged with compassion in the here and now?
    Maybe this can be somehow expanded t)o those, like me, with the shane and regret from events and secrets held) into a process, a ritual, to say hello to the pain and hurt and worry, thank you for the gifts that came ( for me anyway) and good-bye to the old loving parts and welcome to the fresh start with all that.
    Well, I am writing all this because Looking back and looking forward brought so much up for me and I am processing and creating or needing a ritual to find the bottom of he grief where it can be supported, especially secrets, family secrets.

    • Author
      Ann Weiser Cornell 3 years ago

      Diane, thank you! I had not realized this was such a powerful topic. “Embracing Our Past Selves” is important!

  2. Corinne 3 years ago

    Thanks Ann for that Video. That’s my issue, I have two big boxes of old journals. I brought them from the cellar into my flat in order to make me go through them – and I haven’t yet done for years, People in my life say: Just throw them away…. But I guess there are precious things in those journals I haven’t revealed yet. Every time I made an attempt to read through them I got overwhelmed. With IRF I know what to do when something triggers and still it’s a challenge. Some days ago I made a new attempt and I realized a change. I noticed that I (I mean different Somethings in me) get triggered mostly from one certain period of my life when I felt delivered and helpless. This is already a relief.
    So my big project ist to go through this period again and take the time to be present with all the parts with their strong emotions and beliefs.. I guess when living in those times I rationalized or dissociated a lot and I was not able to be really present with all the difficult sensations, feelings and emotions back then. It may be possible now with all the tools of IRF and a grown Self-In-Presence.. And something in me is already panicking while writing this 😉

    • Author
      Ann Weiser Cornell 3 years ago

      Corinne, I really hear this is a central issue for you! And how good that by turning toward it, you discovered it was not all of your past, but one certain period of your life. That sounds like a big step. AND something in you is panicking as you write this. It sounds like it could use some caring attention… 🙂

  3. Patsy 3 years ago

    I liked the video for many reasons including the value of being present, honest, and loving to all the different parts of my inner self. The words “something in me” creates a space for acknowledging and caring for these hurting and sometimes joyful parts. Thank you.

    • Author
      Ann Weiser Cornell 3 years ago

      Patsy, thank you for your comment! I’m so glad you could feel how the words “something in me” create a space for acknowledging and caring for what we feel. Lovely!

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