Sue Patton Thoele is the author of numerous books including The Courage to Be Yourself, Strength: Meditations for Wisdom, Balance, & Power, The Courage to Be a Stepmom, and The Woman’s Book of Courage.
She is a mom, stepmom, grandmother, wife, and retired psychotherapist and women’s group leader.
Sue loves playing with words, swimming with wild dolphins, and hanging out with friends and family, both two footed and four footed.
You’ve got quite a few motivational publications under your belt, including The Woman’s Book of Courage and The Mindful Woman, centered around women’s mental and emotional health and empowerment. What inspired you to start your writing journey?
I was a therapist in private practice and noticed that all the women I worked with—including myself—struggled with being themselves. We all seemed to have deep seated fears about alienating others and, as a result, being rejected, looked down upon, or shunned. After one group session, I said to my friend and co-facilitator, “It seems like we all struggle to have the courage to be ourselves!” The Muse took hold of me and would not let me go until I finished my first book entitled The Courage to Be Yourself.
Is there a particular reader who would benefit most from your work or that you are hoping to reach?
All women, really. Well, all women who are interested in understanding themselves better, healing their wounds, and finding their own unique purpose and sense of empowerment.
In The Woman’s Book of Courage, you frequently talk about recognizing and nurturing your “inner child.” What do you think is one of the most important things we can learn from that inner child?
That we are loved, loveable, and worthy of being seen, heard, and held.
As a writer, you have probably experienced your fair share of rejections. How do you put your own advice into practice in the face of rejection?
Rejection is my biggest fear, so it is never easy for me to move from being crushed by it to accepting the experience and learning from it. Just answering this question is causing a reaction in my body; my eyes are misty, my throat is closing, and I’m noticing the need to be very gentle with myself—and, it seems, interminably—accepting of the fact that even the idea rejection is (and may always be) a huge trigger for me. I use a practice created in The Courage to Be Yourself. I call it The 3 A’s. In a nutshell, they are:
Awareness: Become aware of your feelings. Inner awareness is the beginning of outer change.
Acknowledge: Without judgment, absorb what you’ve become aware of and tell a trusted friend or counselor about your awareness.
Accept: Honor where you are and what you’re feeling. Be gentle with yourself. You are okay just as you are, even as you seek to grow and heal.
Do you ever find yourself incorporating affirmations into your writing process?
Absolutely. Most of us have a little (sometimes huge) “devil” on our shoulder who loves to chant litanies such as, “What do you think you’re doing?” or something along the lines of “What makes you think you have anything to say that anyone else will want to hear, let alone gain anything from?” To me, affirmations are a way of reframing what the scared part of me is afraid of and verbalizing its angst. Affirmations help me transform energy in my own psyche and, therefore, the energy I put out into the world. It always helps if I sing my affirmations.
You emphasize the importance of exercising your right to say no without feeling guilty and avoiding overstepping your limits. In your experience as a psychotherapist, do you find that our busybody culture has made this form of self care particularly difficult for the modern woman?
Oh, yeah!!! We are definitely swimming upstream and against the current in terms of saying No and sticking with limits and boundaries!
On a personal note, how have you been taking care of yourself and practicing courage in these difficult, chaotic times?
Well, I got a puppy. Not that sleepless nights, piddle puddles, and inappropriate gnawing always feel very self-caring, I gotta admit! 😂 But, in a way, it goes back to boundaries and saying no—or in this case “Yes”—to an unpopular decision. My heart yearned for a dog but, because of Covid, I simply could not find a small adult dog to adopt. I knew getting a puppy was an iffy decision given my age and my husband’s (huge understatement coming here) hesitancy to have the responsibility and demands of a baby—being in our supposedly golden years. After experiencing a brush with mortality, I realized my heart’s yearning was worth taking the risk.
On a more practical side, I’m caring for myself by honoring my idiosyncrasies, such as the need for silence and alone time, and staying as far away from media—social and otherwise—as I can. I also keep in close touch with authentic and uplifting people. But, really, all of us have had, and will probably continue to have, ups and downs as well as times that seem inside-out and just plain wrong! This is an Alice in Wonderland time we’re all experiencing. A time that will birth a better world, I’m hoping…
But, mainly, I take care of myself best when I can love myself as well and consistently as I do dear friends or my kids. Those inner kids of ours, as well as our mature selves, always need and deserve our love.
Rapid Fire Questions:
Last book read?
A cozy English mystery.
Favorite self-care activity?
Coffee or tea:
Zing tea with blueberry… and sips of Mexican coke.
A woman you look up to?
Almost every one I meet!
Type or hand write?
Gentle Practices for Restoring Calm, Finding Hope, and Opening Your Heart
Life moves fast. As women, we wear various hats in our lives. Oftentimes, we forget to stop and take a deep breath to center ourselves. Author and champion of women, Sue Patton Thoele, shows you how to incorporate mindfulness into your busy and dynamic life. Learn to take control of your peace and discover how to maintain a clear head amid the chaos while keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
The Mindful Woman is a friend whose hand you can hold on the path toward being present in the moment. Finding your way will lead naturally to a more open heart, inner peace, and greater zest for life. This guide will be with you every step of the way and offers you:
- Sixty-five simple and effective mindfulness activities
- Stories from real women who provide inspiration
- Lessons on healing and connecting with your innermost self
Theole uses a gentle and humorous approach that makes The Mindful Woman a practical and easily understood guide for those who are new to the practice of mindfulness and those who are already familiar with its gifts. Even the busiest of women among us can embrace mindfulness and reap the benefits.
Meditations for Listening, Living, and Loving
Women Empowerment. The Woman’s Book of Courage is a little book with a big message. We can take charge of our lives, stop trying to please other people all the time, and live happily with ourselves and others―right now. In more than a hundred short entries, author and psychotherapist Sue Patton Thoele offers meditations, affirmations, and true stories, including deeply personal, often humorous, revelatory stories of her own sometimes rocky path of personal growth.