So many people use energy BEATING themselves up in their minds. Somewhere along the life journey, we learned to constantly criticize and harass ourselves inside. We internalized the voice of judgment we heard from the people around us and unknowingly started to give the voice of the Inner Critic free reign.
We can transform our minds. Self-criticism is just a mental habit–and it can be changed with awareness and then with regular inner work. It’s been amazing to me just how much better I feel now that I’ve learned to put my Inner Critic in check and replace that voice with a kinder voice of self-compassion.
Here’s the truth about what I used to do to myself.
I had a VERY strong inner critic when I started this process of transforming my mind 17 years ago. Here is what my mean critic told me all throughout the day: You are not a good enough wife and mom. You are not far enough along. You must work harder, push more, be better than you are. You don’t take enough time for your kids. You aren’t performing high enough. (On and on and on. It focused on everything WRONG with me. As I saw how much I beat myself up, I realized how I was being my own worst enemy. I realized that I would never talk to another human being the way I was talking to myself.
I saw that when I focused on those thoughts I felt depressed, distraught, and constantly drained physically, emotionally, and mentally. Then, when drained I’d hesitate on taking action on my bigger goals and dreams. I’d question myself in the workplace and play small in moments where I could have stepped up. I decided I was tired of creating my own suffering. And, I found a new approach.
I began asking myself new questions:
What’s RIGHT With me?
What can I give myself some credit for?
What’s GOOD with me?
I found this: I was working tremendously hard — day in and day out, to be my best at work and at home. I had found a way to care for my child with special needs, get to her appointments WHILE holding down a high-powered corporate position. I was giving my all constantly and trying my best to be a good wife, mom, and professional. I was caring. I was kind at work and went the extra mile for people on my team.
When I looked for the good in myself, I found it. What we focus on is what we find proof for. What our minds think becomes our reality. If you think you are awful, you’ll be able to find plenty of proof. If you think you are doing your best and a rock star, you’ll be able to search and find proof for that too. (And, if you are truly stuck and you can’t find any good in yourself, please seek out the support of a coach or a therapist who can help guide you to new perspectives.)
I want to offer you an exercise for today. Take 15 minutes today. Write down some of your thoughts of self-Judgment. See the inner critic’s voice on paper. Then, for each of those harsh thoughts you have about yourself take time to make a shift. Transform each thought of criticism into a thought of compassion.
Ask, What’s Good with me? If you were being your own Best Friend, what kind, caring and compassionate thoughts can you think of yourself? Then, based on those thoughts you come up with, think about how would you feel if you focused on being KIND to yourself? Would you feel better? Have more energy? What might happen in your life? Here is what happened to me. As I started to see the good in myself, I had more energy. I felt better each day physically and mentally and emotionally. I had the ability to take the next steps in being the person I wanted to be in the world. As I was kinder to myself, I was more able to be kind to others.
It was a gradual process of re-training my mind. Of remembering my new thoughts of self-kindness and then practicing them over and over until they felt natural and became my new habit.
THIS WORK IS POWERFUL. DO IT.
Let’s go friends.
Give it a try.
Just do your best.
You are welcome to drop your new thoughts here. Or, to ask questions if you need me to clarify anything. We each have an Inner Critic so there is no need to feel ashamed or like you are alone. We can each learn to take back the power we have to use our mind as a TOOL rather than having our mind be our master. Reach out for support if you need it. Amazing things come about when you do the inner work!
I've been working with business and government leaders for 20+ years as a Senior Executive Coach (PCC, ICF) and Leadership Development and Positive Psychology Consultant. I help leaders apply positive psychology to awaken to their highest potential and leave a lasting positive impact in their own unique way. Learn More
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