What was I thinking?
When was the last time you felt that pull to do more, discover what’s inside of you, write more freely and signed up for a course, program, or new job only to start and think:
- What was I thinking?
- Now what did I do?
- I can’t do this?
- Everyone’s better than me, ahead of me, smarter than me, or has it all together
- How dare I think this was okay, I’m just going to fail – again.
- Been here, done that…It’ll never work…
Do you know there’s are a reason for these reactions – and that most people experience them? It’s true.
Meet your inner Saboteur, the Inner Critic – that voice in the way back of you mind, hiding in the shadows with a voice as soft as a whisper or as loud as a bull horn screaming at you “Stay in your place! It’s not safe to be seen, heard, or express yourself.”
STOP! It’s time to let yourself come out of hiding, out from behind the curtain of how you were socialized into being the “good girl” or “strong boy”. It’s time to discover the Inner Diva, the Brave Warrior who protects the innocent – even when that innocent is your precious, soul-self.
Five Steps to make friends with the Inner Critic
1. BREATHE: stop the frenetic pace of texting, keying, tweeting, scrolling, watching tv, multi-tasking until your eyes are red and – just breathe. That’s it – take a breath. Now, a bigger breath, pull that air deep into your belly, Exhale with a big ‘Ha’. Breathe again…and again. Feel your ribs expand, the air rush from the lower belly up your chest and out. Pull big draughts of air deep moving your abdominal muscles, massaging your internal organs. Pause a second or two between the inner and outer breath to oxygenate the blood, let that fresh oxygen nourish your brain, heart, legs, and toes – every cell of your body.
2. ATTENTION! Now become aware of how it feels to sit, stand, or lie down – wherever position you are in is fine. What do you notice? Are there sounds? Smells? What is the temperature you are submerged in? Come into your body and notice how it feels….is there tension? Aches or pain? Are you feeling comfortable, loose, warm or at ease?
3. TUNE IN: Continue breathing easily and notice the thoughts in your head…are they judgments against you? Negative criticisms? Who does this come from…is it your mother, father, relative, teacher, religious authority, boss? Do you hear a voice inside you cheering you on, high-fiving your efforts, your doing a task, learning a new skill? Are you making mistakes in life – or just stretching to grow with learning experiences along the way?
Consider if you think it’s bad to make mistakes as an adult…Why? How would you know how to do something you don’t know how to do? Observe a young child or toddler – they practice over and over manipulating blocks, reading the same story, practicing muscle movements making many attempts until they gain mastery. You don’t see them berating their process to grow and become better. What would you be capable of…if you allowed yourself more compassion, cheerleading, and released criticism? After all, you signed up for the new course, program, job for a reason – because you wanted the benefits of it.
4. QUESTION: For each negative thought you become aware of, ask if it’s true or not. Are you really lazy, stupid, an idiot, or foolish? Or are you overwhelmed, unskilled (at this moment), and doing your best? “I’m trying!”….usually spoken with utter frustration is different than really seeing just how hard you are working to grow and develop.
Talk back to the Inner Saboteur!
Thank the Inner Critic for trying to protect you from embarrassment, shame, or “failure.” Inform the Saboteur that the old way of being just isn’t working for you anymore. Tell the Protector “I am the adult now and can handle this. It’s okay – I’ve got skills and tools.”
Affirm “It’s okay if I don’t know how to do this immediately. I can give myself credit for taking on increased responsibilities. It’s an adventure and I’m going for it!”
If you need help with this process then Call Denise to chat about coaching so that you’re not battling yourself in your mind. Integrate your shadows, judgments, and critics to amplify your strengths.
5. CELEBRATE: Honor your Doing. Can you honor your self, your efforts at taking on this challenge? Is there a way you can reinforce the positive of answering the call to be more, do more, and have more in your life? CELEBRATE milestones along the path instead of only celebrating major achievements. By honoring incremental steps you train your brain with good chemicals of dopamine and endorphins which increase your positive mood and build momentum. Once you face your fears the Saboteur is protecting you from to get unstuck and take actions to change, you build up momentum and accelerate your successes, just like a ball at rest which needs effort to start, but then has the power to impact others with energy and passion.
Your Saboteur can be your friend when you understand why it does what it does. Gain clarity, control, and connection to your Inner Saboteur and stop battling – it’s exhausting. Life’s supposed to be more fun and you deserve it.