Overcoming Our Inner Critic
Over the past week I have been struggling with a huge loss of confidence and an immense amount of insecurity. I’m not entirely sure why or where it came from, what I do know is that it has haunted me ruthlessly. I’ve had a monkey sitting on my shoulder day and night telling me that I am worthless, the work I am doing means nothing and is just not good enough and I might as well give it all up right now. Pretty harsh right? Yup, well these thoughts and words have been doing a loop round and round in my head every single day and it has been very challenging and ALMOST got the better of me.But it didn’t. I am still here. Thankfully.I’m very grateful that at this stage in my life, because I am so familiar with this monkey on my shoulder, my inner critic, because it has made an appearance in my life so many many (MANY) times, I have been able to have enough power and awareness around it to just watch it, observe it, let it do it’s rounds and push-ups in my head but knowing deep down that these messages are just not the truth.Knowing this has not stopped it from affecting me.. I have felt lost, confused and terrified with literally every step and action I’ve taken this week. But….. regardless….. I kept taking the actions.Our inner critic… you know it right? We’ve all got one.I’ve got good news for you and bad news…… let me start with the bad and get it over with already! I don’t believe there is a single thing that will ever eradicate this critical voice permanently. There isn’t a perfect diet, or the most amazing course, or the perfect self-help book – trust me, I’ve pretty much done them all! All these things are most likely able to put it on pause for a period of time and give us some relief from it but at some point or other, if you are a human being, which I’m sure most of you who are reading this are, this inner critic is likely to return. Boooooooo ):For some it may be stronger and for all of us the particular messages that it tells us will be different. What my inner critic tells me I’m sure is not the same as what yours tells you. But nonetheless, whatever the messages are, whatever the noise, it still comes and it could really get the better of us.If we let it. But thankfully we don’t have to.Now…. on to the much needed good news!!! Phew! Having rightfully managed your expectations, I now want to tell you this ….. that even though it comes, even though we may never eradicate it for good, we DO NOT NEED TO MAKE IT MEAN ANYTHING!!! Yup, that’s right! That simple! We don’t need to make it mean anything! It’s just a voice, that’s all. That comes and goes and comes and goes. It is not the truth, it is not who we are, it does not need to mean anything!!More often then not, when things happen that aren’t the most pleasant, when we make mistakes, or eat too much, or put on weight, or say the wrong thing, or lose followers on instagram, or have this loud negative voice blasting out in our heads, the biggest most damaging problem is when we make it mean something about who we are. We use these things to make it mean we are not good enough, we are failures, we are fat, we are unloveable, etc etc blah blah blah. And this is what causes the damage – then we really do start to shrink. Then we may even start attracting more things in our lives to back up these ideas and beliefs. Then it can really start to become something real.But what if we made mistakes, put on weight, ate too much one day, lost instagram followers, had a loud negative voice in our head and we decided that it didn’t mean anything at all? In fact it was so meaningless that we didn’t even have to give it any attention. It just comes and goes, comes and goes, and we make it mean NOTHING.Now It may sound crazy, or even too simple to be worth anything, but I can promise you that this very simple piece of information can provide such a beautiful sense of freedom.Literally, my week went like this – noise noise noise, horrible horrible voices, oh I’m going to get up and do some exercise, then I’m going to meditate for 20min. Noise noise noise, horrible horrible horrible, a small emotional melt down, now I’m going to have a delicious smoothie and set up a few meetings. Noise noise noise, horrible horrible horrible, I tell my husband everything that is going on in my head and ask for a hug, get a hug, carry on with my day.It took a week. A week of not making it mean anything and taking actions that were really really loving to myself. Taking actions that were going to nourish myself, my heart and my soul. It took a week and the noise has stopped. I feel like me again. And I didn’t make it mean anything. And I didn’t react to it. And it didn’t dictate any part of my life. It took a week and now it’s passed.For those of you that struggle with an inner critic, that wants to get the better of you and wants to make you shrink and hide away and stop you from taking risks and following your heart, I am writing this post for you. You are not alone. In fact, I think if we were all really honest, we could all admit that we ALL feel this way at some point or other. So in fact, we are all in this together!Here are some tools that I use that really serve me during times like this. To help me stay present in myself. To help me stay in my heart, stay loving and detached from the negative inner critical noise. So that it may come and go without doing much harm.I hope you find them useful too:
1. FAKE IT TO MAKE IT!!!
Yup, literally as it says on the box! Whilst this negativity is going on, and we know it is likely to pass but we just don’t know when, We can take actions that are the complete opposite to what the noise is telling us! For me, these actions were ones of real self-care. Actions that are telling me that I love myself and that I am worthwhile.
- Exercise – I have been doing at least 30min of exercise daily during this phase and it has really been nourishing. Running, interval training, dancing, yoga, walking, stretching. Such a great way to keep the energy flowing, help us stay in our body and to nourish our physical body. And so great for building positive feeling and feelings of self-esteem. It is commonly known that exercise and getting our heart rate up regularly releases endorphins through the body making us feel more positive and better about ourselves.
- Diet – Eat good food and eat well. Good ingredients, fresh ingredients, free of chemicals, free of refined and processed foods. Good, fresh, yummy food. More than ever, treat yourself like a king or queen during this time. In particular, I have been following my ‘Make Space’ January Cleanse which has been helping me feel even better about myself. You can follow it too by clicking here.
- Cooking – Home cooking. Lots of home cooking. Cooking from scratch. Regularly, daily even if you can. It doesn’t need to be gourmet, it doesn’t need to be gastronomical – just simple, beautiful nourishing home cooking. It is the act of cooking that will nourish you. Ground you. Get the energy flowing through your body and your heart.
2. Spend time in Nature!
There is something about being in nature, something grounding, something that helps us feel more connected to something bigger. Even for the most hard and fast atheists, spending time in nature is nourishing and helps us to connect to a little magic, peace and love. Go for a good regular stomp in nature during your negative thinking phase, walk through the mud, jump in a muddy puddle, dare I say it even hug a tree. Try it! Do it! It will help. It is like medicine!
This is such a powerful one for me – my husband and I set an intention this year that we were going to complain less and focus more on what we were grateful for. And during this week of negative voices in my head I woke up each morning and as soon as I was conscious I listed 10 thing that I was grateful for. And at the end of the day I listed 3 things that I was thankful for that happened that day. It was and is such a wonderful tool. And really left me feeling so nourished and positive.
4. Share with a friend or loved one
I definitely found it helpful to tell a few people I loved and trusted what was going on for me. In fact I told my husband and I shared with my homeopath. Both listened and were really loving and supportive back. It helped so much to feel supported and not alone with it. It also helped to hear them tell me positive things about myself just when I really needed to hear it.
5. Sitting or Meditation Daily
I prefer to use the word ‘sitting’ as as soon as I use the word meditation I start to think I need to try and do something or achieve something. But when I think I just need to sit, then I feel like that’s all I need to do. And it is all I need to do! Just sit, quietly, with my eyes closes of dazed over, with my breath, with my body, with myself and whatever is going on in it. Breathing in and out normally without trying to do or achieve anything. Do this daily for 10-20min. It will do wonders! Wonders for creating more space within yourself, connecting you to your heart, grounding you in your body and help you feel nourished and loved by a bigger force that is taking care of you!
Last but certainly not least, accepting that this is where we are right now, is so important. Non-judgement of where we are, it is just where we are and it too will pass. Doing all the things above were acts to love myself, but I was not doing them to try and stop the voices. I was doing them to love myself and at the same time I trusted that eventually the voices would pass. Acceptance, don’t judge, don’t make it mean anything!At the end of the day, EVERYTHING that we think or feel will pass. It will come and then it will go. As long as we just let it come and go without making it mean anything or reacting to it then it will come and go, almost unnoticed. This is simple, but not necessarily easy. With practice it will get easier! I promise!The most important thing here is to stay loving, even if we may not be thinking lovingly, we can still act and be loving. To ourselves. It’s important.I hope that you have found this post useful. As always, it has been extremely useful for me.Sending you all so much love and wishing you all a magical week.Love Nx