How to Combat Your Inner Critic in 4 Steps

It’s true what they say. We’re our own worst enemies. Unless, of course, you’ve done something to create actual enemies, most of us are simply battling the self-sabotaging voice in our heads.

Especially when it comes to being creative, that’s when your inner critic can be the most powerful.

 

Too many people succumb to that nagging voice and never create–never write that book or start that business or take that art class. You don’t want to be one of those people.

Each of us has something to share, and you deserve to let your gifts free into the world. From my own experience, I’ve come up with 4 steps to combat your inner critic.

Step 1

Forget the Endgame

Sometimes we stop creating before we even start because we don’t know what the end product will look like or what’s going to happen.

Well, hello fuzzy! We never know what’s going to happen! That doesn’t stop us from living each day.

Any time anyone starts a creative project, they don’t really know what they will have made in the end. Sure, artists have ideas and visions and plans, but things change along the way.

The key is to be curious.

Be curious about what you’re making. Let it come out of you and be excited to discover it. You aren’t meant to control what is born. You are meant to give birth to it and enjoy it.

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Step 2

Trust the Spark

When you feel the spark of inspiration, trust that it is yours for a reason and let it guide you to your path.

Your inner critic will love to tell you that your idea is stupid, that it will never work, that you are stupid. But you know better. Inspiration comes from something bigger than ourselves.

The point isn’t necessarily the object of the inspiration, but rather the fact that you are inspired.

If you get an idea for a novel, you don’t have to quit your job and dedicate your whole life to writing this book that you hope will turn into a bestseller and change your life forever….

The spark is meant to move you to set your foot on a path. Trusting the spark is about putting one foot in front of the other. The way becomes clear as you walk it. 

So, take one step. Then take one more…

Step 3

Ask Yourself Your Questions

We all have questions. About everything from life, work, and relationships to the latest health trend and TV series. Whether we recognize them consciously or not, our questions are what drive a lot of our actions.

What am I supposed to do?
Why do we keep fighting?
Is Kado a real thing?
Why is it so fun to watch people buy tiny houses?

What we don’t usually realize is that we already have the answers to our questions, or at least the resources to find them. The problem is we tend to direct our big questions to our inner critics.

Your inner critic doesn’t want you to find peace because then it’s out of a job. So stop feeding the monster. Don’t ask your questions to the nagging voice in your head. Ask them to your heart.

How do you know which is which?

Your inner critic will always speak with negativity. If the answers you get sound bitter or angry or pitiful, then you know you’ve called the wrong number. Your heart, although it won’t always speak sunshine and rainbows, will give you useful answers.

After a conversation with your real self, you will feel better, comforted even. The truth is, you’re your own best friend. Your real self likes who you are and knows that you deserve the best life. Who else can you turn to if not your best friend?

Step 4

Write/Speak As If To Someone Else

Would you ever dream of speaking to another person the way you speak to yourself? Or rather, the way your inner critic speaks to you?

Do you find yourself able to give great advice and do nice things for other people, but not yourself?

If this sounds like you, then pretend it isn’t.

Take a look at your situation as if someone else was living it. Pretend you’re a friend whom you care about deeply. Write or speak the thoughts your inner critic is poisoning your mind with, then tell yourself exactly what you would tell someone you love.

What does your inner critic have to say about that, huh?

 

If you take away anything from this, let it be the joy of curiosity. Your inner critic thinks it knows everything. It wants to keep you in the same box, running on the same hamster wheel. The truth is, you don’t know everything, and you don’t really want to, because that would take the fun out of living.

Stay curious about your life and yourself. You are interesting and vibrant. Tell yourself that.

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3 Ways to Turn Self-Doubt into Self-Confidence

Self-doubt is a nasty booger. It might be your constant companion or just an occasional visitor, but either way, you don’t have time for it.

Self-doubt is a kind of trap. We often don’t even realize we’re caught in its snares until we’re in pretty deep. It starts innocently enough, with a feeling of being “put out” or “bummed out.” Then before you know it, self-doubt is infecting everything you say and every interaction you have.

If you’ve been dealt a blow or you’re struggling with self-esteem, I’ve got news for you: You are not supposed to stay down.

You are an awesome person with valuable skills and talents! You deserve to feel good about yourself.

That’s how you’ll find the opportunities you want. You never know what your opportunities will look like, but you definitely won’t see them clearly if you can’t even see yourself clearly.

So, if you’re sentences are falling off at the end, or if you’re making jokes about how terrible you are or how you’ve failed… Here are 3 things you can do to transform your self-doubt into self-confidence.

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1. Set a physical goal and achieve it.

Exercise is a fabulous confidence booster. No matter your level of fitness, there is a goal you can set for yourself and achieve.

Of course, if you’re brand new to exercise, don’t set an unrealistic goal. If you’ve never run more than a quarter-mile, don’t sign up for a marathon. Instead, download an app like Strava and promise yourself that you will be able to run a mile without stopping in a month (for example).

Apps are great for accountability and community. They give you positive reinforcement every time you work toward your goal.

Maybe running isn’t your thing. It’s certainly not for everybody–and no fitness regime is. Maybe you always wished you could the splits as a kid, or a headstand, or maybe you just want to be able to touch your toes! You can do it if you really want to work for it!

It will feel so good when you reach your goal, no matter how big or how small. There’s nothing quite like a physical goal for boosting self-confidence, because you achieve it through your connection with your body.

Your body is your vehicle for living. Knowing and working with your body will teach you a lot about who you are and what you’re meant to do.

 

2. Create Something

Don’t you dare say, “But I’m not creative…” because that’s just not true. We are all creative by nature. There’s something you can make that will make you feel more confident in yourself.

Your creation doesn’t have to sell. It doesn’t have to get hundreds or thousands of likes on social media. It just has to be genuinely yours.

Cook a meal. Write a poem. Make a scrapbook. Come up with a new game. Build a website or program. Edit photos. Design a t-shirt. Plant some herbs. Plan a trip. Heck, devise a budget! The possibilities for creation are endless!

What is something you would like to have in your life? Make it.

3. Thank yourself

Rather than wasting time criticizing yourself for what you aren’t, spend some time being grateful for what you are.

Thank yourself for making your bed in the morning. (Lord knows not everyone can.)

Thank yourself for driving safely to work.

Thank yourself for being good to the people you love.

Thank yourself for your each of your individual strengths.

Thank yourself for not having to be perfect.

Please don’t feel like you have to do this standing naked in front of a mirror. Just, throughout the day, think thoughts of gratitude for yourself. Everything you take for granted, someone else wishes they could do. Even the things you do because you’re “supposed to,” thank yourself for them.

You’ll be amazed by how quickly you will create good habits and traits just from this little trick.

 

Go on, give it a try! Pick one or do all three. Everyone deserves to live their lives with self-confidence. You can only be you, after all. Might as well feel good about it!

When We Feel Like Shutting Down Is When We Are Meant To Open Up

Every day, life presents us with opportunities to be free.

A lot of the time, though, we use these opportunities to lock ourselves up tighter.

We all experience signals from our bodies. We know the pain in our stomachs that tell us we need to eat. When we need to drink water, our mouths feel dry and maybe we get a headache. If we’ve stayed awake too long, our body tells us we need to sleep by slowing down, and maybe with nausea and eye twitches.

These signals are not pleasant. Our body gets our attention with discomfort and pain so that we will do what is good for us, what will ensure we maintain our health and carry on living.

But what about other signals?

What about when you feel a tight knot in the pit of your stomach when someone says something that triggers a painful memory?

What about when you feel a grip on your heart when you’re anticipating a difficult conversation with a loved one?

What about the lump in your throat when you have something to say?

What about the wall in your mind that won’t let you accept the validity of someone else’s opinion?

Like hunger, thirst, and exhaustion, these feelings signal a need. Yet we are often unwilling to fulfill these needs.

Instead, we label these feeling our issues or our baggage, and we shut down. To protect ourselves, we crawl inside ourselves and try to hide from the pain.

It never works though. Sooner or later, something triggers our issues and we get that signal again.

Life is constantly giving us opportunities to be free of our suffering. That’s what those signals really are.

We are meant to be healthy and carry on with our lives. When we say “No no no no no” to the lessons our body’s signals have to offer us, we put ourselves in a cage; we get stuck and we will continue spinning our wheels until we fulfill our need and move on.

The real issue isn’t our issues. We all know that everyone has their baggage. There’s only a problem when we believe that we aren’t meant to have our baggage.

Everything we have is ours for a reason. Our relationships and families, our faiths and cultures, our strengths and weaknesses, and even our issues and baggage.

It’s all part of our stories, our unique experiences of being a human. All of it is meant to push us on our individual paths. None of it is meant to shut us down. We do that of our own accord.

If we shut down when we experience that tightness in our gut, heart, throat, or mind, it is because we fear what will happen if we do what we need to do. We fear we will be rejected or abandoned. We fear we will fail. We fear we cannot handle what comes next.

We can’t control life. We can’t control other people’s responses. That’s not the point.


The point is, in life, we can either shut down or we can open up.

We can spin our wheels in a cage of our own making, or we can participate fully in life.

With every moment, life goes on. And we are meant to move on along with it.

No One Will Thank You for Being Who You Think They Want You to Be But Plenty of People Will Love You for Who You Are

We’re almost always wrong about the image of ourselves in other peoples’ heads.

I think that bears reiterating.

We don’t have a stinking clue how the people in our lives see us.

Yet we believe very strongly that we do. We look at the other halves of our relationships–our friends, parents, significant others, siblings, colleagues, etc…–and we form an image of them in our minds based on how they present themselves to us.Thus, we conclude, they must also have an image of us in their mind, which we then feel obliged to live up to in order to maintain the relationship.

This makes absolutely no sense.

If this sounds familiar though, maybe we are ready to drop the facade.

At some point, many of us learned–incorrectly–that we have to earn love. Love is unconditional. If it has conditions, it’s not love. Sometimes, though, it takes many years to learn this. In the meantime, we create false identities, along with a whole lotta trouble.

When we believe we must earn love from other people, we strive to make ourselves lovable to them, presupposing that we aren’t already. We carefully plan our behaviors and appearance to find approval from them.

We do what (we think) they want us to do, say what they want us to say, look the way they want us to look. After all, we’re only being considerate of their feelings, right?

Wrong.

All we’re really doing is lying.

And hurting both of us.

Because, you see, when we aren’t true to who are, we create problems. The more we labor over what to do or say in every situation, the more it will backfire in our faces. We will inevitably say or do the wrong thing, and then we will be hurt because we were trying so hard to make the other person happy.

When we try to be someone else to please others, we get angry. We resent the people for whom we’ve changed, even though they never asked us to change in the first place.

Angry, resentful people are not fun to be around.

Every mask, every facade, every false identity is born out of the fear of rejection. Sadly, what happens is that we reject ourselves before we even give others the chance to do it. We just assume that they will. Then they do, and we feel hurt.

In seeking validation from others, we create our own drama in which we play the victim. This is a nasty, toxic cycle that only ends when we step out of the play and stop acting.

If we were meant to be something other than ourselves, we would have been born into a different life.

Every relationship we have is ours for a reason.

Our task is not to earn others’ love. It’s not even our task to make others happy. That includes our parents, our spouses, and our best friends.

Our task is to relate to each other. That’s it. Everything we say and do is meant to come from our real selves. We will still inevitably do and say things that upset each other, but that’s no reason to fear.

Relationships are meant to make everyone in them grow. Growth hurts (a lot) sometimes, but it’s always a good thing. As living things, we are meant to grow, and we are meant to grow together.

That’s why it’s so important for each of us to be true. When we lie to each other about who we are, we inhibit the other people in our relationships. Our growth is tied to theirs. When we do not share ourselves with others, we deny them the good we could be bringing to their lives and we prevent them from blessing us as well.

Not all relationships are meant to last, but some are. If we are going to have real relationships, we have to be brave enough to invest ourselves in them.

Real relationships are built on love, and love is unconditional. Love encompasses everything, and that’s why, in real relationships, there is room for both people to be themselves completely. When we love and accept ourselves without conditions, then we can know and relate with others as they really are. No filters, no masks. Just us.

No one will ever thank you for being who you think they want you to be, but plenty of people will love you for who you are.

And that’s who you really want to be anyway.

 

Waste Not, Want Not Applies to Your Soul Too

So many of us cannot give of ourselves authentically because we are wasting our energy on activities that aren’t good for us.

“Soul-sucking job” is now a cliche, as is “toxic relationship.” We’re spendings millions of dollars on degrees we never use. Addiction statistics have reached absurd levels, and doctors in the US look at us funny if we say we aren’t taking any prescription meds. Netflix binging is the latest family value, and “healthy” can be used as an insult.

There are so many unnecessary demands and distractions in our lives, it’s a wonder any of us ever discover and cultivate our talents. It’s such a shame, because we all have them.

No matter who we are, we all have talents. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter what they are. We don’t have be naturally inclined to music or sports or art or computers or sales…even though that’s what society seems to be telling us.

Whatever our talents are, they are meant to be used to help the world.

Whatever makes us feel good about ourselves is what we are meant to do.

A common misunderstanding of this is the difference between pride and superiority. We are supposed to be proud of who we are. Healthy pride is the result of doing something that reflects our soul’s desires. Hubris or superiority is the result of defining our value against the devaluation of others. We may gain something from superiority, but we are guaranteed to lose much more.

Most of us do not use our energy wisely. Like everything else, energy has become commoditized, something that can be bought and sold and squandered or used to distract us for a few minutes. It comes in a can, after all, or a paper cup with a logo on it.

We’ve lost sight of the fact that our energy is the expression of who we are. We cannot give authentically or expect to receive the blessings meant for us if we are wasting ourselves on jobs, relationships, or activities that do not feed our spirits.

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We want more because we are capable of so much more that we are doing.

The more we suppress our spirits, the more they push back against our skin, trying to get out. Each of us has a perfect design, composed of inclinations and abilities–ways of being, doing, creating, and loving–that do not go gentle into that good night. Our truest desires can become our greatest fears, our most crippling anxieties if we deny them.

That’s how we build our own cages. Then once we’re in our own cages, we’re easy prey for others to put into theirs.

Wasting our desires and talents, we find ourselves wanting more out of life. So we consume more of the things we’re “supposed” to want, what they say we want. But we don’t really want them. What we want is for our lives to have meaning.

The meaning of life is not measured in materials or public opinion.

A job may appear prestigious, but if it is not right for us, we will be wasted in it. The right job may appear unstable and risky, but when we do what we are meant to do, we find we are supported exactly how we need to be.

A couple may look poster-perfect, but if we don’t make each other happy, then we’re hurting ourselves and the people we are actually meant to be with. When we are truly in love, every minute is meaningful.

The thing is, when we are wasting ourselves, what we want seems impossible.
When we aren’t, we know what we want is possible.

There never has been, and never will be again, anyone quite like us. We are not meant to deny parts of ourselves or be anything we’re not. We are not here to waste our energy, to waste our lives.

We are here to learn, to grow, to live, love, and give…

 

As exactly who we are.