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!

Your Breath Is Your Teacher

I’ve been thinking about breathing lately, which is not something I usually do. Even though breathing is the most necessary thing for staying alive, we tend not to give it our attention. Luckily, our bodies breathe involuntarily. What a thankless job. We should appreciate our breath. It has a lot to teach us.

I started thinking about breath recently when I found myself stressed beyond my normal level. When I had to step away from the situation, I closed my eyes and inhaled as deeply as I could. As I released the breath, I felt the space it had made in my mind.

While before I could not see beyond my stress, the breath made room for understanding and compassion for the person who caused the stress. I was taken aback, actually, by the calmness that came over me after. I replayed some of the things this person had said and done, and I found the possible sadness and pain in them, rather than just the annoyance they evoked in me. Then I realized I’ll never know why they were that way that drove me up the wall, but I knew they wouldn’t affect me so if they weren’t poking at an issue of my own. 

Our breath is powerful, the most powerful thing about us. It is more powerful than our minds and our bodies, and our breath is us as much as our minds and bodies are. We are our breath.

Expanding and contracting. Taking in and giving out. Ever ebbing and flowing as part of the whole process of being.

That’s a bit mind-blowing. And that’s good. We should blow our own minds, because we are not just our thinking minds or our acting bodies. If there is any part of the human being with which we should identify, it is our breathing breath.

Notice your breath throughout the day. At any given moment, pay attention to how you are breathing. Then observe your emotions, your physical sensations, your thoughts. Do any of these change after you inhale deeply and exhale completely three or four times? 

When I first started doing yoga, I was intrigued by the concept of “sending breath” to a specific part of the body. Surely breath only goes one place, into the lungs, right? How could I possibly make my breath go to my quads or hips or side body?

But I found it easier than I thought. All it takes, is focusing on the area where you feel tight and breathing deeply. You will feel what it means to send your breath. The life force will go where you direct it. For example, in Warrior 2, the thighs begin to burn and the hip joints reach a limit. Yet, when I “send my breath” to my hips, they open up, relax, and let me sink a little deeper into the stretch.

The truth is your body wants to stretch and grow. Your mind wants to stretch and grow. You want to grow! That’s why you find yourself in challenging situations. You want to be there. Because you want to learn the lessons you can learn only through difficulty. 

So the next time you find yourself feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, breathe and then listen. Be open to what your breath has to teach you. This is the only way forward. No doubt you’ll find you’re more flexible than you thought.