TAMING THE SELF-CRITIC
We learn as little girls not to publicly celebrate our strengths and things we do well. Instead, we learn to hide our lights and fabulousness under a bushel of self-criticism.
The self-critical voice is created when you’re little to keep you safe from the feelings of shame and failure.
So how do we tame this nasty self-critical voice? First, we become aware of what triggers it.
How much are you aware of the inner chatter inside your mind? Michael Singer calls it the “inner roommate” in his book The Untethered Soul. How self-critical is your inner roommate? You may or may not be aware of how much and exactly what that inner self-critic is saying.
Your self-critic becomes particularly strong when something happens that we see as a “failure” because that’s a threat to our well-being.
Now, I want you to think of a time that you “failed” at something. Maybe you got fired or downsized from a job. Perhaps a significant other betrayed you with another. You failed a course that you thought you were going to pass. Your mom died and you weren’t at her bedside. You broke a leg skiing down an expert run. Choose one that still has a sting to it for you.
What does your inner self-critical voice say about this experience? Recall the words and the feelings, as vividly as you can. I find it helpful to write them down in my journal because it gets the words out of my head, so try that and see if it helps you.
How intense this experience of self-criticism is helps you to really get the level of severity of your self-critic.
And before we can tame the self-critic, we need to get to know it and become familiar with it. Become friends with it, so to speak.
So for now, pay attention to your self-critical voice. What exactly does it say? Are there certain experiences that trigger it more than others? For me, there’s a sense of not getting things quickly enough that thrusts me into self-criticism. And that’s odd, because mostly I’m pretty quick, but when I’m slow at something, I really struggle.
I have found it helpful to write one thing down in my journal every night that my self-critical voice has said. Just seeing it on paper changes it for me. I believe the nastiness of the voice less and often I can see the distorted thinking behind it.
In the next blog, we’ll talk more about how to create space from your self-critic using mindfulness tools.
I’m facilitating two workshops on Taming the Self-Critic at Janati Yoga School this fall, Sat Oct 26 from 2-5 or Friday November 22, 6-9 pm. Join me if you can in this safe and confidential workshop to explore your self-critic. Create space from your self-critic using mindfulness tools and develop your own inner “compassion coach”.
I’d love to hear more about your experience with taming your self-critic!
Susan Young is a mindfulness facilitator and professional certified coach guiding people toward their purpose and goals with confidence….firstname.lastname@example.org