Things have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart. The day after I launched my online self-care business to my inner circle, I received news that my ex boyfriend of seven years, the man I moved to Florida with and bought my first house with took his own life. There are no words. He was struggling, like so many of us do. Everyday wearing a mask of contentment while battling their inner demons. The fucked up thing about it is those inner demons are a part of you, something you’ve created. The out pour of love for him has been a steady stream since it happened. It’s so hard to see when you’re in the drenches of your own thoughts. Suicide is not uncommon. Mental illness is running rampant. Your brain is so powerful, it will create the things you’re thinking about. How does one harness that and use that superpower for good instead of evil?
This is just the tip of the iceberg but seems like a great place to start. Here’s some tips to silencing the negativity and taming your inner critic.
Become aware: This is the first step to most things. Simply noticing what exactly you’re thinking about. I see you, little monkey mind always chattering. Our thoughts are often biased, exaggerated and disproportionate. Just because you’re thinking about it, doesn’t means it’s the truth. It’s the lens in which you see it. There is usually an ongoing narrative that can be hard to distinguish. Step back and become the observer of that.
Stop the madness: So you had a bad day, things at work didn’t go as planned, you made a mistake, whatever. Stop replaying it over and over. It will just make you feel worse and won’t solve anything. That is torture. You can’t tell yourself to stop thinking about it either, because then you’re still thinking about it. It’s hard to avoid. The key is distraction, any parent has probably used this technique at some point with an upset child. Go for a walk, move your body, clean your house, anything to stop the mind from spiraling out of control.
Thanks, I’ve got this: Your inner critic is there to keep you out of harms way. Sometimes that voice was put there by a parent, boss, partner or teacher. “You’re not smart enough”. “You should never paint again”. These statement gets buried deep down, you’ve repeated that over and over again and it becomes the way. It’s building pathways in the brain. You don’t want to get hurt like that again so you better not try. Screw that! That keeps you small. When those thoughts arise, say to yourself, “thanks, I appreciate your concern, I’m totally safe, I’ve got this.” When you’re on the edge of doing something new or trying to expand, you can be sure you will hear the voice of uncertainty.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
True and false: Imagine the story you’re telling yourself is “my new business will never take off”. Why do you think that is? Jot down the evidence why that may be true and why that’s just a plain lie. Worst case scenario, that’s a true statement. Well, you put on your big girl pants and move on. You’re out a bit of money but the lessons you learned along the way are priceless. Remind yourself of a time that you handled a tough situation. Tackling problems increases your confidence. Best case scenario, the business flourishes and thousands of lives of people around the world are changed drastically for the better. Chances are the situation will probably land somewhere in the middle.
Reframe it: Your mental structure is built on personal beliefs regarding yourself, your roles, your conditions and other people. A slight shift in thinking can make a huge difference. Remove the word can’t from your vocabulary. You can, where there is a will, there is a way. Other downers words include don’t and won’t. Unless you’re talking about your boundaries, there are better choices of words out there. Instead of saying to yourself “I’ll never get that promotion, other people deserve it more than me”, you say “if I get promoted, I will have a lot to learn.” Re-framing the situation has a magnitude of effect on your self confidence and recognizing your capabilities.
Acceptance: You will not be great at everything, that’s just the way it is. So embrace your challenges. If you’re not good at something and feel you’ve come to a road block, this is a great time to learn. Get good at it. Research, practice and grow! Ask for help, seek it out. See a professional if you need to. There is no weakness in asking for help, it’s quite the opposite really. I assure you, once you start to seek guidance, it’s gets much easier to ask for it. Recognizing what it is you need to improve upon is how you flourish. If something doesn’t work, tweak it, adjust and try again. Life is a roller coaster so having the skills to maintain sanity and still be kind is a must.
Inner mentor: Listen to the most powerful and secure part of you. Tapping into your inner wisdom will guide you to your ideal life. Visualize yourself in 20 years. What do you look like? What kind of house do you live in? Is it near the beach or mountains? How do you spend your days? Once you become comfortable with this person, start a conversation. Ask questions. You will experience a deep knowing of the answers. Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big, has a wonderful 20 minute guided meditation on getting to know your inner mentor. Check it out if you’re interested.
Suffering exists, it’s the human condition. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases. That’s a big one. According to Buddhism there are eight attitudes or paths you must follow to find freedom from suffering.
1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
Religious or not, that’s just good information. If you’re struggling or suffering, find connection. Reach out, there will be someone there to catch you and build you up. Take a moment out of your day to listen to a friend in need. When you’re thinking about someone, call them up. Be there during their darkest hour. I’m not saying this is easy work, it’s not but it’s so meaningful and needed. You are loved and your life matters.
If this rings true to you and you can relate, please share. Share this blog, a story of a time when you overcame great disappointment or your struggles. Know that you are not alone.