7 Ways to Relieve Stress, Anxiety, and Fear: Part 6 – Forgive Yourself, Harness Your Inner Critic, and Cultivate Self-Compassion
The drive for perfection and the misconception that we actually can be perfect do not tend to serve us in a healthy way. If that drive is strong enough, it can lead us straight into stress, anxiety, and a cycle of chronic pain.
We live in a culture of paradox in many ways. ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ are defined. At school, there is the answer or we get the problem wrong, and are graded as such. In the world of computers, there is ‘on’ and ‘off’ – another ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ area in our lives. Grey areas and space where mistakes are encouraged and nourished as doors of discovery don’t fit in this world. It’s a paradox for us to shift from that ‘perfectionist’ thinking to a way of living that opens us up to trial and error as a fact of life, and of possibility! It is no wonder that we are confused and feel frustration and anxiety.
When we become aware of this paradox and realize that our Inner Critic is working overtime in an area it doesn’t even belong, we can make a shift.
When our inner critic gets to be this influential in our life, I say it’s time for a makeover. I will take you through the process I used to ‘tame’ my Inner Critic.
- I decided to change: I realized one day that I was feeling so tired of the heaviness I felt every time I heard the voice of my Inner Critic, that I decided to make a change
- I asked myself – how can I affect lasting change and shift how my Inner Critic shows up for me? I realized that this Inner Critic voice was sometimes a helpful one and that some version of it would always be with me. Knowing and accepting this, I decided to re-assign the role of my Inner Critic.
- The Makeover: First I had to really get a handle on exactly who I was working with. I sensed into her. What did she look like? What did she wear and how did she hold herself in ‘the world’? What did she speak? What was her demeanor? What was she feeling? Through answering these questions, I understood this inner persona much better.
I imagined my Inner Critic as standing about 7 feet tall (to my actual 5’4”). She wore the black robes of a Supreme Court judge and held a steady, sullen, and stern gaze everywhere her eyes went, as she lorded over the world judging all within her reach. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun. Her face was ashen from always bring indoors. She was so serious, never smiled, and always had a critical comment about everything, whether asked for or not. She was relentless.
I reassigned her to a new position altogether. I imagined who I wanted her to be.
I changed her attire by giving her long flowing white robes embroidered with flowers. I let her hair down. It fell gracefully down below her shoulders. I put in a beautiful garden, and as the sun shined down on her, pink cheeks appeared to replace her ashen skin. I gave her lavender oil to calm her, rose oil for love, and chocolate to give her a taste of the sweetness in life. I gave her a mantra: “I forgive you, and I forgive myself.” Now that is closer to a trusted wise woman.
I replaced this Supreme Court judge’s voice with that of with a comedian – Joan Rivers. Joan had such a wonderful sense of humor, and always had a hilarious comment to make.
My Inner Critic was now rebranded. I gave myself a hug and gratefully, joyfully embraced all that I was.
It took a little practice and awareness for me to implement and integrate the ‘being nature’ of my newly minted wise woman Inner Critic, but I was determined to shift my internal dialogue. I held the intention to listen to this new version and if I ever heard the voice of the old judgmental inner critic in my mind, I reminded her that she has a new role and to kindly get with the program.
Now – how can you shift your Inner Critic to be more like a wise, loving, maybe even humorous companion?
We are enough. You are enough. You always were enough. Give yourself love, always.
For more on learning to harness your inner critic and other help, I invite you to please check out my FREE Tool Kit for Relieve Stress.