For most of my thirties, I was chronically dissatisfied. From the outside, my life was picture perfect. I had a good marriage, a great career, and two healthy little boys. But I was totally at the mercy of those critical thoughts constantly swirling through my head that told me that I was never enough.
I agonized over my weight, how clean my house was, or how many clients I had in my private psychotherapy practice. My life revolved around making sure I had the right personality, the right husband, the right kids, the right home, the right body, the right friends, and the right career so I could feel happy, content, and successful.
Even though I was living the life I always wanted, I was also constantly overwhelmed, discontent, and found fault with myself (and everyone and everything around me).
It was like my thoughts were a tape recorder on an endless loop. They told me that once I got there (wherever there was), life would be amazing. And I blindly let this automatic, critical voice guide how I felt about almost every part of life that mattered to me most. I was so busy doing more, having more, and being more that I was blind to the joy, satisfaction, and gratitude for the life I was already living.
By the time I was 40, I didn’t even know where my Inner Critic ended and I began. Like so many of us, I slowly recognized that the thoughts driving every part of my life didn’t actually reflect who I really was. And the more I saw how my Inner Critic was reigning over my life, the more I wanted to discover who I really was.
In my work with women, I’ve learned that discovering who you really are begins the moment you wake up to the realization that there is a still, quiet voice underneath all of your Inner Critic’s chatter. And when you befriend your authentic self, you actually get an owner’s manual for your mind. It’s truly the ultimate game-changer for feeling the joy, peace, and contentment we all crave.
Here are 4 strategies to help you rediscover who you authentically are:
Take 10 minutes every morning to write down everything your Inner Critic is saying to you.
When you become intimately familiar with the voice of your Inner Critic, you can see her as separate from you. Chances are you will catch her spewing her same old negative messages…but now you can choose to think better thoughts that make you feel gratitude and appreciation. Practicing this every day is how you begin to rewire a new mind.
Keep a log of your emotions and behaviors that are not in alignment with the life you want to be living.
There are telltale indication signs that alert you to when your Inner Critic has hijacked your mind. When you are short with your kids or want to drink a whole bottle of wine to “take the edge off”, these are the times when your Inner Critic might be whipping up some drama. Spot her repetitive rants and you can knock her off the throne in your mind.
Notice where your Inner Critic makes you feel like, “You’re not good enough!”
Your Inner Critic has probably kept you feeling like you’re not good enough for your whole life. When we are children, we blame people, events, or circumstances for how we feel. This makes us feel helpless and disempowered to do anything to change the way we feel because, in order to change the way you feel, you’d have to go back and change your past (which is impossible).
Write down the life you desire as though it’s already here. Read your vision for your new life every day.
Our life gets smaller and smaller when we avoid change and try to fit life into the parameters of our comfort zone. Brene Brown says, “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” For true change, we need to visualize the life we want to create and align our thoughts, feelings, and actions with our future as though we already are who we want to become.
You can’t stop your Inner Critic from spewing her habitual, repetitive, automatic chatter. She’ll be with you forever because she’s been with you forever. But when you know the difference between you and your Inner Critic, you have the power to live the life you were meant to live.