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Start Accepting Yourself, You’re Worth It

Do you ever feel like you are simply never good enough? As a serial perfectionist, I’ve struggled for years with self-acceptance. On the one hand, never settling keeps me striving to continuously better myself. But, as many of you know too well, the thirst for self-improvement is nearly always companioned by a shadow of self-deprecation and self-loathing. There is nearly always that cruel inner voice behind every small triumph, whispering with critical malevolence, making you feel horrible in even the best of circumstances.

Many of us are overly self-critical. A lot of adults, young or old, men or women, struggle with self-acceptance. Something so theoretically simple as loving, forgiving and nurturing yourself eludes so many of us. Why? Because we are taught to be perfect. We are taught to strive for the perfect bodies, the perfect wrinkle-less face, the perfect grades, the perfect house, the perfect lover, the perfect life.

We have made the ultimate goal of living perfection rather than joy and self-fulfillment, which is such a mind-wrecker. Know this: true perfection is impossible. It’s time to accept it. But, to be the happiest, best version of yourself, self-acceptance will make your imperfectly perfect life so much more beautiful. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on my journey to encourage your own self-acceptance:

Accept your successes.

I have the tendency to undervalue the work I’ve done and any progress I’ve made. A lot of people, especially women, I know have this tendency. Yeah, it sounds like I did something awesome, but when you think about it, it really isn’t THAT impressive. Stop belittling your success. Be proud of what you have accomplished and take full credit for it. You deserve to feel proud. Pride in your work is one of the first steps to being comfortable with who you are.

Self-acceptance is not arrogance.

I never want to appear arrogant. I find it a distasteful quality. However, in my quest to avoid arrogance, I sometimes practice so much humility that I become incapable of accepting the compliments and niceties of others. I martyr myself in my humility, boosting others up while pushing myself further and further down. But it’s not doing anyone any favors to dismiss compliments or positivity. We should all accept more positivity into our lives. Allow yourself to receive what you’ve earned and know that you truly deserve it.

mirror

Forget about the past.

Many of the self-acceptance issues I have struggled with arise from the ghosts of my past—namely the body dysmorphia I suffered as a professional dancer. Self-acceptance means being content with yourself in the present. Forget about your past. Stop defining your present by the ghosts behind you. You, in this very moment, are enough. You are worthy. Accept yourself as you are, not as you were.

Stop seeking the approval of others.

The only approval that matters, in the end, is your own. In the wise words of Chance the Rapper: “I don’t wanna be cool. I just wanna be me.” Be who you want to be. Stop focusing on what others want. Sure, you can try to please others. But in order to accept yourself, you have to make yourself a priority. Screw what everyone else thinks. As long as you are happy and no one else is being caused any pain, putting yourself first should be something we all strive for.

Spend time alone.

It’s easy to fill your schedule with dinners, drinks, work, family functions, et cetera. But, without some alone time, you are effectively hiding your true self from yourself. Everyone needs alone time to check in with themselves—to see how you feel, to process any new or outdated beliefs, to reassess how you are generally doing as a modern human. By avoiding alone time, you are perpetuating the fear that you are not enough on your own. Know that you are enough. Take yourself out to dinner and enjoy it. Go solo on a movie date. You’ll soon learn that when you’re solo, you’re more awesome than you could ever begin to imagine.

The key to self-acceptance is knowing that you, as you are right now, are enough. Yes, it takes a little bit of courage to begin to truly accept yourself for who you are, but every step brings you a little more self-empowerment, bit by bit. Self-acceptance can be a slow process. With every two steps of gain, it can sometimes feel like you are dragged a step and a half backwards by those mean voices inside your mind. But remember, even if you go backwards, you are still moving forward—steadily, steadily. Keep on, because the journey to you is so worth it.

By: Jordyn Cormier         October 17, 2016
source: www.care2.com
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How to Stop Being a Victim and Start Creating Your Life

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die.  And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“They” say things happen at the “right” time. For me hearing a presentation, live, by Jack Canfield, came at the perfect time.

I was in San Diego, the traveling babysitter for my precious 5-month old granddaughter, while my daughter attended a nutrition conference. It was an all around win-win situation—a new place to sightsee and of course spend quality (alone) time with baby Rachel and daughter Penina.

When I found out Jack Canfield was the final key speaker, I jumped at the chance to attend. And the topic certainly resonated with me—“getting from where you are to where you want to be.” Now how’s that for someone in transition working to carve out a new path!

There were a lot of takeaways, fabulous ideas to hold onto; so much so that I’ve been carrying around his book, The Success Principles, and studying it since I got home.

One thing that really speaks to me is this idea of taking 100% responsibility for one’s life.

As a society, we are so quick to assign blame and pull out all the excuses as to why something did or did not happen.

All the “He made me, she made me….” finger pointing. There’s a reason why “the dog ate it” became such a classic excuse.

We relinquish all power when we go there. Where are we in this? I know that by nature many of us are passive recipients of life and are at the mercy of what befalls us.

In my workshops with parents on teaching responsibility, many are stuck or love acting in their role as helicopter parents, swooping down to save, rescue, and do all for their kids—all under the guise of, “The more I do for my child, the better parent I am.”
And therefore what are we teaching our kids when they come in to class and tell the teacher, “My mom forgot to pack my lunch”?

Then there’s the parent who comes ranting to school, “Don’t suspend my little Stevie for calling Andy names and hitting him in the playground; his sister does that to him at home, it’s no big deal.”

We are facilitating the perpetuation of an entitled breed of human beings.

In my practice as a therapist, clients would talk for years about being stuck because of what their dysfunctional nuclear families did to them.  “My mother did this, my father that…”

And then of course there’s me. What comes all too naturally for me is my quick ability to find fault with others, to pass judgment and criticize.

Who is to blame—why, my mother of course, queen of “judgmentalism.” I fight against these tendencies constantly.  But they do rear their ugly head often enough.  I guess it’s in my bloodstream. I’m aware of it; I work at it. I know where it comes from; therefore that explains it but it certainly does not excuse it.

 

This is my problem, my issue. What matters is how I handle it and work to respond differently—to catch myself while it’s doing its internal dance before it parts from my lips.

Not owning up to our actions—this takes away our part in doing anything different. We simply remain stuck while we continue to complain and feel miserable in our status quo of negativity.

We don’t have to worry about any discomfort of stepping out and trying on any new responses in this place.

There is no disqualifying the hurts and pain of the past. Our past, along with its inevitable issues and problems, contribute to who we are.

But we can go beyond the pain of our “stuff” and create new and good lives despite….

But we first must take charge of ourselves and decide we are capable of doing, being, and acting differently. We have to decide it’s up to us and not pass along our power to the blame and excuse game.

Assigning blame and making excuses keeps us victimized. We don’t have to do anything different because it’s not about us; it’s about someone or something else. We’re simply the recipient.

We may in fact be the recipient of external forces outside our control, but we have the control over our reactions and responses in what we do and how we handle it.  

Ah, but beginning to look at ourselves and our responses might shake us up a bit. It means we might have to make a move, do something different, or try something new. That can be scary.

Steps to take to begin taking responsibility for our life:

1. Decide you’re going to take on this new way of thinking. It is a different mind-set.

2. Make the conscious decision that it’s up to you.

3. Read some great books (or audio tapes) out there on this idea—by Wayne Dyer, of course Jack Canfield, and Eckhart Tolle. I recommend Madeline Levine’s The Price of Privilege.

4. Pick one thing and decide you’re going to respond differently—for example, when you’re stuck in traffic, decide you’re going to have a different response. Instead of getting all worked up, take some deep breaths and relax back into your seat with some good music on.

5. Put a visual Stop sign up in your mind when you feel yourself becoming defensive and ready to blame.

6. Apologize for something sincerely without attaching any “and” or “but” to it. “I’m sorry I raised my voice, but I couldn’t help it.” The “but” disqualifies the apology. Take responsibility for the reaction of yelling.

7. Take an action step, however small or inconsequential it may seem, toward something you want to attain.

8.  Empower yourself with “I can” and “I will” statements. “I can give this talk.” “I will write this paper.” Then the juices start flowing and we rev ourselves up with positive energy.  (Possibly some fear, too, but we will push through that.)

The internal stop sign goes up with the “I won’t” and “I can’t,” and we cut ourselves off from any creative or out-of-the-box thinking that might yield some unexpected, “Yeah, I can do this.”

9. Adopt the attitude, “change begins with me.”

10. Step outside your comfort zone. Try a different behavior or response to a familiar scenario. If you’re always running late in the morning madness and snapping at everyone in frustration, you can try getting most things ready the night before; try getting up earlier to get ready first; or decide to infuse yourself with some quiet time while everyone else is still sleeping.

This type of thinking and acting isn’t always easy, and it can feel like it’s too much effort, but becoming proactive in creating the life you want will yield tremendous results. You don’t need that big new happening to occur; you’ll see and feel it in the small changes. Those will be the stepping stones to continue onward.


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The One False Belief Holding You Back

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

This summer I was in one of those tourist traps that sell insipid signs like, “I’m on Lake Time” or “Love You More.”  They also had one I’ve never seen before, and it has stuck with me ever since. It said, “Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone.”

Damn right.

The one false belief holding you back is that you think that your past determines who you are. If that were true, no one would ever overcome adversity, benefit from a second chance, or improve themselves through education, self-discipline, or perseverance.

Your past actions, good and bad, can be judged by you and by others. You can learn from your errors as well as your successes. Others can think what they will, but neither your reflections on your past nor others’ opinions of you determine who you are now or in the future.

comfortzone

Believing that your past defines who you are is a toxic fallacy. Consider a circus elephant chained by one leg to a stake in the ground: Why doesn’t the elephant just pull the stake loose and wander away? Because it couldn’t do so when it was young. And so the adult elephant is still restrained—not by the chain, but by its past, or rather, the learned associations from its past (Chain around leg means “can’t walk”).

Cognitive dissonance is the culprit that motivates us to maintain the belief that what we were in the past is all that we ever will be. Leon Festinger originated the concept back in the 1950s. He also proposed the principle of cognitive consistency—that is, that we seek to maintain mental and emotional balance by thinking and acting in compliance with who we think we are. And who do we think we are? The same person we have always been. And so when we attempt to think and act differently, cognitive dissonance sets in.

Here’s the trick— metacognition. That simply means being able to observe one’s own thinking and feelings objectively and unemotionally, so that one can assess what may be “pushing our buttons.” If you want to change but experience cognitive dissonance in the process, metacognition can help you identify dissonance as a normal but unhelpful reaction. With effort you can then master the dissonance and proceed with the changes you want to make, until those changes become the new normal.

Are you chained to the past? If so, that chain exists only in your mind. You can remember and reflect on the past without being defined and limited by it.

What’s stopping you? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Dale Hartley Ph.D., MBA     Machiavellians: Gulling the Rubes     Aug 08, 2016
 


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The Surprising Factor That Can Predict Long Life

You’re only as old as you feel? Research says it’s true. Here’s why.

As I get older, I find myself drawn to news reports and research findings that provide information about how long I might live. After all, this is a key piece of information that would help me plan the most strategic and successful retirement, even though I think that I do not really wish to know for sure how long I have left. Much advertising aimed at people in my age group involves dietary choices, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medications that directly or indirectly promise not only more years of life, but more years of healthy, productive life. Many, if not most, of these promises are based upon little more than wishful thinking and anecdotal evidence. Hence, it is always exciting for a researcher like myself to see studies that bring actual scientific data to bear.

In a recent issue of Psychological Science, a team of European scientists including Stephen Aichele of the University of Geneva, Patrick Rabbit of Oxford, and Paolo Ghisletta of Distance Learning University in Switzerland published such a study. The researchers reported the results of a longitudinal study of more than 6,000 British individuals conducted from 1983 to 2012. The average age of the participants was 64.7 years when they first joined the study, but ages ranged from 41 to 93.

Key medical and psychiatric data including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and tobacco and alcohol use, were collected at three- to six-year intervals throughout the 29-year duration of the study. Daily life measures such as the number of prescription medications taken, sleep patterns, hobbies, and the rated difficulty of activities such as climbing stairs, traveling, preparing meals, and managing social interactions were also examined.

Longevity

In addition to those measures, each participant had his or her cognitive abilities assessed up to a total of four times at four-year intervals. These included measures of:

  • Crystallized intelligence (the ability to use knowledge you already have);
  • Fluid intelligence (the ability to solve new problems, use logic, and identify patterns);
  • Verbal memory;
  • Visual memory; and
  • Mental processing speed (how long it takes to perform a mental task).

All together, the researchers looked at 65 different mortality risk factors as they tracked participants through the later years of their lives. Once the number crunching was finished, the factor that rose to the top was surprisingly simple and straightforward.

The most sensitive measure of longevity was the individual’s own subjective evaluation of how healthy he or she felt. In other words, a person reporting that he or she feels healthy outweighed any other single predictor of a long life, including any medical measures such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure.    

 

Other variables that fell into the top group of predictors included being female; not smoking (or at least not smoking for very long); and cognitive processing speed.

The researchers seemed genuinely surprised that psychological variables such as subjective health and mental processing speed were better predictors of mortality risk than all the other predictors they studied. It has long been known that remaining cognitively active is associated with aging well, but it has never been clear if the cognitive activity is the cause of healthy old age or the result of remaining healthy into one’s golden years. The findings of this study confirm the association between the two domains, but cannot resolve how the cause-and-effect relationship plays out.

In a completely unrelated study published in 2003, researchers asked college students to rate the attractiveness and perceived health of individuals in photographs from the 1920s taken from high school yearbooks. The researchers then tracked down the age of death for the people whose pictures were rated. They discovered that having a handsome or beautiful face as a teenager predicted a long life but, ironically, participants’ judgments about the perceived health of the photographed individuals were completely unrelated to how long they lived. I replicated this finding several times in projects in my Evolution and Human Behavior class by having students do the same thing with photographs taken from Knox College yearbooks from the 1920s.

The explanation for a pretty face predicting a longer life appears to be that attractive faces are symmetrical and “normal”—average in terms of things like size of nose, distance between the eyes, etc. These qualities may reflect a lack of unusual genes, good health, and freedom from parasites or physical trauma—all of which are good if you wish to live long and prosper.

Posted May 09, 2016     Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D.     Out of the Ooze


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Why High School Stays With us Forever

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For better or worse, many of us never forget high school: the unrequited romantic crushes, chronic embarrassment, desperate struggles for popularity, sexual awakening, parental pressure and, above all else, competition – social, athletic, academic.

There’s even an entire genre of entertainment that revolves around high school. “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Mean Girls,” “Heathers,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” all revisit the conflict and angst of these years.

What is it about this period of our lives that makes it seem more meaningful and memorable than any other?

My research experience as an evolutionary psychologist leads me to believe that many factors interact to make our teenage memories so vivid. But the main driver is the collision between the hardwiring of our brains that took place across several million of years of evolution and the odd social bubble created by high school, which poses an unprecedented social challenge to our prehistoric minds.

In other words, the world that we evolved to be successful in (a small, stable group of interrelated people of various ages) is very different from the holding pen full of teenagers brimming with hormones that populate our world during the high school years.

‘The reminiscence bump’

Some look back on high school as the best time of their life and pine for those “good old days.” Whether or not this was actually the case, it turns out there may have been some evolutionary advantages to having a rosy view of the past.

But most of us remember high school with an emotional mixture of longing, regret, joy and embarrassment. And strong emotions equal strong memories; even the music from those years gets imprinted on our brain like nothing that comes later.

Memory researchers have, in fact, identified something called “the reminiscence bump,” which shows that our strongest memories come from things that happened to us between the ages of 10 and 30.

What is it about this time of life that makes it stand out from the rest of our years? Part of it is undoubtedly due to changes in the brain’s sensitivity to certain types of information during adolescence. Emotions signal the brain that important events are happening, and the teen years are chock full of important social feedback about one’s skills, attractiveness, status and desirability as a mate. This is precisely the stuff we need to pay attention to in order to successfully play the cards we have been dealt and to become socially and reproductively successful.

A dog-eat-dog world

Memory research may offer hints about why the mental snapshots of our high school years remain so vivid even decades later. But evolutionary psychology can also help explain why so much meaning is attached to these years and why they play such an important role in who we become.

For example, there’s a reason teenagers often strive to be popular.

As far as scientists can tell, our prehistoric forebears lived in relatively small groups. Most people would live out their entire life in this group, and one’s social standing within it was determined during adolescence. How much one was admired as a warrior or hunter, how desirable one was perceived to be as a mate and how much trust and esteem was accorded to one by others – all of this was sorted out in young adulthood. A person deemed to be a loser at 18 was unlikely to rise to a position of prominence at 40. Thus, from an evolutionary perspective, the competition of the teen years had lifelong repercussions.

Of course, today, those who have unsavory high school experiences can move to new places after graduation and start over. However, even though we may be consciously aware of this (to the extent that we are consciously aware of anything when we are teenagers), the psychological buttons that get pushed in the adolescent brain make us become consumed with our social lives during this period.

Popularity can become an obsession, since you’ll be ranked against the people in your own age cohort for the rest of your life. After all, your status as an adult primarily depends upon how you stack up compared with them, not with others.

Also, strong pressures to conform ensure that you do not stray too far from a friend group’s values. Ostracism from the group in prehistoric times was tantamount to a death sentence.

june75
Sometimes, conformity can lead to
cringeworthy moments – bad hairstyles among them.

It all requires forging alliances and demonstrating loyalty to others. The result is a splintering of the social world into competing cliques that grind each other up in the gears of the social hierarchy.

Mom, stop bugging me!

Back home, conflict with parents is usually inevitable. Parents want their children to succeed, but they usually have a more long-term perspective than that of their teen.

So the things that the parent thinks that the child should be concerned with (preparing for a career and developing important life skills) and the things that the child is emotionally driven to actually be concerned with (being popular and having fun) are often at odds. Parents usually realize where the parent-offspring tension comes from. Kids don’t.

Meanwhile, hormones fuel the sort of “showing off” that would have increased one’s attractiveness in early societies. In young men we still reward, to some extent, the things that would have been essential for success in hunting and combat thousands of years ago: the willingness to take risks, fighting ability, speed and the ability to throw with velocity and accuracy. Young women will showcase their youth and fertility. Beauty, unfortunately, continues to be a significant criterion by which they are judged.

Reunion angst

In earlier times, because you had a personal connection with nearly everyone in your group, the ability to remember details about the temperament, predictability and past behavior of peers had a huge payoff. There would have been little use for a mind designed to engage in abstract statistical thinking about large numbers of strangers.

In today’s world, while it is still important to keep tabs on known individuals, we also face new challenges. We interact with strangers on a daily basis, so there’s a need to predict how they’ll behave: will this person try to swindle me or can he or she be trusted? Is this someone important that I should get to know or a nobody that I can safely ignore?

It’s a task many of us find difficult because our brains weren’t really wired to do this, and we fall back on cognitive shortcuts, such as stereotyping, as a way to cope.

Natural selection instead shaped an innate curiosity about specific people – and a memory to store this information. We needed to remember who treated us well and who didn’t, and the more emotional the memory, the less likely we are to forget it. It’s tough to forget when the person you thought of as a close friend publicly snubbed you, or the time that you caught another trusted friend flirting with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

The result is a strong propensity for holding grudges. It protects us from being taken advantage of again but can also make for some uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing moments at high school reunions.

To further complicate things, high school is probably the last time in life when people of all sorts are thrown together for no other reason than they are the same age and live in the same area. Yes, high schools are often segregated by economic background and race. But most high schoolers will still encounter more day-to-day diversity than they will later in life.

After high school, studies have shown that people begin to sort themselves out according to intelligence, political values, occupational interests and a wide range of other social screening devices.

At the same time, however, the people you knew in high school remain your default group for engaging in social comparison.

According to “Social Comparison Theory,” we figure out how good we are and develop a sense of personal worth by comparing ourselves with others; the more similar those others are, the better we can gauge our own strengths and weaknesses. Because your high school classmates will always be the same age as you – and because they started out in the same place – there’s inherently a degree of interest in finding out what happened to them later in life, if for no other reason than to see how your own life stacks up.

Given all this, it’s no wonder that the English Romantic poet Robert Southey once wrote that the “the first 20 years are the longest half of your life, no matter how long you might live.”

June 1, 2016        Frank T. McAndrew Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology, Knox College


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Is It Self-Indulgent to be Self-Compassionate?

Motivate yourself with love not fear

Posted Apr 17, 2011     Kristin Neff Ph.D.    The Power of Self-Compassion

When people ask me what I do and I tell them that I study self-compassion, they often get a hesitant expression on their face. I guess self-compassion is a good idea, they say, but can’t you be too self-compassionate? In fact, the number one reason people give for why they aren’t more self-compassionate is that they’re afraid if they’re too soft on themselves, they’ll let themselves get away with anything. They really believe that their internal judge plays a crucial role in keeping them in line and on track. In other words, they confuse self-compassion with self-indulgence.

As I’ve defined it in my academic writing, self-compassion involves three components: being kind and caring toward yourself rather than harshly self-critical; framing imperfection in terms of the shared human experience; and seeing things clearly without ignoring or exaggerating problems. Self-compassion also enhances rather than undermines motivation. While this may not be obvious at first, it’s easier to see if we think of how a mother might best motivate her child. Let’s say her son comes home with a failing exam grade, and she tells him “you’re so stupid and lazy, you’ll never amount to anything!” Will that be an effective motivator? Of course not. It might make him work harder temporarily, but ultimately it will just depress him and make him lose faith in himself. The mother would be more successful if she emotionally supported her child. “I know this is disappointing for you, but everybody messes up sometimes. It’s important that you improve your grades if you want to go to college, so let’s see if we can figure out a new study routine that works better. I know you can do it.” This type of kind encouragement will be more efficacious and long-lasting because it will give her child the confidence and backing needed to succeed.

self-love

It’s exactly the same with ourselves. When we are kind and supportive when we fail or notice something we don’t like about ourselves, we’ll want to make changes for the better. Not because we feel inadequate or worthless as we are, but because we care about ourselves and want to alleviate our own suffering. While the motivational power of self-criticism comes from fear, the motivational power of self-compassion comes from love. When we care about ourselves, we’ll try to change any behaviors that are causing us harm. We’ll also be much more likely to admit those areas of needed change because it’s emotionally safer to see ourselves clearly. If we’re harshly self-critical, we’re likely to hide the truth from ourselves – or even better yet – blame our problems on someone else, in order to avoid self-flagellation. If it’s safe to admit our own flaws, however, we can more clearly see the areas that need work.

Research strongly supports the idea that self-compassion enhances motivation. For instance, many studies show that people who are self-compassionate are less depressed and anxious than self-critics, meaning their state of mind is more conducive to putting forth effort. They also have higher “self-efficacy” beliefs, which means they have more confidence in their ability to succeed. Also, self-compassion has a strong negative association with fear of failure, whereas self-criticism exacerbates this fear. Who wants to take risks in life when you know failure will be met with harsh self-judgment? It’s much easier not to try. When you have self-compassion, however, you’ll trust that any failures will be met with kindness and support. You’ll remember that failure is part of life. This means you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes and grow from them.

In fact, research indicates that self-compassionate people are more likely to take personal responsibility for past mistakes than self-critics, but are also less emotionally upset by them. Other studies show that when people have self-compassion after failing at a task, they’re more likely to pick themselves up again and work towards new goals. Research demonstrates that self-compassionate people tend to set goals related to personal learning and growth rather than trying to impress others. They’re also more successful at their goals: self-compassion has been shown to help people remain motivated to exercise, quit smoking and to stick to their diets.

So don’t worry. If you start treating yourself with compassion you won’t sit around all day watching TV and eating buckets of Kentucky Fried chicken. Rather than encouraging self-indulgence, self-compassion helps motivate us to reach our full potential. And it sure feels a lot better than the whip!


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How To Make Friends With Your Inner Critic

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to licensed counselor and intuition coach John Harrison. John has written a fantastic guest post about the benefits of negative self talk. Yes, that’s right! John shows us how to make friends with our inner critic and let it guide us back to authenticity.

by John Harrison, LPCC      Sharon Martin, LCSW

We all experience positive and negative self talk.

We’ve been alive long enough to have experienced viewpoints of ourselves that are negative, self deflating, and undermining and those that tell us we are limitless creators, lovers of life, and the masters of our own destiny.   One set of beliefs tells us we “aren’t”.  The other tells us we “are”.  How do we know which is the affirming view of our own reality?  Who are we, really?

Most of my clients come to see me looking for guidance to help them “get on the right track”.   One person in particular has a stretch of weeks where her life is really coming together for her.  She’s engaged, excited, and feeling she’s turned that corner.  Then, to her disappointment, she’ll have one of her negative interactions with her family.  They’ll tell her she’s being selfish.  They’ll suggest she’s wasting her time with her career and that “if she’d just change” she’d be able to find someone that would want to date her.

After these run-ins with her family she’ll come to my office completely devastated.   The self doubt creeps in.  “What if they’re right?  Am I being selfish?  Can I ever be happy with my decisions?”  She really feels that each time she has a setback she is starting over from scratch.  I know that it feels that way to her.  But she’s doing just fine.

Your inner critic doesn’t define you.

Although we all contain negative self talk, we are actually much more than this “self chatter”.  Sure, we carry the doubts and fears of our parents, our families, the experiences of failure from growing up.   We hear those “voices of the past” as we move into adulthood and even now in our current life experiences.   But this isn’t actually who we really are.  There’s a part of us that knows the “right way”.  A part of us that knows joy and peace.  So how do we tap into this?  How do we tune out the negative self talk and ignore those crippling, shameful voices that tell us we aren’t enough?

self

You don’t turn them off.  You can’t completely stop that negative self talk.  But you can actually use those awful feelings you get when your negative self talk is at its worst to give you guidance.   You can learn from your negative beliefs, self talk, and feelings.  The negative feelings caused by negative self talk are the first indication that you aren’t in alignment with your true self.   Why?  Because you are worthy just by being alive.  You deserve to feel good.  You deserve to be confident, healthy, and thriving.

Self affirming thoughts and beliefs feel good.  They feel right.  And if you want to feel good, this is all you need to pay attention to in knowing you are “on the right path”.

You don’t need permission to feel good.

You are supposed to feel good.  You are supposed to be happy and get what you want.   Feeling good, alive, and engaged in life is what life is all about.  Sure we’ve all been taught in one form or another that we get love and acceptance as long as we “play by the rules”.  But I’m going to tell you this:  You are deserving of what you want because you are.  Period.  You don’t need permission to feel good.  You don’t need to be ashamed to feel happy and get what you want.

Your negative self talk can guide you back to yourself.

You have an internal GPS.  A guidance system that tells you when you are “off” and when you are “on” and where you want to be.   If you use those negative beliefs of yourself, or that negative self talk, to signal you that you aren’t where you want to be, the negative voices and stories in your mind can be a powerful ally.  Stop trying to look for proof that your self defeating beliefs aren’t your reality.  Stop trying to prove yourself and look for external affirmation.  Give yourself permission to accept that you can demand and get what you want because you say so.  And I’m assuming that you want more good in your life.  You want to be happy, content, and be in love with your life.

And here you are.  Living your life while going through the ups and downs.   But you’ve made it this far.  You know that for every self defeating belief, there is still a part of you who continues to seek something better.  There’s a “you” that’s constant through all of this.   The you that knows the contrast of life.  The pain, the shame, and the love and excitement of being happy and alive.  All of it.   The truth is you want to be happy, engaged, and in love with life.  But as life does, it gives us the negative experiences that bring those voices of doubt to the forefront of our conscious minds.  But “you”, the real “you” continues to tell you through negativity that you aren’t living your truth.   This is your intuition.  Your internal GPS.  It loves you.  It doesn’t lie.  All you have to do is listen to it.

John Harrison is a licensed counselor and intuition coach who works with individuals and couples helping them get “unstuck”. He shows them how to empower their lives, helping them see they are their own greatest asset. John counsels individuals and couples in Cincinnati, Ohio and coaches people from all over the country showing them how to use their “higher self” to get the lives they want. You can find out more about John and his services at johnharrisoncounseling.com.