Want to build your self esteem and confidence? Here is how you can learn to tame your inner critic

In the ideal world every time we would have a thought it would be one the supports us, tells us how awesome we are, or helps us to believe in ourselves. In the real world (at least in my real world) my thoughts have not always been my best friend. And just when I think I am super cool and have mastered them, another one appears to let me know I am not done… just this morning, I went for a run and my pace was not feeling great and I was having issues breathing. Normally I would have been hard on myself (“you are out of shape”, “if I can’t hold my pace today how am I going to be able to compete faster?”) but I was super zen and I thought “it’s okay, one day you feel like this, tomorrow you will feel better. just stay in the present moment”… I came back home feeling awesome about my new found mindfulness and being nice to myself since mis of the time my inner critic comes out in anything related to my running or the areas where I want to achieve something. I took a shower and when I was combing my hair in front of the mirror I saw puffiness next to my cheeks… I look closer and it was not puffiness, it’s called gravity and being older. I immediately started criticizing  my looks “oh fudge (ok, it was not fudge, it was a word that rhymes with it) I look old!”, then I continue with “of course I look old, I haven’t taken care of my skin in the past 45 years. Darn it Tere, Why didn’t you listen to your mother?”… then before I realized it I was being super hard on myself for being hard on myself “it’s okay to look older, why are you criticizing yourself? Haven’t you learned anything in your mindfulness classes? Clearly you are not practicing enough, you need to practice enough! When are you going to learn????”… so I went from being hard on myself for looking old to being hard on myself for being hard on myself. Pretty sad Right?

IMG_1849I was judging myself for not having tight skin around my jaw line.

One of the things that I have been learning and that I realize is a process is to quiet my mind. I came across a fantastic studio called Anahata yoga where I learned to accept things the way they are and to be more present and have more self love. Granted, I still have a long way to go but I have seen lots of improvement. The first one is that I can recognize when I am being hard on myself, and most of the time I can stop. The second one is that I am learning to have self compassion which, in turn, helps me to be more compassionate towards others (and less judgmental). I have noticed  a fantastic improvement in my performance and I believe one of the reasons why I was able to run all my Personal Best Times since last year is because I have been able to be present when I run. Great for my running, now if I can only apply it to my every day life and the time I am in front of the mirror my life will be pretty close to perfect.

(keep reading for there is the answer as to what to do to tame our inner critic)

FullSizeRenderThis is the Yoga Studio that has changed my life. If you live in Scottsdale or come to town you need to check it out!

So, What to do???? Well, When the inner critic arises, we can feel its pull with urgency: You’re not good enough! Fix it, this way, now! And so on. We all have our personal brand of critic, but they each share common traits—namely, the inner critic has a lot to say to us. Here are three things the critic won’t tell you that can help untangle you from its grasp:

1) The inner critic isn’t compassionate. It puts you down, it tears you apart and you end up feeling pretty bad

2) Shift happens!  (no typo here). We can shift our attitude in the moment. It is possible. Here are two ways practicing mindfulness has help me to get better at dealing with change:

a) Watch Your Reactivity: How are you reacting? Is it out of fear? Low confidence? Expectations? What others think? Once you identify it think about hat you would tell the person you love the most if they are in this circumstance and tell that to yourself.

b) Be Kind to Yourself It’s not that mindful self-compassion solves the problems of the moment. It doesn’t. Self-compassion and other positive emotion practices—gratitude, awe, generosity, joy, delight, serenity, love—simply shift the functioning of the brain to put us in a better position to solve the problem.

Shift happens when we intentionally choose to focus our awareness on the experience of compassion, gratitude, warmth, and other feelings that put us in touch with our natural resilience. These practices can shift the functioning of the brain instantly. Over time, these practices become steadily more reliable, the new “go to” when we are navigating the twists and turns of life.

It’s not that mindful self-compassion solves the problems of the moment. It doesn’t. Self-compassion and other positive emotion practices—gratitude, awe, generosity, joy, delight, serenity, love—simply shift the functioning of the brain to put us in a better position to solve the problem.

Shift happens when we intentionally choose to focus our awareness on the experience of compassion, gratitude, warmth, and other feelings that put us in touch with our natural resilience. These practices can shift the functioning of the brain instantly. Over time, these practices become steadily more reliable, the new “go to” when we are navigating the twists and turns of life.

3) That little voice can be ignored. Research shows that developing mindfulness skills may help us build secure self-esteem, that is, self-esteem that endures regardless of our success in comparison to those around us.

 

There are four things we can practice for this:

1) Labeling internal experiences with words, which might prevent us from getting consumed by self-critical thoughts and emotions;

2) Bringing a non-judgmental attitude toward thoughts and emotions, which could help us have a neutral, accepting attitude toward the self;

3) Sustaining attention on the present moment, which could help us avoid becoming caught up in self-critical thoughts that relate to events from the past or future; and

4) Letting thoughts and emotions enter and leave awareness without reacting to them.

 

I know that, just like with anything in life, if you practice one day it’s better than no practicing at all, but if you really want to go all the way you have to practice every day. I wouldn’t run a marathon with the intention to do well by running only once per week. So, How am I expecting to be better at being mindful and present if I am only practicing this once in a while?

 

Thanks for reading. Remember you can suscribe to this blog to get it directly on your email. Please follow me on twitter (@terezacher), instagram (insightfulrunner) or my Facebook Page (Tere Zacher) for daily motivation reminders

 

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