How to Transform Your Inner Critic

Some things can’t be explained, and a little mystery is a good thing.

That’s what I love about working with Jill Prescott.

Disclaimer: Jill is a good friend and I love her madly.

That’s not why I’m writing this.

I want you to know about Jill because working with her is life-changing. I’ve worked with many coaches, healers, and mentors over the years, and very few have had the impact I’ve experienced with this woman.

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer

I’m writing this because Jill is one such human being, and I know what awaits those who register for her new program, Embrace Your Humanity.

It’s about acknowledging and transforming your inner critic.

Yes, we all have at least one, and too often it can feel like it’s living your life instead of YOU living your life.

Self-help advice like ‘love yourself’ and ‘don’t listen to that voice in your head’ is useless when you’re caught up in the inner critic’s world of judgment and negativity.

That’s where Jill comes in, and if you let her, she’ll guide you from that place of judgment to a new reality called self-love.

Here’s her story.

You've been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. - Louise Hay

How to Transform Your Inner Critic (and embrace your humanity)

 I’m interested in people falling in love with themselves.

I’m convinced if that happened the world would change dramatically and instead of being surrounded by fear, self hate, anger and regret we would embody peace, love, grace and joy.

Sounds like utopia right?

Well what if you simply started with you?

By now, we all are aware that we must start with ourselves if we have any hope of transforming the world around us.

Through much personal growth, and downright determination I’ve come to realize that the very first step on that journey is to find out what’s really going on inside your own head.

You may be surprised if you slow down and just listen for a minute. When I did what I heard was “well that was dumb” and “idiot” and “DO NOT leave. This is as good as it’s gonna get for you”.

Turns out I was dealing with an Inner Critic. Several, actually. And as I began to dig deeper into this topic I realized it’s an epidemic.

You can find 2,419 books by typing Inner Critic into the search engine on Amazon alone! Two thousand, four hundred and nineteen books. Wow.

So I bought about half of them and started reading. (a slight exaggeration.)

Symptoms of the Inner Critic:

  1. Sleeplessness
  2. Can’t make decisions
  3. Afraid to leave a job/relationship/group of friends that you know isn’t working for you anymore
  4. Stress and anxiety

How many can you relate to?

There are a lot more, and I put a check mark beside about 90% of them.

I lost my shit for a while when I got the full impact of what was going on. It was scary as hell.

For those that don’t know me, I’m not quite 5 feet tall and under a C-note in weight. I don’t fall over too easily, and when I do, you can bet I won’t stay down for long.

I rallied and got to work. It started while I was in a program Sandi offered a few years ago, and while the inner critic conversation was a small part of the overall program, the impact it had on me was profound.

It had such a massive impact that I started teaching my clients how to work with it, turning it from inner critic to inner guide.

The shifts people experienced were nothing short of miraculous, and it started by being willing to listen to and face what I had been telling myself all those years. I had continued suffering long after the initial trauma as over.

Through this work, I took back my life.

I started saying “no” to the things and people who were not right for me.

I saw my value and stopped being dominated by the nonsense going on in my head.

Did it end the negative self talk completely?

No, but that’s normal, and a part of being human.

“A destructive thought process exists within all of us, and we are plagued to varying degrees by an internal dialogue that is harmful, restrictive, and at its ultimate extreme, self-destructive.” – Lisa Firestone

What’s unusual is how quickly I now catch it. I can look at where it came from, and decide if it’s something I can use to my benefit or simply let it go.

That’s what I want for you.

 

* Jill has generously offered a spot to one of my readers. To qualify, please visit this post on Facebook and tell us how you think this program would help you.

 

We Must Move Into Love

“To transcend fear we must move somewhere else emotionally; we must move into love.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We must move into love, and in doing so we make it an active choice rather than an intellectual one.

We’ve heard the call to choose love over fear.

Has it worked for you? Because I’ll admit I’m starting to get that choosing isn’t enough.

And so I did, mostly because I pride myself on walking my talk, but also because I reached out and asked for help.

Some time ago, I began thinking about shooting video, but every time I thought of it my entire being clenched, gripped by the fear of putting myself out there in a new way.

It felt dangerous and vulnerable.

I let myself feel the fear, and I even began to question it, examining it from various angles.

One day I found myself reaching out and asking a friend for support. He was brilliant in that he didn’t just give me advice on how to make videos.  He showed up on my doorstep with his equipment and proceeded to record our conversation for two hours.

Two hours of facing my fear, and moving into love.

Two hours of talking about love and fear and freedom, and other topics I’m passionate about.

At some point I realized I’d almost forgotten about the cameras I was so into our conversation.

I realized that love and fear can’t coexist.

We can never feel them at the same time. It’s impossible.

I realized that choosing love is only the first step.

Moving into love must follow, an ongoing practice that breathes life into us when we most need it.

In saying yes to doing the video, I chose love over fear.

In sharing it here with you, I move into love once again.

Because to keep this to myself goes against how I want to live my life.

I want you to get, just like I did, that I’m OK exactly the way I am.

If I want to help others reclaim their freedom, I have to make the move into love, over and over and over again.

It’s not a one-time thing.

And I am reminded of Marianne Williamson’s prayer,

Dear God,

Help me today to choose love over fear, that I might work miracles for myself and others. Where I am tempted to attack or defend, please guide my mind to a gentler place.

Amen.  

Don’t Give Up

 

It’s darkest before the dawn.

It’s a cliché, but it’s also the truth, and similarly breakdowns usually precede the greatest breakthroughs.

breakdown, [noun]
a breaking down, wearing out, or sudden loss of ability to function efficiently.

We resist the breakdown, seeing it as failure, a judgment of who we are and what we’re capable of.

But maybe you’re just worn out. Maybe seeing it from this perspective would help you be more loving, more compassionate with yourself.

When the breakdown happens we feel desperate, lost, afraid, and one more action, one more try feels Herculean.

This is the moment that tests us beyond what we think is possible, because in this moment it seems the only path is to stop, quit, let go of the dream.

This is the moment to face your fear – the one that crowds everything else out of your mind, body, and spirit.

Don’t give up.

You’re not beaten yet.

“I wanted to teach myself some life lessons at the age of 60 and one of them was that you don’t give up.” – Diana Nyad

Let the turmoil within you stoke the fire of your emotions to fuel your next step, even if it feels small.

Do what you have to do to feel good, even if only for moments at a time.

Your dreams and desires deserve this effort.

Don’t give up.

Ask for what you want.

Ask for support.

Ask again.

Just don’t give up.

 

* it takes strength to be gentle and kind: photo credit – Nicole (Briant) Melton

Feeling Joy, Finding Ananda

 

In grade 2, my best friend was Barb, a girl of Scottish descent who loved books, reading, creativity, and play.

We were devoted to each other, and spent most of our free time together.

Picture two pigtailed girls, devouring books, dreaming dreams, and writing stories together.

I loved her with all of my 7-year-old heart, and was shattered when her family moved away.

We promised to keep in touch, and for a couple of years we did but it was hard. Her new neighbourhood seemed so far away, much too far to navigate by bike or by bus on our own.

But for those years we lived one street apart?

Our friendship consisted of total devotion to each other, and joy at our shared interests.

It was bliss.

Which got me thinking about happiness.

Ananda Hum doodle with pen, ink, and Pixlr

Deepak Chopra (and many wisdom traditions) say that happiness is our true nature.

I knew that as a child; I think we all do.

As an adult however, my skeptical brain sometimes gets in the way of this truth, and I question the joy that was once so natural and normal.

“Happiness is part of who we are. Joy is the feeling.” ― Tony DeLiso

As I begin another round of meditation with the Chopra Center, I’m thinking of joy and happiness and how elusive they can sometimes be. 

And I wonder…

What would it take to return to that state of joy?

For me it would take embracing happiness as a way of being.

No striving or earning necessary.

People don’t talk about bliss. I think we worry that it seems selfish.

Who am I to want bliss when so much of the world is at war, and suffering?

But wanting to feel happiness is not selfish; it is a human desire to return to the essence of our true nature.

Joy

Bliss

Happiness

Happiness is our true nature; all I have to do is think back to those days with my best friend Barb to remember.

I also think it takes a commitment, for in the busyness of life, we forget – I know I do.

 

 

Choose love, and have it be that simple.

Crush your fear.

Become fearless.

An inspiring rallying cry in the personal development world.

Or is it?

Does it really motivate you to hear “be fearless,” when time after time your dreams and desires are shut down by fear? Or does the call to fearlessness leave you in doubt that you could ever be that bold?

Just because we hear something a lot doesn’t make it right or true, or even helpful. That it is believed and widespread doesn’t make it useful or effective in the reality of day-to-day living.

Because the truth I’ve learned is that becoming fearless isn’t the point; nor is mastering your fear.

That’s just ego talking, doing it’s best to stop you.

Fear has its uses – survival for one – and it keeps us from doing stupid things, but the thing we don’t often hear is that fear can even lead you to a positive outcome.

What if leaning into your fear is what sets you free? 

Hard to believe? Challenging your beliefs? Stay with me.

When I launched my business almost 15 years ago, I was afraid.

When I got married after heartbreak in my first relationship, I was terrified.

When I learned how to scuba dive, I was so scared I could hardly breathe.

When I faced a video camera for the first time? Heart-racing, deer-in-headlights fear.

I was wracked with fear every single time.

I certainly didn’t ‘crush it’ or eliminate fear from my life. Instead, I tested it, leaning in to see where it would lead me.

That video recording I mentioned?

Yeah, that happened recently, and I can still hardly believe I did it.

For some time, I’ve thought of doing video, every time coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me.

I’m not a video person.
I don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera.
I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.

A few my logical reasons for saying no.

Then I asked myself what was choosing to say no – love or fear?

Fear – deep and dark – a fear of being seen in a new way. Exposed. Vulnerable. I wanted to run and hide, get away from my discomfort.

So I did the opposite, leaning into it as far as I could. And the most amazing thing happened.

Love showed up and said yes.

Choose Love: photo credit - Sandi Amorim

Love for my work, and connecting to people.

Love for the friend who offered to record my first video, and help me face my fear.

Love for myself, and my desire to keep growing and stretching beyond what I think is possible.

I chose love, and it said yes.

Two hours flew by while we talked about life, and vulnerability, and why the general advice to be fearless is fucked. I talked about how scared I was to do this with him.

Two hours of recording that showed me that being afraid and being filmed (or being afraid while being filmed) was something I could lean into rather than avoid.

Instead of crushing fear, I chose love.

Can it be that simple?

Yes.

Simple, and not always easy, but I’m willing to practice.

Choose love, and have it be that simple.

 

p.s. Video to come, so stay tuned.

 

Get Off the Stage (a lesson in change)

The more I work with the process of change, the more I think we all need to lighten up.

We’ve just crossed the mythical 21 day marker in the 100 Day Promise and things are getting interesting.

Two important things have become clear:

  • Consistency helps you focus on what’s important.
  • Devotion keeps your heart fully engaged.

Because the process of change is a bit more maze than labyrinth.

It’s easy to slip, take a wrong turn, and find yourself back at the beginning.

That’s when we most want to give up.

We forget that a slip is just a slip unless we give it meaning.

Give up the meaning, and take another step forward, and another…until suddenly you’ve created a pattern of consistency.

“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviour, and our behaviour can change our outcomes.” – Amy Cuddy

You can change your outcomes.

Instead of getting pulled in by the emotions and drama of a slip, notice them as an observer.

Take in all the details, nod your head in sympathy and say, “Isn’t that interesting…”

Laugh at yourself. Let go of significance.

Lighten the fuck up.

You don’t always have to have the starring role in the drama of your life.

You can choose to walk off the stage.

Kinepolis cinema hall: photo credit - Anna

 

 

The Art of Defining Negative Space

In art school I was taught to look at negative space as simply the space between the objects I wanted to draw or paint.

No judgement. No right or wrong.

Just space – the area in between objects or parts of an object, for example, the area between the zebra’s legs. It’s also the space between an object and the edges of the canvas, i.e. the space surrounding the zebra. 

Zebra Legs Red

Negative space is simply the area not occupied by the object.

Which got me thinking about negative space in life.

What if we took the view that it’s space not yet occupied by our desires?

We are hardwired for negativity, so this shift may be a challenge.

Eckhart Tolle said, “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” 

It takes letting go of the judgment you have of the negative that shows up in your life.

Curse if you must, then move on.

Choose to see the negative as space.

“What does one do with experience? Do we react negatively, or do we (pro)create from the space of positivity?” – T.F. Hodge

Choose to take back your power and reclaim your freedom.

Choose to acknowledge the energy between you and the things you want.

It’s there. It happened.

Now choose.

 

 

 

Take What You Need

Take What You eed

“What do your words, your heart and art, need?” she asked.

When you ask questions for a living as I do, it’s easy to forget to ask yourself and like the cobbler’s children I sometimes go without.

In taking care of others, we ignore or suppress what we ourselves need so very much.

What do you need? 

For me, there are essential ingredients to this recipe of need. They are simple, and yet often just beyond my reach in the busyness of life.

time

silence

depth

touch

laughter

Because I need them, I expect them to be there naturally, auto-magically. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

My need calls for devotion, but that’s only part of it for as Isabel Abbott reminds me,

Devotion is not the answer, or any answer. It is orientation, a way of being in the world, of giving ourselves over to belonging to life, and letting life love us. It is a way of being here.

Here, where we might take our legion hearts and choose this life, again and again and again.

Again and again and again.

Ahh, sweet life, you bring me back to choice once more.

Taking care of our needs is a choice, but it’s not a one-time thing.

It’s the daily act of checking in with heart and soul, while giving the head a break.

Because it’s easy to ask what the head needs, and it’s quick to give a reply, an opinion, a judgment, usually focused on some aspect of survival.

Which is good except for this one important truth…

Your survival is rarely at stake.

Even during the most challenging, wrenching times of your life, your survival was rarely an issue.

Telling the truth about that will lead you back to your heart where your deepest needs are waiting.

“What do your words, your heart and art, need?” she asked.

My words need time and space.

My heart needs love, always love.

My art needs to remember.

Telling the truth changes everything.

 

*Inspired by Isabel Abbott’s: heat – 27 days of creative burn

 

On Devotion & Walking the Path

de·vo·tion 

(n) profound dedication; consecration; dedicate by a vow, promise solemnly

Visakha Bucha (Vesak) 4, Siam Square, Bangkok, Bangkok

What are you devoted to?

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” – Mitch Albom

Devotion has been on my mind and in my heart as I lead the 100 Day Promise.

Devotion as a Way of Living & Loving

I love the idea of devotion, but as a way of life it seems altruistic and out of reach.

Women are generally conditioned to take care of others, but it often comes with a feeling of obligation or responsibility.

What might happen if we shifted from taking care of others to being devoted?

Mother Meera comes to mind; a woman believed to be the embodiment of the Divine Mother on earth.

And I wonder,

From her site,

“Mother Meera has no interest in conversion or in changing anyone’s faith or creed. This is simply irrelevant for her.  She is simply a Divine Mother for everyone who turns to Her. “

Insight: The difference between being devoted to something and giving up your life is perspective. Create a context that’s worth showing up for every day and you’ll give up nothing.

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Devotion as the Foundation of Community

When we come from the heart life is simple; come from the head and things get complicated.

It’s easy to fixate on the minutiae and complexity of daily life, but devotion can’t exist in that space.

Devotion demands getting out of your head.

The best communities I’ve experienced thrive in simplicity and clarity of focus. Usually that’s because they’re devoted to an empowering mission. They may not use the language of devotion, but they are single-minded about their vision and what they’re here for.

Like electricity, the Light is everywhere, but one must know how to activate it. I have come for that.” – Mother Meera

Insight: When you devote yourself to a cause, make a vow or promise, you make space for clear actions that come from the heart.

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Devotion as the Path to Purpose & Meaning 

This is what life is about. Creating something out of nothing, leaving a piece of yourself in the process; a legacy that lives beyond your existence.

Where does purpose and meaning come from?

It’s not out there somewhere waiting to be found. True purpose comes from within.

Insight: If you make a promise to yourself to live the way you want to live, devoted to a purpose of your creation, your reasons and circumstances for why you can’t do what you want disappear.

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Devotion as an Act of Creation

My own 100 Day Promise began as a practice of writing every day, but it became clear very quickly that I needed more than a commitment.

When I began to see my writing practice as a devotion to the act of creating, my resistance fell away, and I was left with space. In that space my writing flourished, words and ideas flew from my mind to my fingertips in abundance.

Insight: The context you create makes a dramatic difference to how you show up. Giving my writing the context of devotion changed it from something I told myself I should do every day to a practice that has ignited my creativity.

“Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day.” – Nicholas Sparks

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Devotion as Ritual

Even tasks of our choosing become repetitive if we’re not present and mindful. 

But when we bring ritual to the doing, the energy of the act changes to one of ceremony.

What might devotion as ritual look like?

When I began experimenting with this, I found that auditory rituals were important to me and I found myself drawn to chanting and mantras. I love how Sanskrit mantras sound and how they make me feel, connecting me more deeply to how I want to feel in my life – cherished, sacred, free. 

My initial curiousity became a daily practice, a way of starting each day intimately connected to myself.

Insight: When you find the right practices – the ones that resonate with your soul – routine becomes ritual, and  repetition turns into devotion.

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Devotion as a way of living.

This path is one of integrating what I love and what I’m devoted to with my everyday life and ordinary activities.

Because everything offers an opportunity for devotion.

What’s your experience of devotion? Share your thoughts.

 

 

Your Resistance is a Sign

Resistance comes up when you decide to change something about yourself.

You create a goal, or make a promise bigger than you know yourself to be, and resistance comes up because in that moment your identity is threatened.

A part of you must die in order for the new part – the change – to come to life.

This is the journey of resistance.

Don’t try to fix it, or change it. Let it be, and let it move through you.

It can’t stay with you unless you feed it.

“Your resistance is a sign that your system is reconfiguring itself toward success.” – Todd Herman

Notice it, yes, because it’s there. Then turn your attention to what you want.

Commit each day to one action in service to your desire, and do what you need to do to feel how you want the outcome to feel.

Deep in the work of creating a new program, I’ve developed practices to fuel my promise, and ease my resistance.

Because that’s all there is to do.

Day by day, resistance lessens and my promise deepens, filling in areas of my being I didn’t know existed.

“When you surrender, the problem ceases to exist. Try to solve it, or conquer it, and you only set up more resistance.” – Henry Miller

It’s a tricky dance: surrender to it without trying to fight or change it.

It takes practice.

Like true mastery always does.