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.

 

Exploring the Source of Intention

 

A guest post from Lenke Sifko. It has been a privilege to work with her and she generously agreed to share something she wrote after one of our conversations. 

It is no secret to me, I know that intention is clearly a big player in the attainment of my goals, and the creation of the life I want to lead. Intention is the foundation for which these visions, goals and dreams are built. Now well along this road, sometimes by years, sometimes by progress and sometimes by curious digression, I find myself once again engaging in a new connection with my personal, creative and vocational dreams.

This day begins with an electricity in the air of my inner landscape.

I feel as though I am standing in the path of a rare and enigmatic breeze.

I sit down on the side of the road.

I my thoughts drift to pondering “the how” of how I create my intentions. I find my awareness moving in a new direction, to a place that takes me back further, to thinking about what comes before intention —to the source from which I create my intentions.

Source — “a thing or place from which anything comes, arises, or is obtained.”

This opens up thoughts about creation, and the difference between creating FOR and creating FROM. I realize that I have so often created my intentions “for” something.

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Post Cards from Someday

 

postcards from Maui

If someday sent you a postcard, what would be on it?

 

When I first saw the title of Andrea Olson’s guest post I had my doubts. I thought, “Doesn’t she know how I feel about someday?” But then I read the post and realized she does know and she’s got a unique spin on it that she shares in today’s guest post. 

When I was a teenager, I read a work of fiction re-imagining Charles Darwin’s journey to the Galapagos Islands. I tumbled so deeply into the story that I felt I was there; observing the wildlife, feeling the sweat run down my back under the heat of the equatorial sun, making notes in a battered leather notebook.

Upon finishing the book, I said to my mom, “Someday, I’m going to go to the Galapagos Islands.” She merely nodded and continued folding the laundry.

Fast-forward some twenty years. I’m standing before a large cardboard box that holds the contents of my career as a lawyer. Random papers. Chewed up pencils. A plaque that describes my many wonderful attributes as the employee of the month. A half-eaten Snickers bar.

I have just quit my job. After many fits and starts, I’ve finally admitted to myself that I do not want to practice law. I simply don’t like it and I’m not doing it again. Nope. Never.

Despite my resolve never to practice law again, I have no idea what I’m going to do next. Even more frightening, I have no idea what I want to do next. None what-so-ever.

That is when someday sweeps in to save me.

An oversized post card arrives in the mail describing a trip to the Galapagos Islands, leaving in two weeks.

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The Power of Focus (or How Happiness is Like Mountain Biking)

mountain bike on red dirt road

Melissa Dinwiddie shares an excerpt from her e-book Creating Happiness: 9 Essential Secrets for Creative People (and Everybody Else). Melissa is one of the most creative people I know and I’m delighted to have her here while I’m on vacation. Aloha!

A trek up a mountain on a borrowed bike taught me a lot about how shifting focus, even just a fraction of an inch, can radically alter your ride through life.

A few years ago, I went mountain biking on Mount Tamalpais, a mountain east of the famous San Francisco Bay.

As it was my first time actually biking on anything other than pavement, I was fortunate to have a companion for the day who worked as a volunteer coach for a high school mountain bike team. He gave me a lot of tips on how to get up the mountain while staying vertical, and perhaps more importantly, how to get back down.

To any veteran mountain biker, our trail was such a novice one that it would be utterly boring. To me, who was a novice biker at the time, it seemed impossibly rocky. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that the tip I remember most from that day was how to avoid those throw-you-off-your-bike stones that invariably seem to appear right where your wheel is aimed.

The secret?

Don’t look at the rock; look at the clear spot next to it.

How many times, I wondered, had I been toodling around the neighborhood on my bike, and ridden right over the thing—stone, pine cone, crack in the pavement—I was most wanting to avoid?

As my mountain bike coach explained, your wheel will automatically go where you look, so if you look at the rocks while riding, that’s exactly where you’ll go. If you shift your gaze an inch over to look at the clearing, however, you’ll “magically” avoid those nasty bike-tumbling rocks.

It’s not really magic, of course. And it’s an idea that you can apply to more than mountain biking.

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How Uncertainty Became My CEO

 

The Aloha Guest Posts: While I’m away on vacation a few of my extraordinary friends will be keeping the fire stoked, sharing their wisdom and enthusiasm for living out loud. First up is Padma Maxwell of Get Your Thrive On who’s walking her talk, following her own dreams wherever they take her and as you’ll see she’s not always sure where that is!

 

Uncertainty consistently showed up at my door unexpected and uninvited. Yet, when I’d open the door, she didn’t say anything, she just stared at me. She was by far the most unsocial and unfriendly neighbor I had. I was always intimidated when I’d see her and unsure how to even hold a conversation with her.

She’d sit on her front porch watching the neighborhood go about their routines with a glare of “I told you so” in her eyes.

One afternoon, I was struggling with some heavy machinery in my garden and no one offered to help, except for Uncertainty. She came to my aid and devised an alternate solution to tilling my flowerbed. She was silent but offered her full attention and effort.

I had no idea how hard Uncertainty was willing to work to help out a stranger.

So, I invited her over for a home-cooked meal.  After a bottle of Cab Sauvignon, I shared with her my secret idea for a documentary project.

woman made of puzzle piecesI was a little embarrassed because it was after all, just an idea; a crazy one at that.

I knew nothing about films, cameras or managing a project.

She didn’t laugh or tell me how unrealistic it was going to be to pull it off.

Quite shockingly, her response were four words that changed my life. . .

“Let’s do this together.”

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What It Takes to Commit to Optimal Health

 

The Homage to Self-Care continues with a guest post from my friend Farnoosh Brock, one of the most inspiring people I know when it comes to well-being and living well. 

 

What does it take to commit to the kind of exercise routine you have? What stops people from keeping their word once they begin?

My friend Sandi throws these questions at me casually, as though she is asking if I’d like some wine and soft music. So what does it really take to wake up at 4:30am after only 5 hours of sleep – I tend to work till at least 11:00pm and even then I am tearing myself away and forcing my mind to shut down for a while – and to drive in the dark (and soon, cold) to go to a hard-core 5:45am class 5 days a week? What does it take to do it twice some days, with an evening cycling routine thrown in?What does it take for you to stick to it?

I am tempted to repeat my husband and say insanity. I am tempted to echo my most recent promise to myself, which is that I have got to have Demi Moore’s body at 48: Drop Dead Gorgeous, and believe me when I say that there are just a handful of celebrities I worship. I am even tempted to credit my fantastic self-discipline.

Ah, rubbish! None of that works at 4:30am!

To be honest, it all started with a deep-rooted fear and one I am not ashamed to admit: that of growing weak, of losing muscle mass, of losing my stamina and flexibility and agility, of losing my intense and boundless energy someday, of not begin able to catch my breath after a flight of stairs, and of getting fat – yes, I said fat, not obese, not overweight, but just FAT – and of feeling old. Quite simple: paranoia!

Then a funny thing happened: the intense exercise, deep yoga practice, and meditation came to rescue me from my paranoia state.

Farnoosh Brock in backbend

Not only have they restored me physically with a fit, strong, healthy body; they have also assuaged the fear and taught me to accept that aging is a fact of life and to learn to do it gracefully and slowly.

And that is fantastic! That alone makes me want to tell you to go out there and commit fully to a regimen and never think about giving up.

 

But another thing started to happen: I started to see far more productivity, more creativity, and more energy, more drive toward my goals and dreams everyday.

I started to think about more ideas, and I became tougher in the face of failure and disappointment and soon, the irrational fear that brought me here started to disappear. I admit, there was even a period of a couple of months where I experimented with my productivity by slowing down my intense exercise greatly so I could “work harder” and I am convinced that was a poor decision in hindsight. Now, after re-committing to my old routine of intense exercise, my body has never felt stronger and happier.

The main problem is this: you underestimate what a healthy and strong body can really do for you.

You don’t attain optimal health so that you just grow to a very old age or avoid doctors and hospitals. No! It is much more than that.

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The Ultimate Approach to Self-Care

 

The Homage to Self-Care continues with a much needed perspective on care of the mind, from my favourite inner explorer, Sandra Pawula of Always Well Within. 

 

The ultimate way to care for your self is to make friends with your own mind.

Why? Because the mind is the creator of happiness and the creator of suffering; the creator of goodness and the creator of harm. How you experience your world – your internal world and the external one – all depends on how you perceive.

[pullquote]”There’s nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet[/pullquote]

Who’s the Boss?

Simply said, there are three avenues through which we create happiness or suffering for ourselves and others: the body, the speech, and the mind. But which one is the boss?

I’ll let you in on the secret right away. It’s the mind that’s running the show.

You might say, “Hey, wait a minute. I suffer because my body hurts. Isn’t it the body that’s the culprit?”

But it’s not the pain sensation itself that determines how we perceive it. A prime example in mainstream medicine is the way that pioneers like Jon Kabat-Zinn are teaching mindfulness meditation as a highly effective pain reduction technique. You don’t have to be a meditation master to see the beneficial effects. Mindfulness meditation is a safe form of medicine that works extraordinarily well when it comes to pain reduction and improving other types of illness for ordinary people like you and me.

Biofeedback is another mechanism through which we can manipulate physiological functions and control processes like brain waves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate, and pain perception with the mind.

So it’s not the body that’s in control. The mind is powerful and can indeed transform our perception of physical experience. But it does take training.

When it comes to speech, what you say is entirely up to you and is determined only by your mind – unless you happen to be controlled by demons! Your words are the result of your thoughts and emotions.

Of course, there are times when you “speak without thinking.” But even so the words didn’t appear out of thin air. They’re the result of your own habitual patterns of thinking, emoting and responding which have created specific neuronal circuits in your brain. Exciting breakthroughs in modern science show us that these confused neuronal pathways can be redesigned as we consistently change our patterns of thought and action.

So back to mind.

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Reclaiming SELF-ish!

 

The Homage to Self-Care continues with a guest post from my Self-ish friend and awesome coach Rita Kampen.

 

Given the choice of becoming more selfish or more selfless I suspect I know which one you’d assume you’re supposed to pick. I mean, come on – this stuff has been drilled in since before we could talk.

Suzy, don’t be so selfish, share with your sister!

And  it worked and we’ve learned to share, and when we don’t, we feel guilty. But why do so many of us feel unsatisfied, unhappy and just plain confused about how to navigate our own lives and our relationships?

I am proposing that we take the distorted definitions of selfishness and selflessness and bend them back so we can see more clearly.

Are you ready for the twist? This will only hurt your brain for a second.

I say it’s time to be more Self – ish!

Yup, you heard me right!

graffiti word selfish

Definition: in the spirit of ‘ish’ (the housework is done-ish, come by at ten-ish) so that SELF-ish is actually closer to the vicinity of Self, being in tune with what the Self needs and desires; getting into the ballpark of our unique gifts and offerings so we can get in the game we were intended to play.

And to complete the twist, I declare that it’s high time we stop being Self-less.

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Being With What Is

 

Guest post by Rita Chand – Sharing the being part of human being.

 

I’d just hung up the phone with Sandi after calling her to help me deal with something. She had asked if I was up to writing something about this experience I was having, that it was something her readers could probably relate to. I love Sandi so saying no to her isn’t an option. Little did I know I’d be inspired to write something as soon as I hung up the phone. But she’s good like that.

[pullquote]“There is the risk you cannot afford to take and there is the risk you cannot afford not to take”. ~ Peter Drucker[/pullquote]

On Monday, I found out I didn’t get a job that I really really REALLY wanted. The process lasted a month, the job was exciting and amazing and it was everything I wanted. Everything I’d been talking about for quite some time. Happiness couldn’t be found sitting at my desk day after day anymore – I needed more, desired so much more. And this job offered it.

But, I didn’t get it. After all that, someone else did.

And it’s okay. . .ultimately it is.

It wasn’t meant to be.

There are bigger, BETTER things out there for me.

It’s her loss.

And all the other platitudes that people say to make us feel better. They want to help so they say what they know to say. I appreciate that. But we all know it doesn’t help. None of those things help. And I think we know that too. God bless people for being so awesome.

My friends are sad for me. . .well actually, most of them are just sad that I am sad. They didn’t want me to move away, so some have shared they are relieved.

So yes, it is okay. Ultimately.

Does it feel okay? No. Did I cry for 2 days after? Yes.

Even at the gym. I just cried. I’m disappointed. Heartachingly, gut wrenchingly disappointed.

sculpture in dejected pose

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do disappointment very well.

In fact (don’t tell anyone I said this) I think disappointment is one of the worst emotions to deal with. I’d rather be pissed off. Or better still, indifferent. I can do those really well.

But to sit in my own disappointment. . .forget it.

Disappointment is like the cooties of feelings. There’s nothing redeeming about disappointment. It just downright sucks.

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Evolution of A Story

 

Guest post from Rachael Acklin sharing the evolution of her story.

 

I’ve been making up stories about myself since I was a child.

I used to pretend that I lived in Middle Earth, and that the woods behind my house were full of elves.

sunlight in forestI used to climb trees and pretend that I lived out there and could fall asleep on a branch and not fall down.

As I grew older, and had a boyfriend, I told myself that I was boring and not very pretty, because a sixteen-year-old boy found me rather bland.

When I was in my twenties, I told myself that romance wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and that a husband who came home every night was better than excitement.

Later when he left me, I told myself that I was used and damaged and nobody would ever want me.

But I also told myself that I was capable of taking care of my two little kids on my own, and that I didn’t need anyone else.

Then a year or so later I decided I did need someone else, and I pretended I was happy that way.

It’s taken me years of pain and heartache, along with beautifully sunny days full of smiles and laughter and the love of my children, to see that so many of the stories I’ve told myself are pure and utter bullshit.

And that I can leave them behind, not just to write a new story, but to see myself for who I really am.

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