Isn’t it time to tame your inner critic and start to live your life on purpose? I’d love to spend this month exploring, in detail, the process I’ve gone through to tame my own inner critic. It really wasn’t that difficult once I understood that how I choose to think about myself makes all the difference. I know now that what I think and feel about myself is a process of choosing – being a conscious creator – of my life. But I had to start somewhere – and I had to have tools. I couldn’t have done this just by wishing and hoping for my inner critic to vanish. It’s too stubborn, too entrenched. Once I found the key, it all fell into place.
As with anything though, we have to start at the beginning. And the beginning is bringing our awareness to the exact nature of our thoughts and feelings. The following exercise (taken directly from Chapter 2 of my book) is a great place to start. You can’t change something until you understand what it is you want to change. For the rest of February, we will tackle this topic of taming the voice that is keeping you small.
Let’s do this together – let’s make 2014 the year that we drop the internal hatred and self-deprecation and replace it with living a life full of purpose and meaning.
Come with me on this journey of discovery – uncovering your true inner wisdom and knowingness.
Your Name Web
The following exercise, “Who Do You Think You Are?” will help to bring your core life story to the surface of your awareness so that you can examine it, keep the powerful statements that work for you, and let go of those parts that no longer serve you. In this exercise, we use a technique often called “mind-mapping”—a way of jotting down free associations. You’ll refer to this exercise over and over again, so you might want to highlight these instructions and record your initial work in your journal or on a piece of paper so that you’ll be able to easily retrieve your work for future reference.
Exercise 2.1: Who Do You Think You Are? (The Name Web)
- Draw a circle in the middle of the page and write your name in that circle. Now, start writing down your associations with this word. Do this by drawing lines moving outward from your name. An association is any word or phrase that pops into your mind when you think about yourself.
- Record both the positive and negative associations. You may find that a word triggers connections to other words or ideas. Write these down too, allowing one idea to flow freely into the next.
- When you run out of associations, return to the center circle with your name in it and see what happens. Do this exercise quickly; don’t edit your thoughts. Your name web (or mind map) will look something like a spider web with all kinds of lines and words moving out from the center.
- You might reflect upon:
- what you like most about being you
- some of your mother’s favorite phrases she used in describing you
- some of the descriptive words you use to describe yourself, such as being too shy, too short, or really clumsy
- phrases that your inner critic uses to describe you, such as, “I am so dumb,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m afraid they’ll find out my secret”
- phrases your best friend might use to describe you, such as, “You’re so compassionate,” “You listen well,” “You always say exactly what you mean”
- After you’ve finished, you’ll have something that looks like a big web or net. Some associations form clusters full of descriptive words, others will stand alone.
- Draw circles around the words with a repetitive tone or mood. You might find themes of unworthiness, resentment, or confusion. On the positive side, you might find themes of spontaneity or empathy. Other energies, such as love, health, or creativity may be mentioned. Write those repeating themes off to the side of your web.
This picture, or name web, with all of its associations and intricacies, is your personal model of how you see yourself operating in the world. This structure of knowing serves as a filter in every conversation or thought you have. Spend some time becoming conscious of how you speak and feel about yourself. Please don’t beat yourself up for having the thoughts and feelings that you do – just notice.
The next time your inner critic starts in, pause, and just witness the show. See if you can stand a little bit outside of yourself as you listen to the tirade. You will learn tools in the coming month, but the first step is always becoming conscious. So for now, be consciously aware of your internal dialog – that’s all.