What if you knew someone who, every time you tried something new and wobbled a bit, or expressed your perspective less than gracefully, got in your face and started berating you, yelling like a drill sergeant, red-faced and spluttering with flecks of spit.
Would you tolerate that? Probably not. But if you're like most people, you do it to yourself at least some of the time.
As I often say, we are our own worst obstacles when it comes to creating a rich, meaningful lives for ourselves. And one of the ways we get in our own way is by being unkind and critical. Sometimes it's just a passing negative judgment. Other times it's full-on drill sergeant mode.
However it manifests, it gets in the way of your stepping into your full potential. it limits you, reinforces doubt, and tears you down.
I started to think about the obstacles we often create when I read this blog post on how to be kind to yourself. There are some good ideas there. I would like to add three more:
Celebrate your success
When you do something well, stop and take time to pat yourself on the back. Acknowledge that you just did something good. It can be as simple as stopping, closing your eyes, and spending 60 seconds to reflect on what you did and how you did it.
Or you could ratchet it up a notch and tell a comfortable friend that you want to spend a few minutes celebrating out loud, describing what you did, what went well, how you solved the problems you ran up against, etc.
The key is to create space to focus on and acknowledge the positive.
You don't need to wait for a specific accomplishment to tap into the power of self-celebration. Try celebrating yourself on a regular basis. Take stock of what you like about yourself. What do you do well? What are your gifts and skills? What are you proud of? What do other people tell you that you do well? What do people compliment you on?
Start by just making a list. Then keep adding to it over time. Challenge yourself to spend time adding to it at least each week. Then, when you start to feel down on yourself, pull it out and go through it. Or pull it out, tell a friend what's on it, and use it as a springboard for a positive conversation.
When you feel that critical voice start build up pressure, like a geyser getting ready to erupt, hit pause. I know it's hard to do, especially in the heat of the moment, but try. You might not even be able to manage more than a brief pause before the momentum of that critic spills over, but the more you practice, the more space you will be able to put between the feeling and the reaction.
In that space, try to whip out your curiosity. Ask questions. Is this really an accurate reaction? Are you doing black-and-white thinking when there are actually a full spectrum of colors in the picture? Could there be a different way to see it? What could you learn from the situation?
Pushing pause lets you take back control so your internal critic doesn't have the opportunity to get up a full head of steam.
How about you? How are you kind to yourself? How do you accentuate the positive? How do you curb that internal critic?
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The Occupational Adventure Guide:
A Travel Guide to the Career of Your Dreams
by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst