Love is a gift – a gift God gives to us – a gift we give to ourselves –
a gift we give to others. If we have no love for ourselves,
we will find it very difficult to love another.
We will go through the motion of duty-bound traditions,
but duty is not love.
Life is going great when bam! The earth quakes and a landslide comes tumbling down, burying everything you had worked so hard on.
And without warning, as if on some internal cue, you are assaulted with doubts and misgivings. Buried under an avalanche, hidden from view, out of sight are all the things you have accomplished. You no longer consider and appreciate all the things you have done and are capable of doing. The rubble is not just life happening, it is a reminder of the bad choices you made and how inadequate you are.
In the blink of an eye, an old and unwanted visitor has just returned.
The voice is loud and clear. “You just won’t learn – you will never amount to anything, no matter how hard you try.”
On and on it goes, regurgitating messages from your past. You’ve heard it all before. Your unwanted internal critic has just showed up at your doorstep once again.
Each time you listen, however, this internal critic’s voice gets louder and more persistent. Over the years your critic has collected all the dismissive and disparaging messages and strung them together into an internal audio tape. When things start going wrong, the play button is automatically pushed.
But, if difficulties can push the play button, we can push the stop button.
Who is this internal critic and where did it come from?
We liken this internal demeaning dialogue to that of an internal critic because the messages are always negative. They are pessimistic, belittling and discouraging.
This internal critic has been around a long time and it has nothing of value to tell you. Unless challenged, it will be relentless. Here are some things you might hear your critic say:
- Why do you always do such stupid things?
- Won’t you ever learn?
- What’s wrong with you?
- If others knew how incompetent you are, they would have nothing to do with you
- Why can’t you be like your sister or brother?
- You’ll never amount to anything.
The job of our critic is to remind us of all the reasons why we fail or can’t succeed so don’t even bother trying. It has recorded all the times you failed in the past or were told by someone in authority that you were a failure.
It combines labels and judgmental words spoken over the years, playing them repeatedly in your head until it becomes a self-proclaimed truth. If I am continually reminded, then it must be true – right? Wrong!
If you are being bombarded with useless diatribe, it might be time to do something about it. We know it is important to pay attention to our emotional responses. But stop and listen to what you are hearing.
How does what your critic keeps repeating over and over help you rise above or solve your problems?
Do you want to keep listening to this soliloquy or are you ready to put a new recording on?
Stop – Consider – Start a New Soundtrack
If you have had enough, then let’s push the STOP button and start a new recording of affirmations. Affirmations are encouraging and motivating statements that direct us toward a positive outcome. They can be as simple as, “Yes I can, I have confidence in myself, I refuse to get discouraged, or “I will consider what isn’t working and replace it or I will get better information to help me find answers.”
Repeating them throughout the day can reverse the seeds of doubts, misgivings and fears. They rely on the possible instead of the impossible. They balance our need to critically think with words that help us do that.
We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. But that does not mean we can’t learn valuable lessons from them. Life can be a great and important teacher.
Doubts and fears are normal and natural. Like all emotions, they tell us something – they have a purpose. We need to pay attention. They warn us to stop and investigate before moving forward. They keep us from making knee-jerk reactions. But when doubts and fears continue to overshadow our attempts to find appropriate solutions, it is time to identify and challenge their origins and authenticity.
Because this internal critic has been around for such a long time, it will take some forceful measures to silence it.
Here are five steps to make that happen.
Step 1: Give your critic a name. Call it whatever you want. It is much easier to communicate or speak with an entity than something subjective.
Step 2: Address your critic by name. Tell it in no uncertain terms that you are tired of all the negative and destructive messages. They are not helping you solve your problems or life challenges. You will no longer listen to toxic and harmful messages.
Step 3: When you become aware of your critic sabotaging your efforts by using criticism of any kind, tell it to STOP and BE QUIET in a firm and forceful voice. You are through listening to unhealthy, degrading and demeaning comments.
Step 4: The messages from your past are a memory tape – the critic is the voice. Visualize yourself holding a remote control with a huge STOP and PLAY button on it. Whenever the PLAY button has been activated, visually see yourself pushing the STOP button.
Step 5: The taped messages along with your internal critic have been around a long time. You will have to be very compelling and insistent. If you are alone, say out loud, “STOP! I do not intend to listen to this negative stuff.” Or say “STOP” forcefully in your mind.
It’s not enough to simply stop a reaction that has become habitual. We need to replace it with something else. Replace the critical words you hear with words of affirmation.
Here are some important ones to repeat throughout the day as often as possible:
- I am capable, competent and discerning
- I accept myself unconditionally – both my strengths and weaknesses
- I am not my past
- I am able to think, evaluate and find appropriate solutions to all my problems
These are just a sample of positive affirmations. Affirmations affirm your worth, abilities, beliefs and values. They draw you towards a self-fulfilling prophecy of possibility and choice. Repeat them every day to establish a new dialogue and confidence.
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