Refuge from Harsh Judgement
Do you struggle with self-criticism and judgements toward self?
Do you often hear inner voices that put you down?
Do you often think about what you " should" or "shouldn't" have done?
Do you struggle to believe in positive affirmations and/or struggle to take compliments?
Do you feel there is always more to do no matter how hard you are working?
If you said yes to any of these questions, there is a chance you have a strong inner critic that is doing the most to keep you down. I call this being a refuge from harsh judgements from oneself and others. Being hard on ourselves at this level actually limits productivity rather than promotes it.
Here are 3 steps to get you started in moving from self-criticism to self-healing:
Step 1 (awareness)
Become willing to look at the beliefs that you hold that separates you from others.
We may not like our addiction, our body, our relationship status etc., but we need to keep that separate from how we see ourselves as a person.
Some common examples-
"I don't _________ like 'normal' people do".
"I am not _____" ( comparing ourselves with others and despairing).
This type of narrative keeps us down. Hear it when it comes up. Take notice to it. Write down.
Step 2 (challenge)
Get a piece of paper and a pen. Fold the paper into two halves. On the left column write "low voice" and on the right column write "high voice".
On the "low voice" section, write down all that inner critic narrative. Everything you accumulated from step 1. Get it all down on the paper.
On the "high voice" section, I want you to think of something or someone that gives you unconditional love and acceptance. If you believe in a higher power that is loving, you can use that to help guide you as well. It can be something in nature that calms you ( like waves at the beach or the shining sun). Whatever you pick, make sure it is something specific.
I want you to write down what that "higher voice" that has unconditional love towards you would say about the criticism and fears you wrote down under "low voice".
This is a great exercise to help challenge that critic voice.
Step 3 (Relationship with others)
A. Most likely if you are critical of yourself, you are critical of others.
If you are picking apart others, this interferes with you loving yourself. Unresolved anger and resentments hurts us. If you catch yourself taking inventory of someone else, for all the things they "need" to work on- STOP. This does not help us! Focus on yourself and say out loud, "bless them, change me". Focus on yourself. Focus on your part in things. Stop taking responsibility for the thoughts and actions of others. Continuously remind yourself to focus on your inventory only.
B. Be of service to others.
Seek to do good deeds. The littlest thing we can do to be of service to others can help us learn to love ourselves again. That may be helping an elderly get a seat on a subway, opening a door for someone, calling someone and asking how they are doing. Often these little gestures make a big difference. Kindness is always needed and sometimes helps us be kinder to ourselves.
*For the 'people pleasers', I do not mean saying "yes" to help someone even when you are uncomfortable, yet aiming to please them. People pleasing is a slippery slope, be mindful of this. A good question to ask yourself is "what feeds my spirit?". Often this can help us get clarity on the actions we can take to be of service rather than draining ourselves.
The inner critic may continue to replay itself. Yet now we have some tools we did not have before. We continue to practice these steps in hopes that the critic voice will lower and our reactivity and defensiveness will start to drift away.