Challenging My Inner Critic with Compassion

I went to sit on my roof this morning to meditate.

I’m trying to be as present as I can with that little judgmental voice in the back of my head –- you know the one.

The voice that tells you you can’t, you’re too fat, too old, too weak. The inner critic tells a different story within each of us, but the overarching theme is usually that we are not enough as we are.

For so long I didn’t pay attention to that voice. I just acted on it as if it was the truth.

Do more. Go faster. Work harder.

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Now, with enough space to truly hear the stories my inner critic plays on repeat, I can see just how exhausting it is to try to live up to an inner standard that just won’t ever, ever be good enough.

I’m trying this thing where every time I catch myself in a negative loop (you’re not good enough/you should have learned this by now/everyone else is doing better than you are) I sit down and make myself think of 3 kind things to say about myself.

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I could hear those negative thoughts getting especially loud – so!

Here are 3 kind things I told myself this morning:

I am compassionate. I care deeply about so much and go out of my way to help and support people (and animals). I have a big heart and it shows.

I am strong. SO strong! I birthed a child. I’ve lived through so much. I can hold up the whole world if I need to.

I am a really, really good listener. One of my superpowers is my ability to be totally present with other people and show up for them fully. Infusing a loving voice when you are being hard on yourself is a doorway to peace. For me, reminding myself of some of my innate goodness helped me quiet my mind enough so that I could actually sit in silence this morning.

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I found my inner best friend and talked to her.

My three kind things were strangely hard to write and put out there, proving yet again how much time I spend focusing on where I could improve over focusing on where I am already great.

Today, I’m focusing on the good things instead of the bad.

I’m focusing on me, listening to my inner best friend, doing the hard things, moving my body, and cutting myself some slack in the process!

My inner critic told me not to run today. It’s too hard, too painful, I have to put on shoes and a bra and go sweat and I don’t like it.

It’s so hard. I know it’s good for me because I feel so damn good after I do it, but the entire process is hard.

Throughout the process I will try to cut myself some slack, be gentle with myself, and proud of myself for doing the thing I didn’t want to do. I return to the three kind things I said about myself.

Compassionate. Strong. Good Listener.

I put these thoughts on repeat as I prepare for the run.

Running is the HARDEST thing. For me anyway. It’s so hard. It’s hard the whole time.

It’s hard before – I really don’t want to do it. I have to drag myself around the house; putting on a sports bra (ugh) socks (uuuuhh), running shoes...I dread it.

I like to be barefoot and I don’t like bras and I prefer to do yoga because yoga is so easy for me and I think that’s why I’m running – I don’t know how to do it (and it’s good for us to do things we aren’t good at... I think.)

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Compassionate. Strong. Good listener.

I start running, and it’s terrible. Terrible. I don’t get to that “runner's high” place and even though I’ve been running a few times a week for a few weeks now, I don’t feel like I’m improving at all. It’s hard the ENTIRE time.

But I do it. I feel strong from my commitment to run, regardless of how hard it is. I have compassion for myself and my thoughts. I search for my inner best friend and listen as she cheers me on.

I run 5 kilometers and when I get to 3, I want to lay down or throw up or quit. But here is the magical thing: I don’t.

I don’t quit. I just do the hard thing.

I sit with the difficulty, I power through. I’m allowing myself to feel discomfort and be honest with myself that it hurts and it’s hard and I’m doing it and I don’t like it.

Repeat to self: Compassionate. Strong. Good Listener.

Then suddenly, I get to 5 kilometers and I’m done and the feeling that follows is so weirdly wonderful that it completely outweighs all the terrible parts. I don’t know how this works (explain it to me if you do!!) but the whole ordeal is totally worth it.

EVERY TIME.

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And afterward I get to lie on the ground and stretch and look at the sky and feel so so so good about myself knowing that I can do hard things. I can be kind to myself. I can allow myself to sit with the discomfort. I can hear, but not acknowledge, the inner voice that is begging me to stop.

I feel great enough after doing the thing I don’t want to do, but that I know is good for me, that I wake up the next day and do it again. I guess what I’m trying to say is …

DO THE HARD THING.

And be gentle with yourself in the process.

That thing you’re terrible at. That thing that’s good for you that’s boring or difficult or that humbles you. Have compassion for yourself in the process. Talk to your inner best friend. Make a list of things that you love about yourself and put it on repeat as you DO THE THING THAT'S HARD.

Do the thing. And tomorrow, or the next day – do it again.

What is the habit you want to cultivate that’s so damn hard for you? GO DO THAT THING.

Be kind and compassionate to yourself in the process. Listen to your inner best friend, cheer yourself on, let the inner critic speak but don’t hold space for it.

Acknowledge it, but then allow yourself to move on.

YOU GOT THIS!

Xx,

Rachel