How to quieten that inner-critic and deal with the fear of judgement.
The person who you spend the most time with in your life is YOU, so it's important to learn to speak kindly to yourself and respect yourself in the same way you respect others.
This isn't always easy. We are often (if not always) our own worst critic and we can become guilty of habitually projecting our own self doubts on to what we think others might think of us. I'm guilty as charged!!
And of course, the truth is, there WILL always be people who judge you, or don't understand your path.
Remember, it's not for them to understand.
This can be hard to handle and face up to, particularly if you have a propensity towards people pleasing. It has become even harder in this online world to avoid the judgement of others, because it is so much easier for people to sit in their armchairs, behind their screens and judge things they know nothing about or don't understand, (let's be honest, we've all done it!) But avoidance never really gets us anywhere....
Authenticity. Courage. Vulnerability.
In order to share our story, to pursue a goal, to help others, and to live a life that's true to ourselves, we have to make a decision. A decision to be brave, to be authentic and to be vulnerable. It takes courage.
Does that decision make the fear, the self doubt and the inner critic silent? I'm afraid not. But by checking in with your intentions and the reason for your decision, it can help quieten it, soften it, and for it to be easier to negotiate with.
It's difficult and it's something I struggle with everyday. For example, the very idea of posting a blog, delivering a workshop or giving a talk can fill me with self-doubt or fear of judgement from others, but the result is always worth the initial fear. And the alternative is living your life to the beat of someone else's drum....and often these are people whose opinions we give far too much gravitas to!
How can you help yourself?
If we spoke to other people the way we speak to ourselves, we'd be called a bully and be expelled from school! So why is it acceptable to speak to ourselves this way? I guess it's because only we know what's going on in our heads. We are our own gatekeepers and it seems we're not always doing a very good job of it.
Here are ten strategies that help me when I find myself being fearful of the opinions of others or being self-critical, judgemental and doubting of myself. I hope they help you too.
Ask yourself, what would your best friend say to you? Speak to yourself as your best friend would speak to you.
Similarly, consider what advice you would offer a friend in your situation. I'm sure you'd be kinder, more supportive and have more confidence in their abilitIes. Apply this to yourself. Be your own best friend.
Check in with your intentions. If your intentions are good, stop doubting yourself. Focus on the intention. Revisit your intention to check it's still valid
Try reframing your language in times of self-doubt, criticism or judgement. Consider how you can change your negative self talk to positive and how you can soften your inner voice. Here are a few of my favourite little phrases, which I often use to help me through challenging times: - It too shall pass. - I can handle it. - It doesn't REALLY matter. - What's the worst that could happen? - Start where you are. - "There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing and be nothing" - Aristotle. There are many more! I'll let you decide when and how to apply them.
Go outside - reconnect with nature. Reconnecting with nature and taking some time to disconnect from technology can help to put those doubts into perspective.
Connect to the present through mindful practice and meditation. Being mindful ensures you stay present. Often our fears and worries are created by our mind predicting a worst case scenario future, or from making assumptions.
What's real? Is what you're telling yourself true? Or is it a story your mind has created through fear and worry? See strategy 6.
If someone is criticising or judging you, ask yourself; "What difference does their approval or disapproval make to who you really are?" - Eckhart Tolle.
Focus on progress not perfection. Practise kindness and gratitude towards yourself. Be perfectly imperfect.
Awareness is the key. By heightening your awareness and then starting to notice the patterns of people pleasing, self-judgement, procrastination and negative assumptions, we create a space between the situation and our response to the situation. This is where we can regain our control and see things as they really are, rather than how our over-active, negative thought patterns would have us believe.
As I've said before, this isn't a quick fix and it isn't easy. Often these thought patterns are so ingrained it takes hard work and determination to break them or regain some control, but it is possible. Step-by-step. With compassionate self-awareness.