The Art of Letting Go: Taming Your Inner Critic

The Art of Letting Go: Taming Your Inner Critic

Is your inner critic driving you crazy? Do you feel like you get in your own way sometimes? Is the way you talk to yourself sabotaging your progress, your happiness?

You can’t do it, you’re too dumb, you’re crazy, it won’t work, you’re too fat, you’re just not good enough…

Truth is, negative self-talk leads to suffering.

We often criticize and judge ourselves negatively, most of the time not even realizing it. Our judgmental mind works on autopilot – it’s our protective system, it is fear-based and automatic – it’s part of being human. And when that self-critic shows up we give her a lot of attention, feeding the negativity, deepening those brain connections, making ourselves feel small, inadequate, isolated, and broken.

Self-judgement reveals what we believe about ourselves that stops us from creating the life we want.

Truth is, our inner critic is mean, insensitive, and determined to hold us back. And the more we practice self-criticism, the rampant it gets.

Likewise, the more we practice positive self-talk, self-compassion, and intentionally affirm our worth to ourselves, the more we nurture our loving side.

So which energy do you want to bring into your life? Do you want to feed fear or do you want to feed love?

We can’t hate yourself into your best self. So why do we do it?

For most of us, our inner critic is an internalized critical parent/authority who judged, criticized or put us down. It’s part of our programming, nurturing, part of being human.

Negative self-talk is a habit we’ve picked up along the way and are now holding onto. It’s time to let go. ( tweet this)

So how do we tame this negative self-talk? And how can we use it to learn what we’re accepting or judging in ourselves?

1. Set intentions

Decide to stop negative self-talk right here right now. It doesn’t serve you. It’s self-defeating and only brings negativity into your life.

Give yourself permission to stop listening to your inner mean girl. Imagine yourself free of this nagging voice in your head and replace it with a encouraging, supportive, and healing voice. Tell your critic you don’t need her help today – you don’t need her help ever – you’ve got this.

2. Get to know our inner critic when she shows up. Be curious. Investigate it. Own it.

Whenever you notice getting down on yourself, criticizing yourself, or bullying yourself, bring awareness to it. Step back from identifying with that voice. Self-doubt might be just a part of your experience but it is not the whole. Identify the patterns so that you can diminish their power over you.

Beneath all the criticism, judgment and sabotage are vulnerable feelings like shame, anger & unworthiness. Get curious about the story you tell yourself.

Write down some of the things your inner critic says. What is it that you’re telling yourself? What are you telling others about yourself? What are you believing about yourself? What are you afraid will happen if you stand up to your inner mean girl? Why do you feel the need to criticize yourself, put yourself down, minimize yourself? What would happen if you stopped?

3. Offer yourself (and your inner critic) compassion. Then release her.

Your fears are part of you. They are also the door to your greatness. By acknowledging and owning your fears you accept that part of yourself thereby dissolving their power over you. Yes, they protected you when you were small, guarded you from threats (real and imagined), but you no longer need them now. You are an adult now, you have the power to choose your thoughts, the power to choose which thoughts to believe in, and which thoughts to let go of.

Validate your fears and the need for them in the past. Thank your inner critic for protecting you. You can say, “It’s ok, I get it, you’re just trying to keep me safe.” Thank her for her vigilance and protection. Thank her for trying to shield you from things that she believed could hurt you.

Then, tell her she’s no longer needed. Tell her you are now in charge, and you’re going to be ok. Release. Let go.

4. Affirm your worth and embrace supportive self-talk.

Use affirmations and positive statements to affirm your goodness, your okey-ness, and your personal power. Offer supportive and encouraging self-talk. Embrace your greatness by saying out loud, “I’m enough”, “I did the best I could”, “I’m ok just as I am”, “I am powerful”, “I’m beautiful”, “I’m capable”, or whatever else you think you need to hear right now.

Feel it in your body – notice how it feels to be talked to in a supportive way, how your body feels as you embrace yourself with this positive self-talk.

Change Your Mindset

Your inner critic doesn’t have to be your enemy. Look at it as the door to your transformation, a path to self-acceptance. What your inner critic draws attention to is exactly what stands in the way of your greatness. Recognize and work with it so you can move beyond its limiting grip.

Acknowledge, then release!

And be patient with yourself. It takes a lot of work to break the self-criticizing habits of a lifetime, but it’s the best thing you will ever do for yourself.

Be kind to yourself, everything else will follow!

You’re worthy of putting yourself first!

Do you struggle with self-criticism and self-judgement? Would you like to receive weekly journaling prompts to help you become more self-aware, uncover where you are stuck, and move past your fears and limitations into a more peaceful and purposeful life?

Take charge of your healing – start your journey today!

Wire Your Brain For Happiness With Mindfulness

Wire Your Brain For Happiness With Mindfulness

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

From an evolutionary perspective, happiness is not something that’s much on our radar. Instead, our minds are mostly preoccupied with looking out for danger.

This negativity bias is simply built into our brains – giving more attention to what went or will go wrong is part of our survival mechanism as humans. It’s easy to imagine, therefore, that if we let our thoughts take over, we can soon find ourselves on a slippery slope to unhappiness and despair. Yikes!

To counteract this negativity bias we have to consciously seek out the good in life, focus on joy and gratitude, linger on the positive, take in the good, be present to life’s small pleasures, do what makes us happy in the moment…

In other words, in order to be happy we need to practice happiness.

What we focus on grows.

You Can Wire Your Brain For Happiness

Did you know you have the power to encode happiness into your brain? You can literally train your brain to be happier thanks to the power of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize/rebuild itself by forming new connections.

The more we focus on and “practice” happiness, the more happiness we hard-wire into our brain. How amazing is that!

This is nothing new, though.

Throughout life, we learn all kinds of skills through practice, whether it’s walking, talking, biking, playing an instrument, cooking, negotiating, parenting, etc. – we learn by practicing, by doing.

Likewise, we can learn to be happier.

We can rewire our brain for happiness, joy and pleasure simply by practicing happiness, joy and pleasure. And, we can let the negative pathways fall away by dropping the negative habits and beliefs we’re carrying around.

And since what we practice and repeat becomes automatic, we can use the power of habit to naturally and instinctively shift our mindset from self-defeating and negative to more open and positive over time.

We can use the power of habits to wire a happier brain!

Building Happiness Habits with Mindfulness

You can nurture a happier and more resilient brain using the power of mindfulness and habit.

Mindfulness is simply awareness and acceptance of what is – and it can be our gate to happiness. Paying attention illuminates the present moment in its entirety. It allows you to show up for the good experiences you might have otherwise missed, as well as move through the hard ones.

Focusing on the little things that are going well for us at this very moment allow us to experience life wholeheartedly – we let ourselves experience the good alongside the bad. We realize our lives are complex and not as negative or even dreadful as our minds would have us believe.

We learn to savor the here and now, allowing moments of joy and pleasure in the midst of our to-do lists. We learn to see beauty underneath the everyday. Slowly, we’re more awake to life’s small pleasures, dropping constant worry and distractions from taking over our lives.

Gratitude can truly transform our lives.

But there’s more.

Mindfulness can also shed a light on how your thinking perpetuates your own misery. Understanding your thought patterns and beliefs and how they came to be can be liberating. By paying attention to your reactions and emotional responses you can begin to consciously challenge the negative thoughts and limiting belief systems that underlie them.

In other words, by noticing your habitual negative thoughts you can loosen their grip, gain control over them, and ultimately change and let go of them, raising your happiness level along the way.

The more focus you place on what makes you feel good, the easier it’ll be to manage whatever is making you feel bad.

Awareness and self-knowledge takes practice. You can get to know your unconscious beliefs and thought patterns with mindfulness journaling – writing combined with a simple mindful check-ins when we move our attention inward to listen to what’s going on inside us. This self-discovery opens the door to true happiness which can only be found within.

Unpacking those deep-seated beliefs, bringing them to light so you can work with them, changing those that don’t serve us, and rewriting/reframing your story so you can let it go, is the path to inner peace and happiness.

5 Happiness Habits to Practice Daily

Happiness is something we can practice and cultivate. We can build up a lasting sense of ease, confidence, self-acceptance, compassion, feeling loved, contentment, and inner peace through daily happiness habits. Here’s a good start:

  1. Start your day by setting intention for joy – decide to be happy on purpose.
  2. Make a list of things that make you happy and bring you joy – do more of that daily.
  3. Practice gratitude often.
  4. Love and nurture yourself from the inside out – self-love and self-care is necessary for feeling well.
  5. Practice mindfulness to strengthen your self-awareness muscles.
    Commit to practicing mindfulness – throughout the day, practice awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Be still and focus on your breath. Become aware of your body, your emotions, and what is happening at that moment. Notice sensations. Le go of your thoughts, just for a little while. Realize when you’re hijacked by your thoughts and bring yourself back to now by focusing on your breath.
    Don’t judge. The point is to notice these internal distractions and mind wanderings then bring your focus back to your breath. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

Set these habits in motion. Soon you’ll notice yourself becoming more present, grateful, and content.

Truth is, by taking control over your mind – your thoughts, how you respond and react to life, and what you focus on – we can control our experience and build more happiness into our lives!

You’re worthy of putting yourself first!

Build happiness into your brain – by wiring new paths for love, optimism and flow – through mindful journaling!

Take charge of your healing – start your journey today!

Create Healthy Habits To Grow & Heal With Mindfulness

Create Healthy Habits To Growth & Heal With Mindfulness

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~William Durant

Research suggests that most of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors happen automatically and subconsciously. Running on autopilot allows us to focus our energy on more important things. This is great, except when we unconsciously form bad habits that block our growth and make us unhappy (or unhealthy).

We are the sum total of our habits. What we repeatedly do and think becomes who and what we are.

The good news is that creating positive habits and eliminating negative ones can be the path to excellence and growth – we can use the power of habit to chart new ways by training our mind!

It’s simple, isn’t it. Simple but not easy.

Most of us strive for excellence and growth but our old habits often take over holding us back. Whether it’s negative thinking patterns that create worry and anxiety, not sleeping enough, or stress eating, we all have some habits we could do without. Truth is, our habits are hard to change. But change is possible.

Mindful Habit Change

Whether you’re trying to form a new habit or break an old one, it helps to understand how habits work. There are 3 components to a habit:

  1. Trigger – the cue that initiates the behavior
  2. Routine – the habitual behavior itself
  3. Reward – the benefit you gain from doing the behavior

Understanding this gives us plenty of opportunity to work with our habits.

We can change any negative habit by working with its trigger.

To eliminate a bad habit, start by eliminating the trigger – change the environment to change the habitual response.

If you can recognize when you’re triggered, you can choose to act differently – awareness is key.

When you mind pays attention, your brain can build new neural pathways to reinforce what you learn – this is due to your brains ability to change and adapt (neuroplasticity).

This is where mindfulness comes in – if you can notice the trigger and recognize the habitual response about to play out, you can choose a more skillful response. You can choose to do something different, but only if you’re aware.

This mindful pause is essential for changing our self-defeating behaviors and emotional habits.

For example, if you notice having a negative thought, listen but don’t react. Instead, observe the thought, then mindfully choose to let it go, instead of getting entangled and hijacked by it.

The trick is to know why you do it, recognize when it’s happening, and have an action plan for handling (or even avoiding) the trigger.

Start by asking yourself few questions about the negative habit you want to eliminate:

  • When does it happen?
  • What triggers it?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • How often you do it?

In the end, breaking a habit really means establishing a new habit (here’s a handy worksheet to help you change your habits). If you can train your brain to recognize the triggers and get curious, then you will have a chance to make the choices that run alongside your values and beliefs – mindfulness is the way.

And, remember, don’t judge or criticize yourself. Approach this investigation with compassion. The goal is to notice.

It’s never too late to break a habit; easiest way is to start recognizing the triggers and rewards that form around them.

We can build new triggers & rewards to create new healthy habits.

Creating new habits is much easier than eliminating old patterns.

The easiest way to form a habit is to pick a specific and actionable trigger (and something you already do every day), plus  follow the new habit with a positive reward. Make use of our current routines, then just add your new habit to it.

Setting intentions for the day when you sit down to drink that first cup of coffee in the morning or writing your gratitude list as soon as you get in bed are both good examples of associating specific triggers (morning coffee, getting in bed) with positive action (setting intentions, gratitude journaling).

Few points to keep in ind when building new habits:

1. Dream big but start small.

Don’t be afraid to have big goals, then find the minimum amounts of work that you must get done every single day to make the bigger goal a reality. The smaller the daily habit, the easier it is to implement it into your life.

Pick a mini habit you can sustain every day. If you want to meditate daily, start by meditating for a minute. If you want to get more fit, start with just 3 pushups, or a walk around the block. Make it so easy you can’t fail. But you have to do it daily.

2. Setup a reminder.

It could be a visible reminder (journal on your nightstand), or a calendar reminder (schedule a gym session every Monday morning). This will make it easier for you to get it done routinely.

3. Build in positive rewards. 

Either enjoy the habit (mindfully focus on the process finding joy and fulfillment in it) or do something enjoyable right after to create a positive association. Make it a game, announce it on social media, take yourself out for lunch once a week, buy yourself flowers every Saturday – reward yourself for your hard work.

4. Create a support group. 

Find a buddy to help you through the change – deep-seated behaviors are hard to tackle; you’re going to have a moment of weakness. Your buddy will hold you accountable and celebrate your victories with you.

Plan to fail occasionally. When you do slip up, be compassionate towards yourself, and notice your progress no matter the occasional hiccups.

Take Charge of Your Own Wellness

Change is hard. New habits take time to form. You will need to be persistent, mindful, and embrace imperfection (occasional failure is part of the process). But if you can stick to it on most days, the results can be life changing.

Training your mind takes awareness – mindfulness can take us off of autopilot so we can consciously respond instead of habitually reacting to life.

The more you train your new routine, the more the new behavior will become automatic and habitual, the healthier and happier you can build your life to be.

Forming a new habit takes repetition and focus. And time.

Be patient. Be kind. Be strong.

You’re worthy of putting yourself first!

Build happiness into your brain – by wiring new paths for love, optimism and flow – through mindful journaling!

Take charge of your healing – start your journey today!

Mind Shift: Love & Care For Yourself First

Mind Shift: Love & Care For Yourself First

There’s no doubt that Brené Brown and Kristin Neff changed my life. And my life had always seemed overwhelmingly out of balance.

Chained by self-criticism and self-blame, I’ve been stuck for years in a pattern of criticizing and bullying myself without even realizing it. I neglected my wants and needs, my body, and my soul’s desires. I denied myself anything that would make me feel loved and cared for.

Instead, my self-worth was tied to achieving and perfecting. The problem is, there’s never enough – one can always be more or do more. And so, in my mind, I was never worthy.

All the while I sacrificed my own well being in the process.

Yet, that was my “default” setting, my habitual way of dealing with events or challenges – pushing hard through stress then beating myself up for not handling it well enough. Is there anything more self-defeating than being an anxious and perfectionist achiever?

You just wear yourself out.

No wander I felt no inner peace or balance.

Yet, I thought that without being hard on myself I’d stop growing and start failing. In school, at parenting, in life…

Reading Brené Brown’s and Kristin Neff’s books I realized there’s another way of dealing with difficult moments or emotions – one that involves self-compassion instead of self-criticism, self-care instead of beating yourself up, self-acceptance instead of self-rejection.

In other words, there’s a self-loving way!

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”  ~Brené Brown

Mind Shift: Love & Care For Yourself First

Now I know why my life has always felt out of balance. There was way too much doing and not enough being, too much judgement and not enough self-compassion. Too much inner mean girl and not enough love or care for myself.

I was my worst enemy and my ways were making me miserable!

It takes intention, awareness, and, most importantly, practice to break out of lifetime patterns. We “get it” intellectually, yet old habits often kick in before we notice. But the moment we do notice, we have a chance to break out of old patterns by responding differently. We create new ways, shift our mindset just a bit, build new patterns, new brain connections, new habits.

Building that kind of awareness is powerful as it gives us control over how we respond to life.

So we can be a bit kinder to ourselves, love and care for our body, our mind, and our most inner self.

So we can be our own best friend.

Self-love and self-care go hand in hand. Practice both daily!

Let’s drop the pressure cooker pace, multitasking, being always “on”, being superwoman. Let’s pause, check in with our inner wisdom to reflect, reassess and realign. Let’s give ourselves a break, look for a more sustainable and supportive way to operate through life, take care of ourselves first so you can take care of others…

Take care of your inner world

Self-compassion is soothing your nervous system. Give that gift to yourself daily.(tweet this)

Love and nurture yourself from the inside out first. Take the time to re-connect with yourself daily. Ask yourself: “What is important to me?”, “How can I support myself today?”, “What do I need to let go of?”. Then take care of that first and foremost.

Go to that yoga class – you know how restored you feel afterwards. Take few minutes to quiet your mind, meditate or just stretch throughout the day. Go for a walk or take a long bath. Eat that piece of chocolate without the guilt. Take a break even though your to-do list is demanding attention now. Go easy on yourself when you make a mistake. Uncover hidden feelings so you can start healing. Laugh. Play. Realize your beauty.

And when you talk to yourself, especially in times of distress, be gentle, loving, and caring.

You’d do that for your best friend, wouldn’t you?

You’re worthy of putting yourself first!

Unravel where you are stuck, find your essence, and move past your fears and limitations into a more peaceful and purposeful life.

Take charge of your healing – start your journey today!

Transform Your Life With Mindful Journaling

Transform Your Life With Mindfulness Journaling

The Mindful Revolution

In today’s fast paced world, it is easy to get lost in the busyness and the constant chase for success. To balance the overwhelming pressures of everyday life, we need stillness and grounding – we need to come back to ourselves, again and again. Mindfulness can help you find the peace you crave and need.

Shifting from living life on “autopilot” to living in the moment is the core of mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness means living in the moment, being present and fully aware.

It is a state of active and open attention – you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad, you allow them to be knowing they will eventually pass. Mindfulness allows you to fully experience what is happening, and gain clarity, insight, and deepened self-knowledge along the way.

Mindfulness is the opposite of being mindless but also mind-full. Instead of letting life pass you by while being consumed by your mind chatter, mindful living means presence and purpose, it means being fully open to choices and possibilities.

Mindfulness means living less in our heads and more in our bodies.

It is simply a way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells, and reactions without being hijacked by them. This reconnects us with our bodies and the world around us, grounding us in the moment. It also shifts our focus to observing, simply noticing, which in turn allows us to move away from our reactionary mode to a more accepting and open way of experiencing life.

Mindfulness helps stop the cycle of reactivity & see things from an open, curious, and growth-mindset perspective. We don’t rehash the past, instead we try to learn from it. We don’t anxiously worry about the future, instead the goal is to allow the future to unfold, to get out of your own way, to dare to be vulnerable, to show up anyway.

Mindful living allows you to take ownership of our life, to be in control, to say YES to choices and NO to victim mentality!

Commit to practicing mindfulness

Practice everyday mindfulness – throughout the day, practice awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Be still and focus on your breath. Become aware of your body, your emotions, and what is happening at that moment. Notice sensations. Le go of your thoughts, just for a little while. Realize when you’re hijacked by your thoughts and bring yourself back to now by focusing on your breath.

Don’t judge. The point is to notice these internal distractions and mind wanderings then bring your focus back to your breath. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

What is Mindfulness Journaling

Mindful journaling is writing combined with a simple mindful check-ins when we move our attention inward to listen to what’s going on inside us including thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, emotions, messages of wisdom as you become mindful of them – in essence, listening to our INNER VOICE.

When you journal about your experiences, going deep means you will discover things you weren’t aware of, things buried deep in your subconscious. Yet those are the parts of your mind (beliefs, emotions, self-image) that guide your actions, determine your path, control your behavior, decide your life.

Unpacking those deep-seated beliefs, bringing them to light so you can work with them, changing those that don’t serve us, and rewriting/reframing your story (looking at your experiences in a balanced way, from the growth mindset perspective) so you can let it go is the path to healing and transforming your life.

Journaling can be transformative but also raw and painful. This is where mindfulness comes in. By bringing yourself back to the present moment as you write and observing how your body is reacting to your thoughts with a compassionate and open heart,  you can make better sense of the experience moving through it instead of getting entangled in it.

For me, journaling is meditation. The Mindfulness Journal is how I practice mindfulness and mindful living, especially in difficult moments. Ultimately, journal writing is all about giving yourself permission to release, heal and become your true self!

You’re worthy of putting yourself first!

Unravel where you are stuck, find your essence, and move past your fears and limitations into a more peaceful and purposeful life.

Take charge of your healing – start your journey today!

7 Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal

7 Benefits of Journaling Every Day

“Journaling is a profound — and simple — way to get to know yourself better. To figure out what makes you tick. What makes you happy. What makes you defensive. What makes you giggle or grateful or grieve. What makes you who you are.” ~Jill Schoenberg

I’ve been keeping a journal for few years now. It started as a quick gratitude practice and quickly morphed into daily journaling to help me clear my head, process difficult feelings, make sense of events, and be honest with myself.

Most often than not I do stream of consciousness writing – unstructured, unedited expression of thoughts and feelings. Turns out, expressive writing is a route to healing — emotionally, physically, and psychologically. It helps you free yourself from emotional blocks, overthinking, and being tangled in your traumas.

When I crack open my journal and start writing this way something magical happens. It’s all about flow and release. About clarity and calm. It’s about moving through pain – instead of getting stuck in in. This emotional release helps me cope with stress better, keeping my anxieties at bay. It helps me unpack my burdens, and let them go.

7 Benefits of Journaling Every Day

Journaling is a great practice that can help reduce stress, evoke mindfulness, promote emotional healing, increase self-awareness and nurture self-growth. (tweet this)

Yes, you can journal your way to a better life through insights, “aha’s,” and healing moments that will often surprise you.

In a nutshell, journaling is a great tool to help you:

  • overcome negative feelings, cope with stress and build resilience,
  • observe the patterns in your thinking and behaving empowering you to change and grow,
  • identify and shift your core beliefs about self and the world that might be limiting you right now,
  • release suppressed emotions and feelings,
  • process, integrate and heal from traumatic events in your life,
  • reframe negative experiences to rewrite your story and give it a new meaning,
  • clarify and illuminate your path, identify what you really want and create ways of reaching your goals.

Journaling is one of the most powerful choices you can make to improve your health, well-being, and an empowerment tool to help you grow! (tweet this)

For a more comprehensive list of benefits of journaling check out this post.

You’re worthy of putting yourself first!

Unravel where you are stuck, find your essence, and move past your fears and limitations into a more peaceful and purposeful life.

Take charge of your healing – start your journey today!