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Mary Jo has been really diligent about starting an exercise routine.  For the past 2 weeks she got up at five every morning and went for a walk outside.  And then it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  Mary Jo thought to herself that she would go when it stopped raining.  Then the sun came out and Mary  Jo told herself she needed the sleep that morning.  Then one morning turned into two, then three, etc.  Mary Jo began to make excuses about why she couldn’t go,.  Then the excuses turned to self-criticism.  You’re lazy.  You never finish things–you never follow through.  What’s the point?  You’re not good with discipline anyway.

Have you ever noticed that your self-criticism is worse than anything you could say about others?  You can be really hard on yourself!  Have you also noticed that much of the self-criticism has to do with comparison:

I’m not as ______________(skinny, smart, rich…) as ____________ (my friend, family member, office worker, etc).  I’ll never be that good. 

Many of you are so kind to others during your day, but in your thoughts you are really terrible toward yourself.  You are your own worst critic!  All of this criticism leads to self-hatred–hatred of some parts of you that need your love the most.  If you had a child that berated themselves with the words you say to yourself, how would you handle this?  Would you allow them to say this to themselves?  Let me give you an example:

“I’m so stupid.  I’m so fat.  I’ll never be that smart!”  says Billy as he has a meltdown on the swings in the backyard.

Do you let him continue berating himself?  Would you instead come over and wrap your arms around him and tell him he’s good enough just as he is and that you love him?  What do you think would happen with his self-esteem if he continued this pattern of behavior every time he felt down on himself–or even if he did something really well?  So, you can give Billy here the love and compassion he needs, why shouldn’t you do the same for yourself?

Each time you beat yourself up, you chip away at your self-esteem. You also affect your health and overall well-being.

You are a beautiful soul and you are good enough.  No one is perfect–that’s part of our life’s journey is to learn through our “mistakes” and “failures” and to grow from them.  If life was easy and there were no challenges, then you wouldn’t have these opportunities for growth and expansion.

Look at these moments when you “screw up” or could have done things better with amusement and love.

Look at them as a mother looks at their child–with unconditional love.  Sometimes all you need is a hug and some words of encouragement.  When your inner critic pipes up, learn to give these things to yourself.  That inner critic can be fed and grow bigger the more you listen them.  Diminish their voice and their effect on you by first recognizing when they come up, then sending it some love:

“Oh, there’s that critic part of me.  I’m not going to listen to you right now.  You want a hug though?”

The next article I am going to write is on the difference between sympathy, empathy, and compassion.  This is an important distinction because I find that many people get stuck being a victim.  Even counselors, coaches, and healers get caught up in seeing a victim in front of them instead of the whole person.  These well-meaning and well-intentioned people inadvertently feed the victim part instead of the hero inside of us all.  Sound interesting?  Great!  Stay tuned….