The Inviting Shift Podcast

S2 Episode 11: Unlocking Self-Love: Overcoming the Inner Critic and Embracing Growth

October 10, 2023 Christina Smith Season 2 Episode 11
The Inviting Shift Podcast
S2 Episode 11: Unlocking Self-Love: Overcoming the Inner Critic and Embracing Growth
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if the secret to a happier, more fulfilled life was as simple as loving yourself more? Sounds too good to be true, right? But it's not. In this enlightening episode, we examine why our society discourages self-love and how this lack of self-appreciation traps us in a cycle of harsh self-judgment. Through understanding the two archetypes related to self-love (or the lack of it) - the Wounded Child and the Inner Critic - we shine a light on the barriers obstructing our path to self-love. We also discover how discomfort can serve as a catalyst for growth and empowerment.

Are you ready to silence the inner critic and nurture self-love? By focusing on our unique abilities and talents, we can quiet that critical voice inside us. But it's not just about quieting the critic; it's about engaging our curiosity and openness to help us along the journey of self-love. So, when the inner critic pipes up, question it. Ask it why it's saying what it's saying, challenge its assumptions, and broaden your perspective. It's through this inquisitiveness, this curiosity, that we can navigate through self-doubt and criticism.

But the journey doesn't stop at questioning. It's time to celebrate! Celebrating our accomplishments, no matter how small, can lead to a stronger sense of self-love. As part of this episode, I am thrilled to introduce a half-day workshop designed to further explore and discuss self-love. Let's delve into the impact our inner critic has on our capacity to love ourselves and how by changing our perspective and celebrating our accomplishments, we can fully embrace self-love. So what are you waiting for? Listen in, and let's start practicing self-love together!

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Speaker 1:

Welcome back, shifters, to another episode of the Inviting Shift podcast. I'm your host, christina Smith, and I am so excited today because we're going to start the month of October and go through the entire month of October with self love topics and I know if you're cringing. There was a few years ago that I would have heard the word myself and been like, eh, whatever, that is right. What does self love mean? Well, this month we're talking with other experts. I'm going to give you the keys to self love that I think are truly, truly important for self love, and I want us to dip into this, knowing that self love is a practice. It's not an end point. There is not a time where we get to self love and we're like I'm never going to doubt myself again, I'm never going to go through that suffering spiral again. That's just not how it works. In fact, self love is a practice that myself and many other coaches are still working on, because there's always depths and expansion in self love. You're going to hear about that in a round table. I got different women from different walks of life and specialties to come on here and talk to us about what self love means to them. But today I want to talk with what self love means to me, and it's really, really hard, isn't it, to step into this energy of self love, for a couple of reasons. One, it's such a fuzzy topic what is self love? And two, our culture doesn't want us to have self love, and I know this because when I look up the definition in the dictionary wow, that one took me a while, thank you midlife I see words like being overly obsessed with oneself, conceit and vanity, and that's not related what it is. So we talked a little bit about it last week, but I want to go a little bit deeper into a couple of the keys, right, and the reasons that we have a hard time loving ourselves, and one of those are one of two archetypes that I want to talk about today. One of them is the wounded child. So the wounded child is the one who was probably wounded while we were a child, but we have also gathered evidence as we're moving on. We never really let go of our wounded child. She's always there, we can help heal her, but she's the one who takes all of those stories personally. What other people say to us when we shame ourselves, when we think that, if we're just mean enough to ourselves. We won't do that mess up again. Right, she takes the brunt of that. It's as if we're screaming at this wounded child and telling her yeah, you know, you're not good enough. Let me tell you about when you were eight. Let me tell you about that thing we did when we were 16 or 22 or 31. Right, that wounded child is always a part of us that thinks that we're not enough or we're way too much, and that's where most of our underlying problem with self love comes from is that we have been collecting evidence as to why we aren't enough or why we're too much. Whatever those things are our entire life and this is a safety issue, right. So our brain actually uses this as a safety feature that anything that is unsafe, we want to be able to point it out. The problem with our brains is that they don't really know the difference between safety and discomfort, right, really, the feature that is picking up this part of our brain that is looking for all the things that can go wrong it isn't balanced. It is looking for anything that will make us uncomfortable as well, and the struggle with discomfort is. Discomfort is really where our growth edge is. That's where we empower ourselves from. So discomfort isn't necessarily a bad thing, but being unsafe is, and so sometimes, when we have that inner critic coming out, we first have to ask ourselves that question of is this unsafe or is this uncomfortable? And we'll get to that in a little bit, but usually what happens is we go through this suffering spiral is what I call it. I experience a trigger or a moment of emotional woundedness, right? Maybe one of my inner child's wounds is that I'm not smart enough. Right, because when I was young, that was the only thing that was important is am I smart enough? And so whenever I feel like my intelligence is being challenged, my wounded child can come out. Right, if I'm being questioned or I just take somebody's comment the wrong way to mean that I'm not very smart, that wounded child comes out and she gets so mad. She's like oh yeah, oh yeah, and she gets along with the inner critic. Now, in our modern midlife mentorship, we talk a lot about the inner critic today, which isn't actually an archetype the way that I talk about her. She's actually the shadow part of our judge archetype. So we have this judge that wants to be free and wants to be safe, and there's a scale there. Right, on one side is freedom, on one side is safety, and our judge, our inner judge, tries to discern what is unsafe versus how can we be free? Right, so what are the risks? Right, that's what our judge is doing. But when our judge starts listening to this wounded child part of ourselves, suddenly that judge becomes so strict on safety and wants to just put ourselves in this tiny little box so that we don't ever get out, that we don't grow. But not growing also means well, maybe we won't feel pain, maybe we won't embarrass ourselves, right? All those things are uncomfortable, they're not unsafe, and so we have to bring ourselves back from the inner critic. And this can be hard, because the moment that we need the most self-love is usually the moments that we don't want to give ourselves permission to give it to ourselves. At least, that's how it works for me. When I am feeling my low, there's a part of my wounded child that just wants to keep kicking myself in the head, hitting my head against that wall and telling myself why. It's true, then I'm just not good enough or I'm too much, and so we really want to. How we correct these two archetypes? Right? We're going to start with some of the keys of self-love today. The first one is compassion. It is going to be dang hard to love on yourself if you're not going to have compassion for your humanness. I say this all the time in my emails be gentle with your humanness. That means bringing that compassion factor in. Compassion is so essential for self-love because it's the part of us that can give ourselves permission to be nice to ourselves. And I know that some of you gen-axers are going yeah, but how will I correct it If I don't use shame or I'm not mean to myself or tell myself how stupid that thing was to do? I love what Brene Brown says, and she says that shame breaks down the very part of us that thinks that we're capable of change. So I have tried the shame game so many times in my life that I just make myself miserable thinking about how I make all these mistakes. And if I just would do the right thing right, or say the right thing or not say anything right, whatever the circumstance might be, that somehow, if I mean enough to myself, I'll do it right, better or better the next time, right. But that's not really how it works. Shame breaks down that part of us that thinks that we're capable of that change. So it may work. Sometimes, right, I've done some things because I've shamed myself or been mean enough to myself to force myself to do it. But it's not nearly as effective as having compassion for ourselves, because compassion gives us a moment to go wow, that was very human of me, that was a mistake. I can go fix it. I can go apologize. There might be things that I can do in order to make that right. But I'm also going to be kind to myself, knowing that I'm human. I'm not a robot. I'm not going to get things right just because I know better, and I love that quote by Maya Angelou. It's like when we know better, we do better, but that's not always true. Sometimes our ego gets in the way. We get defensive, we sit in our wounded child, our inner critic comes out. All of these energies can impact the way that we do things, even if they're not the way that we want to. So what I want us to learn today is that self-love is a practice. If you remember nothing else out of this, I want you to know that self-love is a practice. One of those practices is compassion, and compassion is all about having kindness for ourselves. In fact, I have the definition right here A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. Now, that shame that we're putting on ourselves, that meanness, that's part of that misfortune, right, we're actually creating our own misfortune, and so we want to be able to be kind, that they want to alleviate the suffering. And the way that we alleviate the suffering is stop being mean to ourselves, right, stop shaming ourselves. And the first thing I've always had to do is give myself permission permission to be kind to myself. Even though my humane goes wrong, even though I don't show up the way that I want to, even though I say things that embarrass me, even though I make mistakes, some of them repeatedly I get to still choose to give myself permission to be kind to myself. So, if that's never anything that you've said to yourself, I want you to say to yourself right now I give myself permission to be kind to me, to have compassion, even when maybe I knew better or could have done better or should have done better. We're going to give ourselves compassion. I want you to write it down now, because I want you in the moments where we need it the most. It's the hardest for us to choose it, and this has been one of my practices for the last 10 years is really learning how to be kind to myself, even when I don't want to be so. The first thing is giving ourselves permission to be kind. Sounds kind of silly, but a lot of us really need that because we don't think it's justified when we do things wrong. If you grew up in religion or Catholic church, it was pretty much you know bad things are happening to you because God can see what you're doing and he's punishing you right. So there was like a definite consequences for all of our actions, and so when bad things happened, at least in my house, it was because I had done something wrong and I don't want us to step into that anymore. We do things wrong because we mess up. We're human, we can do our best, but the best way to bounce back from that and come back to our best self is a lot of self-love, getting stuck in that suffering spiral by constantly saying oh yeah, christina, you always do this wrong and remember you don't do that right and you're not very good at that either. What can you do. You know, what kind of friend are you? What kind of wife are you? I can ask myself all of these questions and just get stuck in that really negative place, but instead I'm choosing compassion, which means that I'm going to be really kind. Wow, christina, that was embarrassing and that's okay. Hopefully we won't do that again next time. But we can be loving to ourselves, right. Start healing that wounded child instead of continuing to shame her. We can step into it and say wow, that was a mistake and that's okay. Right, how we would want to raise our children to be kind to themselves. We really need to parent ourselves in a way in which we can forgive that inner child of ours and we can really see the love and intention behind them. So here's three ways I want you to be a little bit kinder to yourself. First was that permission. The second is I want you to speak kindly to yourself. Now, a lot of people use affirmations which I think can be great, but there's a lot of ways in which we use affirmations that aren't as helpful as we think they are. For me, at least, one of them is when I say I am magnificent. Right, that might be a really great affirmation. However, for a long time, when I wasn't giving myself self-love, I really had this hard part about putting these magnificent claims out there. These big claims. Right, if I'm not feeling magnificent, it might feel like I'm lying to myself. Right, that I'm like fooling myself and just saying words, and then people repeat them over and over and over again and the words start meaning nothing and bringing nothing to me. And so, instead of that, I want you to be honest with yourself. Right, you don't have to believe the statement 100%, but there has to be some credibility in there, some ability to go. Oh, I can go with that. So if saying I am magnificent feels too big, one way we can give ourselves compassion is I am curious how magnificence will show up in my life today. I'm curious as to my own magnificence. I'm open to seeing my own magnificence. Our eyes are at least pointed in the right direction and we might be open to seeing more of it. So, affirmations we want them to be true if you're going to use them. We want to feel that, so that it doesn't start feeling like just words that we're repeating to ourselves. We want to really breathe them in and feel them in. We also need to let go of perfection. I know we love it, gen Xers especially we just somehow think that perfection is attainable, achievable. I remember one time when I was in the suffering spiral, my husband was like I was saying oh, I'm doing terrible as a mother, as a wife, I'm doing terrible at work, my friends, you know I went in that whole suffering spiral. My husband asked me Christina, who's getting this perfect? Name me one woman, look around and tell me one person on this planet who's getting it all right. All at the same time. I really thought for a long time and I was like holy cow, everybody's got something wrong with them. Right, everybody's got a thing. And so we just want to be aware that we're often comparing ourselves Like I'm comparing my mothering to a woman who I see as perfect, and she probably sees me as perfect because we have different skills and we just see we cherry pick right, we just see the parts that we're like oh, I really want that, that's how I want to show up and I'm not doing that. So I must be doing it wrong. But we're not really tuning into the magic and the gifts that we actually have. We're just comparing our flaws to other people's highlights and that's not really fair, is it? So we're going to show ourselves a lot of compassion and remember that humane is hard, even if we don't think we have a hard life. All humane is hard, all of it. And so we can give ourselves compassion, give ourselves that permission for compassion. The second key that I wanted to talk about to self-love that I believe there is is curiosity. This is a huge one, and these are things that we can practice. Even if we don't really connect with self-love, even if all those warm, gushy, fuzzy feelings aren't showing up for us, we can at least start with the keys, so we can start giving ourselves permission to be compassionate. But we can also give ourselves permission just to open our view, and that is what curiosity is all about For me. Again, my inner critic can come out, my wounded child can come out and all of a sudden, I'm so judgmental. Oh, I'm so stupid. Why do I do that? I'm lazy, right, we come up with all these negative descriptors. I'm an idiot. Why would I trust people? Why would I trust myself? Why don't I ever stay committed to myself? Right, we can get so judgmental when we put ourselves in this like negativity box and we can get stuck there. But curiosity is the cure for judgment. Curiosity is the cure for judgment because when we're being curious, our mind starts opening to possibilities and the definition for curiosity in case you're curious like I am the desire to learn or more know about anything. So when we are desiring to learn more or know more about things, we haven't made a judgment completely on it right, we don't have one-sided opinion. We are open, we want to learn more, we want to see it from different angles, from different facets. Right, we want to be able to discover more. And when we're discovering more, our brains need to be open, right? Because if not, cognitive dissonance would come in and go nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. If you are in a nope mood, that's a really great indication that you're stuck in wounded child or inner critic. Because I got to tell you when I'm really wanting to be mean to myself, I don't want to see any other possibilities, I don't have curiosity, I just want to have judgment and some damnation for whatever it is that I've done. Right, punishment Society is saying well, maybe there's more to the picture, maybe I could stay open and curious, maybe I could figure out what else is true about this, right? So, instead of going into this judgment mode, which doesn't help, you know, calling ourselves lazy or stupid or mindless none of that is really helping us become a better person, it's just punishing us. But instead of doing that and then bringing up all the evidence right, because we love to gather evidence during our lives, I have so many different pieces of evidence as to how I'm not enough or too much, right. Going back to that, and what happens is I can remember all the way back to oh, remember when I was eight and I said that mean thing to my friend. Or when I was 12 and I messed up that dance recital, right, like I can go into that suffering spiral. So instead of getting there and getting stuck there, we want to just build new evidence. There's so much evidence out there to your magic and gifts. The problem is that safety feature in our brain isn't looking for all of our magic and our gifts, it's just looking for all the pitfalls, right? It's looking for all the risks, all the ways in which we can hurt or embarrass ourselves or suffer discomfort. So instead, I would love us to start celebrating ourselves and really looking at our own gifts and magic, being more curious about ourselves than judgmental. Yeah, maybe I messed that up, but what are five things I actually got right today and I promise you, you make more than a hundred decisions in your day, so I'm sure that there are some decisions that are perfect and magical and work out just right. We just don't notice them because we're so good at them. But we want to start doing that. We want to start building that pile of magnificence here is my pile of magnificence, right and if I balance that pile, start balancing those two piles of evidence versus, you know, the critical, versus the gifts and the magic then we start getting a more balanced judge on the inside and the inner critic kind of has to shuffle away, especially when we have compassion for that inner critic part of ourselves. So curiosity is how we're going to cure the judgment. So, when we are feeling all of this criticism coming up, I want us to start asking ourselves some really great questions Because, again, we want to be able to decipher what's unsafe versus uncomfortable. This is a very good curiosity question, right, what's unsafe, what's uncomfortable, unsafe? Obviously we want to take care of most of the time. Most of the time today, we're not running from bears or doing other physically fatal things right, so we're pretty safe. It's really about our discomfort, and again, discomfort is where our growth edge is. It's always uncomfortable to grow, otherwise we would just have grown that part already right, but it's the discomfort that keeps us from that. So we want to make sure that our brain is giving us data and not just these made-up stories of what might go wrong, could go wrong, and so what I want us to do is start with some really delicious questions and good questions help us again open up and see more possibilities. Otherwise, we can get very black and white. I can see there a yes or a no, and usually in situations there's a ton more opportunities that we're not exploring. So great questions Is it unsafe or uncomfortable? We want to ask ourselves that right away, because as long as it's just uncomfortable, we can calm down that nervous system, take a deeper breath and start getting curious about well, what are the possibilities right, instead of feeling the fear as if it's a real thing and as if it's actually going to physically hurt us. So bringing down the nervous system with is it unsafe or uncomfortable? The second question that I got from a sales trainer many, many years ago was what if the opposite is true. This question has opened up so many possibilities. So if I'm thinking to myself, christina, you're such a mess up, you always mess up. What if I asked if the opposite was true? Do I always mess up or do I often get things right? Well, often I get things right. It's just these parts that I'm not expecting right, or the perspective that I'm having at the moment right. I didn't want this to happen. So suddenly it comes. The worst thing, rather than we don't always recognize when we're using the best parts of ourselves, we kind of expect that to happen and don't really question it. So what if the opposite were true? So if I'm thinking about the future and I'm like, oh, what if nobody listens to this podcast or gets anything out of it? Or I can start asking myself, what if people get a lot out of this podcast? What if they really start tuning in and asking themselves these questions, putting their inner critic in linemen right, healing that wounded child, so that we don't have to act from that really over-emotional part of ourselves? What if the opposite is true? The third one is a question I've been asking myself for 15 years. It's not about a silver lining, but it is about asking ourselves. How can I love this? Everything's got pros and cons. I'm not saying that we should always just make the pros so extraordinary that we don't see the cons. Of course not. We couldn't make really good decisions if all we looked at the good stuff, right. But what I'm saying is, how can I love this? Sometimes I love it by saying, wow, I'm being challenged, this is a good thing. I'm gonna grow some. That might be the only thing I can love this. But can I love about this? I am brave enough to take on this challenge, that I am brave enough to keep trying, even though I've failed. Right, that's how I can love this. We make it about the gifts in ourselves, that we keep trying, that we're consistent, that we did our best, that we even tried in the first place right, that's how we can love it. How can I love the situation? Wow, maybe there's a situation that's really teaching me how to communicate in a better way. Maybe there's a situation that I always believe that conflicts among people can be really great opportunities for deepening connections, not separating them, and so I can start getting curious about how can I love this? Wow, after I have this conflict with my friend, I might have a closer relationship if I start moving forward in a way that I feel good about right. How can I love this? The last piece is what can I celebrate about me which might be part of our? How can I love this, too? I celebrate that I'm trying this again, even though it didn't work out the first time. I'm celebrating the fact that I have I just cried out and moved right on. I'm celebrating myself for really showing up with courage. I'm celebrating myself for doing the thing that I said was hard and I did it anyway. Celebration is one way that we can get more curious about ourselves. What can I celebrate about myself? And this might be hard at first. So I always suggest to my clients go tell someone in your family something awesome that you did that day or something awesome that you're proud about yourself for right Doesn't even have to be from that day but tell them about your gifts. Celebrate yourself, because I know that in other worlds, when we were growing up, to celebrate ourselves was showing off or bragging. But how do we really step into our fullness without celebrating who we are? How do we allow other people to step into their fullness if we're not willing to show them how to celebrate themselves. I really think celebration is a huge part of being curious, right Starting that new pile of evidence as to our magnificence, rather than always depending on that old pile of evidence that tells us how we're not enough for too much all of the time. And these are the first two keys to unlocking self-love. It's a half-day experience that we do once a year with my clients, and if you join in to the modern midlife mentorship now for the introductory price by October 31st, if you sign up on November 4th, we will be getting together and spending half a day together as a small group to really talk about this self-love, to give you an experience of self-love. So if you're not sure exactly what self-love is, I hope that you'll join us then. If you have any questions, please let me know. Otherwise I will see you all next week with a couple more of our keys.

Keys to Practicing Self-Love
Letting Go and Cultivating Curiosity
Questioning Perspectives and Self-Celebration
Celebration and Self-Love Workshop Announcement