Quieting the Inner Critic

The beginning of a year intimidates. It overwhelms. Well, if you let it.

We have to break the beast down to consume in smaller bites. It’s just 52 weeks and you handle it one day at a time.

The “new year, new you” and all that business should not be the focus. Yes, it’s a new year but why does it have to be a whole new you?

We should all evolve with time and so Jan 1 is not a reset on who you are or how you live.

Jan 1 is an opportunity to continue expanding on what you have already built. The project may take a different turn with a new year but no need to scrap the project altogether and start over.

I cannot, will not and did not throw away 2015 as soon as 2016 arrived. Instead I choose to build on it. It is a new 365 day journal that will have ups and downs, victories and failures. But having arrived at the beginning of the yearlong journey I cannot help but think of the saying, “How do you eat an elephant?  A: One bite at a time.”

Every year we express bewilderment in how quickly 365 days go. I was just toasting champagne at the final countdown into 2016 with what feels like 3 hours ago but in reality we are already 3 days into January.

We must mentally prepare for everything that lies ahead of us. The mind is brilliant and amazing. It works well for us but sometimes the mind seems to work against us.

We intimidate and limit ourselves at times with just our thoughts. Do you find yourself being your biggest critic? I know I do it far too often but it never does me any good.

The time I spend complaining or being critical of myself, I could be making real changes or positive impact in my life and others. I get some of it is human nature and not easy to turn off or walk away from our inner critic but we have to learn to quiet it so we can be productive.

As necessary as it is to be kind to others, it is also so important for you to be kind to yourself. You already have to fight so many battles and the courage to do so can best be found in the most trying times if you are kinder to yourself.

When the critical voice gets loud, tell it to be quiet or get lost.

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The Greatest Lesson I ever learned about Myself

In high school I took on a bit of an adventurous spirit.  I started to enjoy life in the outdoors even more than I had when I was a kid. I started liking activities like camping. I don’t mean glamour camping. I’m talking sleeping in a tent, backside on the earth, shooting stars blanketing the sky above and all in a land of no plumbing. I came to really enjoy those experiences.

I also have on a couple occasions in my life gone rock climbing. I have done the man-made walls and scaled the side of a few caverns back in the day. It is not something I jump at doing because even just the thought of it is exhausting. Yet I have done it and I remember the first time I did.

Actually, the greatest lesson I have ever learned about myself came from a rock climbing wall.

I was strapped in. Those harnesses can be so uncomfortable but safety is always far more important than comfort or style in certain experiences.

I don’t recall how many feet the wall was but it was tall — looming like Goliath. Getting started was fairly simple though. I had guidance and was enjoying finding the next space to place my hand or stabilize my feet so I could achieve my goal of making it to the top. Oh and I forgot to mention there was an audience.

So there I was putting one foot in front of the other. Everybody was calling my name. Everybody was trying to encourage me. Everybody wanted to cheer me on. People below kept offering their advice. They were telling me I just need to make one more step, put my hand here and my foot there. There were so many voices at once all trying to offer their “help”. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

I was about halfway up when suddenly I freaked out. I was overwhelmed, my head was full of everyone’s voice but my own. Doubt was creeping up and I was losing. All of a sudden I didn’t want to do this anymore. It was too much pressure and no one was letting me think for myself. I couldn’t concentrate on doing what I needed to do and knew I could handle. I got caught up and lost my focus and it felt so hard to regain. But I was halfway there. I couldn’t give up now, right?

Then somebody in the crowd who recognized that I was fully capable of doing it, made a simple statement that changed everything. They said, “Dilaun. Tell us what you need.”

In that split second, I had to determine what I needed from the people who were trying to help me. They meant no harm in their efforts to help but the aggressiveness of their offering help was not actually helpful to me. So they asked me what do you need and I said “Actually I just need everybody to shut up. I got this. I like that you got my back but I don’t need the cheers. I don’t need the clapping. I don’t need the directions. I don’t need the micro-managing. I just need you to trust that I can handle this.”

Lo and behold, once everyone got quiet, I could think and focus and concentrate.  I got to the top of the climbing wall quickly and I rang the bell they had and it was a glorious feeling. I accomplished a major goal because I asked for exactly what I needed. I found power in my voice to say I need something different than what other people who get up here need. My boldness couldn’t come from the energy in the crowd. My boldness had to come from me. I had to create the environment that would allow that. When I first started climbing the wall I had no clue what that experience was going to be like. In order to achieve my goal I had to trust myself and the people around to support me, quietly.

I had just recognized that if I do not speak up for who I am or what I want, other people will tell me what they think I need instead of me telling people what I actually need. That inner clarity comes when I best know who I am.

The lesson carries over into many other pieces and parts of my world. I don’t need to be louder or more competitive. There are people who do that. This world works because there are those who do but there are others who don’t. We need Balance thus I don’t have to apologize for the way I am.

My story is about self-awareness. I am with myself everyday all day long so if I don’t know who I am… if I don’t know myself, I’m in trouble. When I was up on that climbing wall, I could have given up or let people continue offering advice that didn’t serve me or used my voice to show others how they could best help me.

Here are 5 take-aways from my rock climbing experience:

1. Trust your intuition

2. Speak the truth even if your voice shakes

3. Don’t allow other people to tell u what u want or need

4. Be comfortable enough in your own skin to know what u want or need (then ask for it)

5. Don’t apologize for feeling your feelings

What in this post was helpful to you? What would you add?

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