Name it to tame it

Berne Brown, the world famous researcher on shame and vulnerability says that a way to tame your inner critic is to giver her a name and begin to understand her as an entity.

Because the critic thrives on secrecy, silence and the perception of judgment, giving her a name and calling her out on her tactics weakens her power considerably.

Brown calls her critic "Gremlin", but personally, I'd like to think of something nastier. I have tried various names for my inner critic and these days I am calling her "Ms. Blah Blah".

I can always count on Ms. Blah Blah to let me know why what I set out to do is not a good idea or that it is not a good time to do it.

When I wanted to start the Daily Wisdom project, for example, Ms. Blah-blah gave me a hundred excuses why I could not – or should not -do this.

Here are only a few of them:

  1. You are not consistent – you will start and then it will fizzle out
  2. It is too big of a commitment – you don't have the time
  3. You are NOT a good...
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Do what you need to do

Did you know that many people who are the *best* at what they do also have a critic inside their heads?

Bill Russell, for example, one of the great names in basketball ... the only athlete to ever win an NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and a professional championship all in the same year—1956... had one small problem: He used to get so nervous that he threw up before every game.

So it turns out that he too, had a strong inner critic telling him what could go wrong and making him so nervous that he would throw up.

How did he become one of the great names in his sport?

He simply learnt to ignore the critic and do what he needed to do.

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The saddest thing

parenting self awareness Mar 09, 2017

The saddest thing would be if we let the fictitious voice of the confused inner critic stop us from doing what we were meant to do.

Don't you think?

Can you imagine letting something that has no basis in reality come in the way of all the potential good we could do on this planet?

What would the world be deprived of, if you kept yourself small and safe?

The truth is that not a single one of us really knows the extent of our full potential unless and until we push ourselves to go beyond our self doubts, fears and hesitations.


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The big secret behind the voice of the inner critic

Consider this: your inner critic actually has the best intentions. S/he fears for your safety. And s/he has taken on the job of the inner critic to keep you safe by keeping you small. If you do take risks, you cannot fail. You will be 'safe'.

In order to keep you safe, your inner critic tells you off, criticizes you and creates doubts and hesitations.

It ALWAYS operates from FEAR.

The fear of failure, of rejection, of not getting it right . . . It does not want you to experience any of these.

Here's the issue, though: It is said that ships are safe in harbour. If they do not leave the harbour they do not have to face the storms and the uncertainties that are inherent in leaving the safety of the dock.

But ships are not made for the harbour, are they?

Just as ships are built to sail out of harbor, you have come here to learn, to grow, to evolve, to share your gifts and to reach your full potential.

You cannot do any of this if you continue to play it safe and small and not leave the...

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What would you tell your best friend?

If a friend expressed self doubt or negative feelings towards himself or herself, what would you tell them? How would you encourage them to be realistically optimistic?

Would you say, "you are so stupid, you will never get this right"?

Or, are you more likely to say, "Yes you made a mistake. Who doesn't? Just learn from it and move on".

Should we not be at least as kind and encouraging to ourselves as we are to our friends?

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Write down what the critic is saying

When the familiar story of self doubt or negativity starts playing in your head, take a moment and write it down. Word for word.

It is often helpful to write this down in two ways:
First, write down everything in the first person: "I cannot do this", "I will never be able to do this" etc etc.

Now rewrite these stories in the second person: "You cannot do this". "You are just not organized enough, clever enough, good enough . . . ." "What makes you think that you will succeed this time when you have failed in the past . . ."

Blah, blah, blah. . .

Now ask yourself: Are these stories adding value to your life? Are they helping you live your best self?

If not, simply thank the critic for sharing their view, and then get on with your day.

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What is your critic saying?

We all have that critical inner voice – the one that specializes in giving a running (mostly negative) commentary in our heads. Creating self doubt, telling us off and breaking our confidence.

Sometimes, we just accept this commentary without challenge.

"You look so tired/fat/ugly/stupid", "You can't do this." "You're such a mess." "What's the matter with you?", "What's WRONG with you, you still don't have it together".

So how do we continue to live our best selves' moment to moment while this critic is having a field day inside our heads?

The very first step is to become aware of this narrator/critic/commentator. Just by recognizing the existence of this critic, we begin to loosen her hold on our life.

By noticing the script that s/he is playing, we begin to recognize that these statements are NOT a reflection of reality.

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Are you aiming for the real prize or the booby prize?

Over the last month, we have discussed many ways to nurture our relationships.

We need to end this discussion with a word of caution.

Sometimes, when we become aware of new insights or learn new skills, our relationships take a turn for the worse!

How is that possible, you ask?

Because, once we learn these skills, we get REALLY good at figuring out how our spouse is falling short of applying these insights and strategies.

This kind of knowledge though, is a booby prize. A booby prize is defined as "a joke prize usually given in recognition of a terrible performance or last-place finish".

Here's the thing: if you are anything like me, you are already pretty good at figuring out how people around you can improve. So no real prizes for that!

Winning at love means taking on the challenge of 'self improvement' rather than 'other-improvement'.

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The Magic Ratio

One of Dr. Gottman's biggest research findings is the 5:1 rule.

Dr. Gottman has found that for the emotional climate of a relationship to be positive, the ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions between the spouses has to be greater than 5:1. This is because negative experiences have a much bigger impact on the human brain than positive ones (something we will talk about in the future inshallah)

Simply put, this means that for every negative interaction you have with your spouse (even happy couples have negative interactions) you need to have at least 5 times as many positive ones to keep the relationship happy.

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Make a list

I once came across a woman who taught me a great lesson about acceptance in relationships.

A group of us were complaining about annoying habits of spouses and how they can drive us quite crazy. She was the only one in a long term relationship who did not add to the griping.

We wondered if she was married to a saint.

"Nope", she said, "He is no saint. Early on in my relationship, I made a list of all the things I find irritating about my husband. I then made a decision to accept him as he is and love him despite all these annoying habits that sometimes drive me crazy. So now, on days when I want to nit pick at his exasperating habits, I remind myself, Oh yea, that is on the list, so big deal".

If we have been grumbling about the shortcomings of our other halves for a while now, isn't it time to accept them as they are, the whole package?

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