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Do You Have Toxic Expectations?

podcast Mar 03, 2020

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Hey Dethroners!  Today I want to talk about how our Inner Critic’s expectations are really at the heart of all of our suffering.    

I do this work on a daily basis in my own life and as I coach all of my one on one and Mastering Your Mind clients because my Inner Critic’s demands of how I should be, other people should be (and how my life should be) caused me to stay in a cycle of stress, overwhelm, burnout and dissatisfaction.  And this is the way most people operate in their lives.

They live a white knuckle life, waiting for the day that all of their ideal pictures and expectations can be met and then they can be happy. I do this work because I know that there is a much better way to live and the more people who know how to master their minds, the better our whole world will be.

For me, it has been a lifelong pursuit of learning how to master my own mind, and that is at the heart of every aspect of my life. I have used my suffering as my greatest tool to create the extraordinary life I am living right now.

Our emotions truly are one of the most powerful tools that we can use to create a new life because we are actually the creators of our emotions. It is only our thoughts that create our emotions.  At any moment, we have the opportunity to choose how we are going to think, feel, respond and react to the people, circumstances and situations in our lives. But most people think on autopilot, and then blindly listen to those thoughts, and it is those automatic thoughts that cause all the suffering.

I teach my clients what I consider to be the key to life, and that is to use all of your emotions as an opportunity to pinpoint your Inner Critic’s attachments.  Because most people don’t know that their automatic Inner Critic mind is governing their lives. Most people have constructed a life in which they carefully protect themselves from people or circumstances that would cause them to feel painful emotions like fear, doubt, jealousy, guilt, shame, inadequacy or insecurity.

We feel frustrated and angry when some part of ourselves or our lives don’t look the way it “should” or is “supposed to be”. And then we try to force some part of ourselves or our lives to fit that expectation.  This is what I call “toxic expectations”: When you find yourself waiting for something within yourself, your life, or someone else to change, be fixed or perfected so that you can stop feeling a sense of lack or incompleteness in your life, this is when we suffer.

Toxic expectations come from the belief that we should avoid feeling emotions that cause discomfort. Our Inner Critic tells us that in order to avoid feeling those emotions, we have to control, protect, manage or manipulate life, which is impossible. But we keep trying which is why most people are never truly whole and fulfilled.

They are always searching for how to fulfill the next expectation. If one expectation is met, it is quickly replaced with the next expectation. But the beautiful thing about this work is that when you are able to clearly see your Inner Critic’s programming, you no longer have to retreat from people or life situations. You can actually welcome these situations because they provide you with more practice to dethrone your Inner Critic.

It is such a beautiful thing when one of my clients tells me that they were faced with a situation that just a few months ago would have completely derailed them, caused them major anxiety or upset and now they are able to handle the situation in a completely new way.  I hear this all the time and it truly makes my heart sing. Because this is exactly what changes the direction of people’s lives.

They no longer have to fear or run away from anything or anyone, which makes them take on entirely new actions and ways of being that they never before would have been able to take on. Within months of practicing this work, they see tangible changes in the direction of their lives...and this is all from shifting the notion that things happen TO us. Instead, we can see all of life as happening FOR us.

When we are listening to our Inner Critic, we think things are happening to us. Taking control of our inner life is about becoming intimately aware of the automatic voice of our Inner Critic so that we can see more clearly how these thoughts create our feelings associated with suffering (anger, jealousy, frustration, fear) and how these feelings create our actions and choices that limit our ability to remain in love and connection with ourselves and the people in our lives. 

When we find ourselves feeling these feelings, this is the opportunity to see that this is happening FOR you, so that you can separate from your Inner Critic, and instead practice thoughts that create a different feeling from within yourself, instead of waiting for something to be different so you can feel good. When you understand how to generate thoughts within your own mind that create emotions such as love, joy, passion, connection, fulfillment right now, with the life you are currently living, you no longer NEED to change anything in your outer world so that you can feel happy or complete.  

Changing the way that you talk to yourself about the situations in your life is what creates an entirely different life. And practicing dethroning your Inner Critic is a practice.  It takes paying conscious attention to your Inner Critic’s automatic thoughts. Instead of saying, “I am so mad at my kid for disrespecting me”, I can say, “My Inner Critic’s thoughts are making me feel angry and disrespected because the expectation is that my child should not speak that way, and I should always be respected.  But the fact is, He is just acting the way he is acting.”

I would prefer my kid to act differently in the moment and I might even tell my kid that it is not ok to speak to me that way, but I don’t get as inwardly rattled, because I don’t NEED his respect in order to feel good. I used to get really angry, and then think, “my kid shouldn’t behave that way, and I have to make sure to stop that behavior, otherwise I am not doing a good job as a mom.”  Talk about a toxic expectation!

That was my Inner Critic’s expectation. She demanded that I have kids that always treat me with love and respect. Those of you who don’t have kids might think that’s an easy thing to control, but I assure you, it is NOT! In fact, we don’t have control over what anyone says or does, because they act the way they act because of the thoughts they are listening to!  And remember, most of the world doesn’t know that they even have an automatic voice in their mind that is speaking to them.  They think they ARE their Inner Critic, so they are often acting out their own internal suffering!  

Practicing dethroning your Inner Critic doesn’t mean that you will never feel feelings like sadness, anger, frustration again. But when we do, we have the tools to think in a way that changes the intensity of the emotion. We can see the meaning our Inner Critic is assigning to the circumstance and realize that what she is saying is her story, rather than an actual fact. We can even begin to spot the running theme song that has been playing on a repetitive loop for forever. 

My Inner Critic is always playing her favorite song, “You’re not good enough.” Whenever I am feeling anxious, sad or angry, I don’t have to look very far to see where she has whipped up some fear that if something doesn’t fit my expectation of the way I think it should, it means that I am somehow not good enough.  I am able to see that I might have a preference that some part of my life turn out the way I want it to, but I don’t NEED it to in order to feel gratitude, love, peace and abundance. That knowledge, that wisdom to be able to spot my Inner Critic and choose a different thought, has literally changed the entire course of my life. It has actually altered some parts of my personality. I am no longer as short-tempered and reactive as I used to be. I am less anxious and more at peace than ever before. I don’t have to protect myself from judgment, inadequacy, failure. And this is all because I have used my inner thoughts to generate positive emotions from within my own mind. 

The irony is that the more I used to focus on changing my external world so that I could feel good, the more anxious and dissatisfied I was. And when I was anxious and dissatisfied, I would react differently to my kids, my husband and myself. It was like I was in a vicious cycle, where focusing on trying to change something outside of myself made me more dissatisfied, so I would focus more on the outside, which would make me more dissatisfied, so I would try to change something outside of myself.  That is a vicious cycle that was created a long time ago, and this is the vicious cycle that most people are stuck in.

Now I have gotten to the point where I don’t NEED anyone or anything outside of me to feel good. I don’t need the approval or acceptance from other people. I can even hear criticism from someone, and I don’t need to get defensive. The more I realize that I don’t NEED what I thought I needed, I can drop my Inner Critic’s demand that the expectation is fulfilled. Because I don’t need to protect myself from failure, mistakes, rejection, judgment, I can just BE. 

I don’t have to live up to my Inner Critic’s demands, shoulds, and expectations. Your Inner Critic’s demands are what I call her addictions. An addiction is something we think we need to feel the way we want to feel. My Inner Critic’s addiction is to feel valued and loved all the time. And the more I feel good without trying to fix, change, manipulate or perfect anything or anyone so that I can feel valued and loved, the more life is actually showing up in the ways that my Inner Critic demanded in the first place! My relationships with my kids are more peaceful and loving. Not 100% of the time, but I will take 50% more of the time! 

I am feeling proud of myself and at peace with who I am, instead of constantly feeling like I am a work in progress. I don’t give away my power to anything or anyone outside of myself, so external circumstances don’t control how I think and feel. If something in my life doesn’t go the way I would prefer, I am still able to feel good. And remember, that is half the time…. Half of our lives go the way that we want them to, and half don’t.  

So the bottom line is that our problems are not in the outside world.  Our problems are a result of our Inner Critic’s toxic expectations of the way it is “supposed to be”.  We really have very little control over our outside world, but we can learn to master our internal world.  Most people think they have waaay more power to control how life goes than they actually do. And so they get very uptight when the world doesn’t live up to their expectations.  Learning to master your mind creates freedom, joy, and fulfillment that is indescribable. It takes ongoing work, structure, and support to rewire a new mind and separate yourself from your toxic expectations.  But when you have the power to use every moment of anger, anxiety, resentment, jealousy, worry, or fear as an opportunity to begin to talk to yourself in a very different way, that is how you change your life. 

In order to truly change your life, you need to be willing to think differently from how you feel.

That's why I collected some of my favorite resources and trainings to create an owner's manual for your mind. Want access? Tell us where to send your log-in details! 

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