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How To Make Your Life Work

podcast Sep 22, 2020

 

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Hey Dethroners! Why is it that for most of us, even when our lives are great, we find reasons to be unhappy? And yes, you can feel relieved to know that this is not just you that feels this!  

This is all of us. And that is because our Inner Critic mind is hard-wired to anticipate the worst outcome. That is rooted in our primitive survival mechanism, which is how our Inner Critic mind was created.  

At 2 years old, you might have figured out that the way to get what you wanted was to scream and yell, and try to power trip your parents. At 2 years old, that is the only power that we have. As we get older, we try to figure out how we can get what we want. Beginning at about 3 or 4 years old, we’re trying to figure out how we get other people, beginning with our parents, to love and value us.  And these early beliefs create lifelong patterns.  

As you got older, you began to find other “winning strategies” to get what you want. Maybe you became the people pleaser. Maybe you became the smart one, or the pretty one, the funny one, or the good one because your brother was the “bad one”. But you developed some winning strategy early on in your life, and believe it or not, you are trying to use a version of that same winning strategy in your life now.  But the problem is, that it has been quite bankrupt for a long time. 

It is automatic.  You aren’t even aware you’re using your winning strategy. There is no choice.  And because of that, using your winning strategy leaves you unsatisfied. My winning strategy has been to be liked by everyone by being positive, upbeat, and fun. And that sounds like a great way to be, but when it is to overcompensate for my Inner Critic’s belief that I am not good enough, it is a bottomless pit.  When my Inner Critic controlled my life, I had to be liked by everyone.  If anyone was disappointed or upset with me, my Inner Critic tortured me.  

So, when we are conditioned to unconsciously use this winning strategy, we keep using it and don’t realize how much it has been costing us. And what is worse, when we are using our winning strategies from our early childhood, we essentially are using the mind of a young child to navigate life.  So an ivy league educated senior executive can feel like a complete failure or a fraud if her idea is criticized.  

In that moment, she is thinking from the perspective of a rejected or criticized 5-year-old but doesn’t realize it! When you are using your survival mechanism winning strategy, that is not the real you! That is your automatic Inner Critic mind! If you don’t know that you are stuck in your automatic mind, you will perceive your current situation using your automatic emotion you are experiencing--you will get stuck there.  

Most people try to get their life to work the way they think it should by continuing to use this winning strategy. They look at where they currently are in life, what has happened so far in their life, and what they want their life to be moving forward. But the issue with looking at life in this way, you keep using the same thoughts and beliefs that you’ve been using since you were a child.  

In my case, no matter how great my life is going, my Inner Critic will focus on where she thinks I am not good enough. If my teenagers are being grumpy teenagers, my Inner Critic will convince me that they don’t love me enough and I messed them up because I was too much of this or not enough of that. As my husband likes to point out to me, I will focus on the 5% that doesn’t match my ideal, rather than the 95% of my life that is extraordinary. Sound familiar?  

So what is getting in the way of making your life work? Your Inner Critic mind is constantly directing you to find happiness by trying to change either you or your circumstances. In fact, most of your energy goes into trying to manipulate the outside world, and that is because when you were little, it worked!   

Your winning strategy became your winning strategy because at one point in your early life, you got something from it. It felt like if you were the good one, you could avoid the drama you saw your brother was creating. If you were the smart one, you got a lot of praise for that.  

The problem is, now your Inner Critic NEEDS to keep seeking out those highs that you once got. It’s like a drug. Except the high doesn’t last long before your Inner Critic is onto the next search for the high. And you don’t realize that you are creating this yourself. It looks like you are reacting to the people or the circumstances around you.  

True freedom in your life is about being able to clearly see your Inner Critic thoughts and create entirely new thoughts about who you are and what you are capable of. Remember that a belief is just a thought you have been having over and over again. I am not good enough is a thought you have been having since you have been a little kid.  

If you continue to identify with that belief, then you will continue to have the same thoughts that will lead to the same emotions and the same behaviors. This is why you keep getting triggered into the same familiar feelings over and over again. This is why you complain about the same things over and over again.  

If you don’t trust the idea that it is possible to shift into having brand new thoughts from a newly relocated mind that will alter what you believe about yourself and your life, then you will continue to anticipate the same experiences you have had for forever. You won’t believe that it is possible to change who you know yourself to be, and your current experience of life.  

So the executive will have the same automatic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors every time she is met with criticism. Or the entrepreneur will keep procrastinating over and over because she doesn’t realize that her beliefs are rooted in a 5-year-old’s belief that she isn’t good enough and doesn’t have what it takes to succeed.    

The key here is that unless you can clearly see your automatic programming at work, you are caught in it. Your Inner Critic is running you. The only way to change the life you’re living is to clearly know when your Inner Critic programming is running you, interrupt the program, shift into your new mind, and deliberately think brand new thoughts that are rewired into a brand new mind.  

So let’s say right now, you are out of a job or you are getting divorced or you are really worried about one of your kids. You might be feeling like your life is really not working right now. And you might be anxious or depressed about your current circumstance. Where your power lies is not just about changing the current circumstances.  

Because you can take all the actions you can take to find a new job, but how you feel about yourself and your life is completely separate. So if you are listening to your Inner Critic’s running commentary about all of the things you did wrong, or that you aren’t good enough, or what someone else did wrong. 

But what is actual reality, is that the only thing that is occurring right now is that you don’t have a job or you are ending your marriage. Your Inner Critic is telling you that these circumstances are something that you should worry about. Your Inner Critic will agonize, worry, fret, focus on possible worst outcomes. And that is when you can no longer feel joy.  

And if your Inner Critic runs out of things to worry about, it will start to complain about you, the life you’ve led, the people in your life and then might even start to spread it’s negative rants to the world we are living in right now and the problems in our government or schools. And then you will be convinced that you, your life, the world as a whole is just one big shit show that wasn’t supposed to be this way!  

But you still think that your lack of a job or your impending divorce is the thing that is making you feel this way. And so you are convinced that once those issues rectify themselves, all will be well. But I want to remind you that when you did have a job, all was not well. You had the same Inner Critic worrying about something or complaining about something. 

Your worry and complaining is what robs you of joy. It adds nothing but heaviness-- like you are carrying a big sack of rocks on your back that you won’t put down until the circumstances change. And many times, that heaviness actually stops you from taking the actions to change the circumstances! 

We definitely have circumstances--some which don’t look the way we thought they would. But that is not a problem! It’s a circumstance. What makes it a problem is the voice of your Inner Critic. The circumstance exists.  

But the struggle is from your automatic thoughts about it. Worrying about it, crying about it, drinking a bottle of wine or downing a pint of Ben and Jerry's or even asking other people what you should do, won’t change the circumstance.  

What if you could remain calm and at peace with exactly the circumstance in your life right now?  Because you can either continue to identify with your Inner Critic thoughts and get caught in all the pain and drama, or you could rewire completely new thoughts that create happiness and joy in your life right now, even with the current circumstance.  

Your circumstances have nothing to do with your joy. The purpose of your life is to see how much pain and suffering you are creating when you are waiting for the outside world to make you feel good. All of your feelings of disappointment, irritability, anger, jealousy, fear-- are really just from your Inner Critic saying, “My value and worthiness depends on me having this thing go the way I want”, whether that is to be adored by others, or even to feel secure with a new job or relationship.  

You are the only one that is responsible for loving and valuing yourself. Not because of what you have or haven’t accomplished, or how much money you make. What would it be like to learn to love yourself unconditionally?  

You might have circumstances you want to change--that’s great! But those circumstances have nothing to do with loving yourself! Can you imagine being able to feel love and gratitude and joy, and have your current circumstances be exactly the same?! When you are able to have a calm mind, that is when you have access to your intuition.  

When you can get out of your Inner Critic mind and ground yourself in the present moment, you might be able to see that your suffering is not caused by the current circumstance but by your automatic thoughts. When you are separate from your Inner Critic mind, you'll feel a stillness, one that you don't have to manufacture. It's been there all along, under all that Inner Critic thinking about "what to do." 

You'll be able to see the difference between here's the situation and here is what my mind is saying about the situation, or, in other words between: "I might lose my job" and "I might lose my job, which will mean I'll lose my house and have to take my daughter out of her school and move in with my parents, so I have to get another job by the end of the week, even if there are no jobs and I'm not skilled enough to get one." 

This doesn't mean that you completely disregard or ignore the future and it doesn't mean that you can no longer think about what you're going to do tomorrow. It just means that the focus of your attention is in the present moment. You need to plan for certain things but always come back to just what's really happening right here, right now. 

Because when you connect with that stillness, you also connect with creative intelligence that is higher than your automatic thinking. When you are present and your mind is calm, the right decision can arise spontaneously. It may not happen immediately. 

It may take continuing to practice separating yourself from your Inner Critic mind to cultivate peace moment by moment throughout your day, but this is exactly what gives your authentic self the room and silence it needs to rise to the surface. This is how you figure out what is the next right action to take.   And that’s all you really need to know, is what is the very next action.  Not what are all the actions I need to take to change this circumstance.  

For many years, my winning strategy had me focused on what I thought my life should be. When I stopped taking guidance from my Inner Critic, I started listening to what my life wants to do with ME. I have goals I am working towards, but those goals aren’t going to come from my Inner Critic who continues to push me to be better and better.  

The extraordinary unfolding of my life comes from knowing the difference between ME and the voice of my Inner Critic and finding my value not from anything outside of myself. Making your life work is about no longer waiting for anyone or anything to give you your value. To break free from your Inner Critic’s grip so you stop blaming either yourself or someone else for why your life doesn’t work.   

To access your soul, your true authentic self, by seeing that you have always been separate from your Inner Critic, you just didn’t know it. And when you are separate from her, you realize what I consider to be the key: Your Inner Critic has been trying to fix something that has never been broken in the first place. 

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