How I Personally Cope With Shame

 

Today, I want to talk about shame. It's something that I am very familiar with in my own life. In fact, many people struggle with shame and don’t even realize that is what they are dealing with. We grow accustomed to listening to the incessant chatter of the voice in our head, the voice I call the Inner Critic.

When I talk about shame, I'm not talking about anyone actually DOING anything wrong. I'm talking about the FEELING and the thoughts that we are somehow wrong, defective, inadequate, not good enough, or not strong enough. Everyone feels shame, but most of us don’t recognize the forms that shame can come in. For instance:

  • Shyness is shame in the presence of a stranger
  • Self-doubt is shame about a possible failure
  • Embarrassment is shame in front of others
  • Self-consciousness is shame about how you are perceived
  • Feeling not good enough is all-encompassing shame about yourself

Our Inner Critic triggers shame by whipping up habitual thoughts that...

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The Truth About Anxiety and How to Use it to Your Advantage

Anxiety is part of being human. It’s something I have dealt with for my whole life and I really didn’t even know it.  Before I began the journey of separating myself from the habitual thoughts in my mind (which I call the inner critic), I thought it was normal to let my mind constantly focus on the future. I thought that all of my thoughts of trying to manage and perfect myself and my life was just how you were supposed to do life. I was completely blind to what it cost me in time, energy, joy, satisfaction, and gratitude. I thought the idea “Once I get there” was just normal.

Given that human beings have been suffering from their own thoughts for thousands of years, it is astounding to me that it is not yet part of our culture to learn how to manage our minds. Right now, over 40 million adults suffer from an anxiety disorder. But many people think they are alone and that they are not normal. Albert Einstein said we can’t solve problems by using...

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How to Embrace Change

As human beings, millions of years ago our primitive brain needed predictability and control. We only had to deal with the feeling of fear if we were running from a predator. Because of this, our brains are designed to try to make us stay comfortable. 

For me, my comfort zone is when everyone I love is happy and healthy. As a mom raising two teenage boys and a pre-teen girl, I am often uncomfortable because my mind has a really bad habit of worrying about the future. That's the voice that I call the Inner Critic. 

When my Inner Critic is running amuck in my mind, she's constantly worried about the future. Are my kids rotting their brains with their obsession with their devices? Will my oldest son get into the college he wants? How is my daughter's first year of middle school going to be? Will my middle son ever come back around and decide he actually wants to hang out with us? 

...And then my mind will go through other future scenarios, like what's going to happen...

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Learning How to Cope With Your Inner Critic

Today, I'm pulling back the curtains to tell you more about my journey of dethroning my Inner Critic.

We've all heard the saying, "We teach that which we most need to learn." And that's definitely true to for me. Even though I had a relatively normal childhood, I can remember frequently feeling a lot of anxiety growing up. I felt like at any moment I would be judged, criticized or rejected by a friend or a teacher. 

I never felt this from my parents, but the outside world seemed somewhat daunting and dangerous. In the first grade, I had social anxiety so bad that my mother came to school to sit with me during lunch for the first two weeks of school. I was a shy kid that didn't feel comfortable sleeping at other kids' houses. I also spent a lot of time worrying about my parents' relationship. 

My parents had a somewhat rocky relationship and the environment in my home could be a bit unpredictable as I never knew when the next screaming match would ensue between them. So,...

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What Jim Morrison Can Teach Us About Life

Jim Morrison once said, “People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all…. feelings are disturbing."

From childhood, we are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. Because of this, any time we feel pain, we try to hide that we're not happy. We'll do anything to avoid those negative emotions. 

In the decades that I've been a psychotherapist, I've discovered that we're really creative in how we try to avoid our pain. We'll attempt to eat the bad feelings away. Some people will drink, use drugs, or gamble to avoid these emotions. Others become workaholics or even exercise to excess to avoid that belief that they'll never be happy. 

In fact, many of us spend more energy trying to keep away from these difficult feelings than it would take to actually face our fears. 

We are conditioned to believe that the definition of happiness is freedom from pain or difficulty. So many of us believe that feeling negative or painful...

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Shame: A Feast For The Inner Critic

Let's get real--everyone feels embarrassed sometimes.

You’re sure that you were right, and it turns out that you were wrong. 

You were late for your best friend’s wedding. 

Your zipper was open or your skirt got tucked into your underpants. 

Yes, your red face lasts for a few seconds then fades. You might blush every time you remember over the next day. But you DO forget. Eventually, you don't even remember that moment. But shame is another story.

Shame can last a lifetime.

It can begin in childhood when a teacher says, “you should be ashamed of yourself.” When you misbehave, your mother might tell you she's ashamed of you. Every time you do something wrong or make a mistake this feeling of shame gets reinforced. 

Eventually, shame becomes an ingrained, conditioned response any time you don’t meet your own idealized image of being right (or being good or being strong or being smart or being anything less than perfect).

This becomes a...

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How Your Inner Critic Makes You Go Dumb

What happens when you get stuck in confusion? When you are just uncertain about what is going on in your life, what is actually going on? This might surprise you, but it comes down to fear and your Inner Critic trying to suppress your emotions. Tune in to this week’s episode of the Dethroning Your Inner Critic Podcast to hear Joanna’s take on your Inner Critic Making you go dumb:

Here are this week’s reflection questions:

  • Where are you stuck in confusion, or the “I don’t know” in your life?
  • What feelings come up for you around making decisions: past, present, and future?
  • What’s the next decision that you’re going to make?
  • Those emotions that you don’t want to feel: where is that emotion in your body?
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Your Inner Critic and Your Relationships

On this week’s episode of the Dethroning Your Inner Critic Podcast, Joanna talks about how to rewire your automatic thoughts that affect your automatic reactions regarding relationships. She talks about how your Inner Critic takes control of your emotions to make you feel like a victim in relationships.

Here are this week’s reflection questions:

  • Where is your Inner Critic hiding in your relationships with others?
  • What’s the impact of your Inner Critic’s messages on your current relationships with the people who matter the most to you?
  • What expectations of your Inner Critic are you currently listening to?

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People Pleasing and Your Inner Critic

This week on The Dethroning Your Inner Critic Podcast, Joanna is talking about people pleasing: what it means, why it happens, and how to talk to the people pleaser in yourself to take back control. People pleasing is a huge operating tactic for the Inner Critic, she latches on to the thoughts you may have about upsetting someone and uses those thoughts to control your interactions with others. To transform your life, it’s imperative that you become intimately familiar with these old, automatic, conditioned thoughts that come from your Inner Critic.

Here are this week’s reflection questions:

  • What is the voice inside your head truly saying when you say “yes” to something that you don’t want to do?
  • When was that time in your childhood when your Inner Critic latched on to your feelings of unworthiness?
  • What can you do today to recognize when these conditioned thoughts from your Inner Critic are appearing?

Access our favorite tools and exclusive...

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Is Your Inner Critic Being a B*$ch about Spring?

Now that it’s Spring, we’re putting away our winter coats. The daffodils are out, the sun is shining, and the days are longer. Many of us feel the pull to spend more time outside, clear away the cutter in our homes, or maybe take on a new eating or exercise routine.

For others, the change of the season is just another reason for their Inner Critic to hyper-focus on what is missing in their life. The newness of Spring is another reminder that someone else is happier. (And if you need proof, just take a look at your Instagram feed!)

When it feels like life is better for your Facebook friends on the beach for Spring break, your Inner Critic is jumping straight into the “shoulding”. She’s saying, “It’s Spring. Everyone loves Spring. You should too. You’re supposed to be happy! Everyone else is!”

Does any of this sound familiar? You’re not alone.

Here’s the thing: When your Inner Critic is triggered by the newness of...

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