If you are new in recovery or need to get into a more recovery-based mindset you likely struggle with self-criticism. You have probably asked yourself before, “Why do I have thoughts that are so negative about myself and why can’t I get out of the repetitive cycle of being my own worst critic?”
Before you scroll to the end where I outline the solution and the Daily Practice to Amp your Vibe, know that understanding the WHY you’re in a self-critical pattern of thinking is often as important as learning the HOW to get out of living in the I AM “fill in the blank” state of self-criticism.
Why Self-Criticism Exists
WHY you end up in self-critical thinking and sabotaging your joy and your recovery momentum is often due to lack of self-compassion and an over-stimulated, over-fed monkey in your head.
Monkey mind tells you that the rest of the world has a yardstick of judgment to decide whether you are good or bad. You internalize the yardstick of judgment and begin to believe you are less than.
Monkey mind finds fertile ground in your childhood through magical thinking and can grow to be one of the ways we entertain ourselves as children. That’s not a bad thing and is totally age appropriate for the stage of development when we are young
As an adult, retraining your thinking requires daily practice. If you allow yourself to believe and attach meaning to every thought you have, you tend to base your value on non-factual elements.
Children look for evidence to see how their value is mirrored back to them through family and friends. Because as kiddos, without a fully developed brain, we compartmentalize into categories of value: I am good or I am bad.
The Old Story You May Have Told Yourself
Growing up did you ever wonder when someone giggled under their breath if they were laughing at you?
Have you ever had someone look at you and with their resting b**** face, roll their eyes while looking right at you? Or did they give you the once-over from head to toe? Did you attach meaning to the encounter that sounds like, “something must be wrong with me or she/he wouldn’t be looking at me in that way.”
The problem with this over-active and frankly noisy monkey mind is that if you don’t have tactics regarding how you attach meaning to your value, your thinking leads to a run-off of negativity aimed directly at the core of who you are. This can turn into a habitual spiral that leads to using destructive coping mechanisms as you slink through life believing that people or events outside of you really do have yardsticks to measure your worth.
In your struggle of trying to skirt self-criticism, you allow yourself to fall out of alignment in your own power center. You were born in all of your preciousness just like the next person.
So how about the times when others place judgment on us? Here is a quick little fact about judgment when you feel it from another:
It takes 1/10 of a second for someone to make a judgment about you.
There isn’t much you can do to control 1/10 of a second. But you can refuse to fall prey to someone else’s bias and judgment.
If you can maintain a healthy sense of self and boundaries, your compassion for the humanity of the other person lost in their judgment or bias really is like a shield that reflects all the negative energy back onto the person… because you refuse to carry their shameless behavior.
Do you remember the very first time you felt that you weren’t accepted?
If you find there are a lot of memories of you being self-critical, or giving away your power to another’s judgment, ask yourself if you were to retell the memory to a trusted friend, would they be as critical towards you?
Is the meaning-making of those past memories and that habitual mindset that your destructive self-grew out of, the monkey in your mind, still holding you in a limited, self-critical way?
When you are learning to have a recovery-based mindset, a lot of old messaging can flood your thinking regarding the yard-stick mentality of how well you measure-up in recovery.
Allowing yourself to have self-compassion, be imperfect, and by giving yourself permission to be a spiritual being having a human experience you will begin the process of directing your thoughts to a more growth-based, recovery-based mindset. These strategies below will help you begin the process.
Three Strategies for Catching and Releasing Monkey Mind Thinking
STRATEGY #1~ Catch the Monkey Mind in Action
You really have to be in your awareness to block the mind-trail set up by Monkey Mind.
There are stages of change in recovery. The Action Stage of Recovery is where you are if you are serious about implementing strategies to keep recovery success a top priority.
At one time, you lived in a pre-contemplative stage where you didn’t think you had a problem. Monkey mind got set-up on autopilot and repeat play.
As an adult, you get to choose to be in your awareness and begin filtering and questioning your automatic thinking.
Be on the lookout for when you go “offline” in your awareness because monkey mind loves it when you aren’t present. This allows space for the ruminating and repetitive old negative ways of thinking. When you come across a self-critical thought that makes you feel like something isn’t right with you, implement strategy 2.
STRATEGY #2~ Check the Monkey Mind Thought for Loop Holes
- Do you believe the thought to be true forever and always?
- Are you stuck on a “should” thought—is your expectation realistic?
- Are you able to be in your emotions and allow the message of your feelings to expand your awareness of who you are and what you need and want?
- Did you get stuck in the future telling and predicting outcomes?
- Is your thought based on a catastrophic ending, outcome, or impending doom?
These are the most common patterns of negative thinking and they can usually be found with a lot of loopholes, leaving room for a SHIFT in your perception~~~
STRATEGY #3~ Replace Monkey Mind with a more Expansive Belief
You may not totally believe the thought and that is ok. You are choosing to replace the self-critical, negative thought with the new thought allowing space for you to be expansively in the present moment with the option to believe differently.
When you create space not to believe the old messaging, you allow space for imperfections, and fear, and for whatever is showing up to be healed. This gets you out of reactive disordered thinking and into the opportunity to respond and choose what you want to believe about yourself.
As an adult, you get to decide where you believe your value comes from.
You have the option of beginning each day with the intent to create a new belief to anchor into in regard to your value. Try saying this to yourself as a new belief as often as you can each day:
My value isn’t measurable. I am no less than or better than anyone else. Nothing can give me my value… It is a constant, inherent birthright.
The daily repetition of this thought alone can undo years of fear-based, self-critical thinking——-And you know what, It Works! I know it works because it’s one I have used many, many times when I feel a sense of shame through self-critical thinking.
Daily Practice to Amp Your Vibe:
Make a written or mental list of all the awesome things that make you unique.
- Notice them
- Look for them
- Seek out reasons to celebrate them
And then put all that you find on repeat play in your mind. This is the power of a mantra. Each time your monkey mind starts telling you nonsense, Catch It and then decide whether or not you want to give it the power to magnify.
It is a choice where you attach meaning and power.
The monkey that wonders what everyone else is thinking or holds you, hostage, convincing you to play small and limited will not have room to thrive when surrounded by loving, joyful, kind thoughts.
You will begin to believe you are the soulful expression of the individual you were born to be.
You will give up caring what others think of you.
You won’t look to compare yourself and you will shift from being self-critical to being full of self-compassion, self-love, and self-esteem… which no one unless you allow it, can take from you. You will celebrate the inner knowing that there is no such thing as normal and you will, over time, stop using the yard-stick to measure your worth.
Download my free I AM Solution and start crafting your own daily mantras.
Lorri Lancashire is the founder of High Vibe Soul, LLC. a coaching program for women that struggle with recovery from food related issues and negative body image. Lorri works as a mindset coach and is also a Masters clinician as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas. She has a private practice working with individuals and couples. Lorri is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist through IAEDP (International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals). She has trained with Pia Mellody, the Beck Institute, and Terrance Real and is completing her training as an RLT therapist.