Are You Your Own Toughest Critic? You’re Not Alone

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Following my first blog post on the Huffington Post, I got so many emails and other feedback from so many people saying how much they identified with the idea of “not-enoughness” so I wrote a follow up to it. I want to make sure people know that this is an area that we (almost) all struggle with! Read on here: Are You Your Own Toughest Critic? You’re Not Alone.

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Get out of Your Own Way

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am, and I witness my clients, sometimes in the way of progress. Thankfully, awareness washes over and helps us to realize when we need to step aside. One client, May, is training for her first ever marathon, the New York City Marathon that happens in less than a month. May is committed, has hired the right trainers to support her and continually completes the prescribed runs, the distances of which exceed what she’d ever thought possible. A model client.

At every step up in mileage, May has doubted her ability to finish. At first, 10, then 12, then 16 miles seemed endless and improbable. Now 10 requires much less mental fortitude, and four miles is a “rest” day. Along the way, she certainly has entertained thoughts of “I can’t do it” and “this is f-ing far”, but she’s persevered.

One Saturday, May woke at 5am for an 18-mile run (the longest run in her running history!). She aimed to finish, but at around 16.5 miles, she petered out while thinking “I am DONE! I can’t go any further.” With these simple thoughts,she got in her own way. May spent the rest of the day exhausted from her run, but more disappointingly, she beat herself up about the 1.5 miles she hadn’t run. She didn’t celebrate the mileage clocked – the longest run in her running history and a 92% effort! In my book, such an effort (on top of her efforts as a parent, full-time professional and attentive spouse) is something to rejoice!

To combat her disappointment, I encouraged May to push the negative talk out (get out of our own way) by inserting instead more productive discourse – both out loud and in her own head! Imagine if that inner voice said “I’m a natural runner” and “18 miles – no brainer!” Our minds are powerful and can make real what we think and believe.

“We need to uphold that aspect of the person which is the real person and the soul beyond their own self-doubt.” Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Alchemical Wisdom

In other words, it’s our own self-doubt – our own mindset – that stands in the way of being our best selves! Step aside and eradicate that self-doubt!

  • Be laser-focused on the goal. Clearly define what your goals and dreams are. After all, we need to know what it all looks like in order strive for it. For May, the New York Marathon, with all of its hoopla is easy to imagine. And then, ask yourself why you want to achieve it. What’s your compelling reason?
  • Revel in the baby steps you take toward your goal. What you can accomplish today is more than what you could yesterday. In May’s case, running three miles, then four in the beginning was progress to be proud of, even though her 100% is 26.2.
  • Celebrate sub-100% victories. There will be times where you set goals, and fall short in the process. (May’s 16.5 instead of 18.) Keys to moving forward are (1) finding achievement in what you actually accomplished (92%!), and (2) considering “what must I do to get to where I want to be?” instead of beating yourself up for the “failure.”
  • Use mantras. Replace unproductive thoughts and self-talk with content that allows you to believe that victory is possible. Leave no space for self-doubt. Your mindset is prophetic – you end up accomplishing what you think you can. Consider May’s “I can’t go any further” – she made herself right.

We are born with unlimited possibilities. Unfortunately, through our lives (our own personal marathons), we learn to curb that promise, lower expectations and often live in a state of “good enough.” Start in your own head, step aside and release that potential! Do whatever it takes to be the best that you can be. I know May’s gonna kick ass in November!