Tell Your Inner Critic to Shush

How to be less self critical

“You should be more successful”

“You should be a better parent”

“You shouldn’t have bothered to try”

“You are failing like you always do”

"You are not smart/pretty/thin/stylish/organized/calm/fabulous enough"

If these are some of the thoughts that run through your head on a regular basis, I have some bad news to share with you;

You have an inner critic.

An inner critic who is kind of a jerk, has taken up residence in your head and does not pay rent.

In addition to being a lousy tenant, your inner critic can have a huge impact on your life. It may lead to:

  • fear of trying new things
  • feeling easily frustrated when things aren't working
  • believing that making mistakes = failures
  • fear of being “found out” as an impostor
  • inability to enjoy the present moment because you're stuck in your head with your critic
  • feeling like you have a “fatal flaw” 
  • trying to “prove yourself” - overextending self, saying yes to things you don’t want to do

One of the most frustrating things about the inner critic is that you feel that you will never measure up to the arbitrary rules that the inner critic creates (I'm pretty sure that the inner critic spends way too much time on Pinterest) creating a sense of constant failure.

So how do you shush the inner critic?

  1. become aware of your inner critic. We cannot change what we do not notice. It may suck to listen to the non-stop negative chatter, but it's gotta be done!
  2. notice what happens when you have the critical thoughts; how do you react? how do you feel? do you try to argue with the critic or accept the criticism as fact?
  3. understand that the inner critic is NOT YOU. It is a voice that has been developed over the years based on thousands of messages from various sources (eg. your family of origin, teachers, friends, romantic partners, society)
  4. begin to make room for a more compassionate voice, your inner cheerleader
  5. when the inner critic starts to chatter, tell it to shush, and replace it with kinder thoughts (this is going to be super hard to to at first!)

Here are some examples of kinder thought:

  • “It was my first time trying, of course I didn’t know how to do it.”
  • “It is understandable that I’m nervous before my first day at a new job.”
  • “I’m okay with the fact that I’m a terrible cook.”

It will likely feel weird at first to be so nice to yourself! It will also take a lot of practice and slipping back into inner critic mode will happen.

Be patient with yourself.

Be kind to yourself.

Tell the inner critic that its getting a new roommate.

 

Don't Be A Footnote in Your Own Story

We all have our own story, however it can often feel that we are rarely the main character in ours. It may feel that you are often a minor character that's helping everyone else live out their story. 

Worse, you may even feel like a footnote; you're there but not in any significant way. 

This can be a terrible feeling. In this video, I discuss how to step into your own story and finally take centre stage. 

Ditch Elf on the Shelf (or not.....it totally depends)

The holidays can be full of fun and joyful traditions. The holidays can also be full of activities that we really don't enjoy, but feel that we "should."

In this week's video, I discuss getting rid of holiday related activities that aren't enjoyable or fun. So feel free to ditch elf on the shelf if he stresses you out....or totally keep him if you enjoy him. 

Coping with Holiday Stress; Play with Toys!

The holidays can be stressful, and it is very important to make sure that you make time for self-care. In this video, I am joined by a few special guests; Shopkins!. These tiny, plastic, grocery items are a huge hit with kids. However, that does not mean that adults cannot play with them either! Playing with toys can be really fun! Check out this post  for more ways to cope with holiday stress.  

How Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse is Totally Self-Care

A few weeks ago I was invited to a birthday party; the activity for the party was axe throwing! Who knew that we even had an axe throwing club in London, Ontario??? Turns out it was amazingly fun and awesome self-care. In this video I discuss why axe throwing totally counts as self-care (and there may be some footage of me even doing some axe throwing ;). 

Winter Driving and Big Feelings; I Swear They are Related!

Big Feelings and Winter Driving

I had a bit of a terrifying experience this past weekend; I was driving back to London, Ontario from a conference in Blue Mountain and it was snowing.

Snowing in October.

Driving in an unfamiliar rental car with no snow tires.

Curvy, country roads.

Less snowing, and more blizzardy, snow squally, white out, cannot see anything, conditions.

I was going around a bend, approaching a stop sign and I started braking.

And then I started sliding.

I slid through the stop sign and  was frantically slamming down on the brakes. The car started to overcorrect and nearly went into the ditch.

(Luckily there were no other cars on the road at this point, or I likely would have taken out some poor souls with me.)

And then I remembered.

When you lose control, take your foot off the brake and drive into the skid.

It’s a metaphor that I often use in sessions when talking about intense emotions. When you feel an intense emotion starting to bubble up, often the responses is to slam on the brakes. You may try to distract yourself from the feeling. You may shame, judge or criticize yourself for having the feeling.  You may try to shove that feeling away into a box, lock it up tight and hope that you never have to feel it again.

Usually this response is because you are afraid. You panic. You think that if you allow yourself to feel the intensity of the feeling, you will get swept up in and be lost forever. You slam on the brakes and hope that the feeling goes away.

It doesn't.

You may delay the experiences.  You may muddy the emotional waters and be later confused by reactions that don’t quite make sense to you.

However, if you take your foot off the break and drive into skid; the fear, the sadness, the anger, the suffering, you may be surprised what happens.

You will feel it, yes. It may feel painful and terrifying (as terrifying as nearly sliding into a ditch in snow squall conditions) but you will regain control. The intensity will subside. You will have survived.

As I literally took my own foot off the brake and drove into the skid, I started to gain control of the car. I slowed down, took a deep breath, and just kept driving. Within minutes, the squall passed, the roads were clear and the sun was shining high in the sky.

The next time you feel yourself skidding into uncomfortable territory, please don’t lay on the brakes.  Allow yourself to feel it, even if it is so, so scary. I get how terrifying it is. However, it will pass, the intensity will subside and you will be on a clearer, smoother path soon.

It's Cooling Down and I'm Freaking Out; Coping with September Stress

September can be hard. The lazy days of summer are over. It’s back to school season. You may be sending anxious kids back to school or even going back to school yourself. Most people are back from vacation, so there are more cars on the road, more people in the stores and it feels a bit apocalyptic (I tried to buy a case of regular water the day after Labour Day, and they were completely sold out; almost every visitor to my London, Ontario office commented on my new snazzy collection of flavoured waters!). You may be back from a relaxing summer and there is no more vacation time planned for months. Things that you put on your fall to-do list can no longer be avoided. Things that you hoped would be better after the summer haven’t actually improved. You are still worrying. You still feel overwhelmed. You have been able to keep that burnt out feeling at bay, but it slowly starting to creep in again. How do you cope with September stress? 1.       Acknowledge that this can be a tough transition and set realistic expectations for how you will likely react. All change can be stressful and it is normal to feel overwhelmed when establishing new routines. 2.       Don’t over-schedule yourself. The fall is usually the time when new opportunities present themselves; new committees, new projects, new activities. Be selective in the things you sign yourself (or your kids!) up for. 3.       Build down-time into your schedule. New routines can be exhausting so ensure that you have blank spots in your calendar. You need time to rest, veg out and recuperate. 4.       Increase self-care. When stress levels go up, the level of self-care should go up as well. However, what typically happens is that when stress goes up, self-care goes down and feelings of being overwhelmed increase. Check out the Burnt Out to Blissed Out micro-retreat if you crave a self-care experience. 5.       Look for things that are awesome in September; you may love the cooling weather or seeing the leaves slowly start to change colour. One of my absolute favourite things about September is starting to pull out some cooler weather clothing; sweaters, boots, and flannel pyjamas! If you had hoped that the summer would help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed, and you’re still struggling, that may be a sign that this is more than just September stress.  Please feel free to contact me at my London, Ontario counselling practice to see if working with a psychologist could be beneficial.  

September can be hard.

The lazy days of summer are over.

It’s back to school season. You may be sending anxious kids back to school or even going back to school yourself.

Most people are back from vacation, so there are more cars on the road, more people in the stores and it feels a bit apocalyptic (I tried to buy a case of regular water the day after Labour Day, and they were completely sold out; almost every visitor to my London, Ontario office commented on my new snazzy collection of flavoured waters!).

You may be back from a relaxing summer and there is no more vacation time planned for months. Things that you put on your fall to-do list can no longer be avoided.

Things that you hoped would be better after the summer haven’t actually improved.

You are still worrying.

You still feel overwhelmed.

You have been able to keep that burnt out feeling at bay, but it slowly starting to creep in again.

How do you cope with September stress?

1.       Acknowledge that this can be a tough transition and set realistic expectations for how you will likely react. All change can be stressful and it is normal to feel overwhelmed when establishing new routines.

2.       Don’t over-schedule yourself. The fall is usually the time when new opportunities present themselves; new committees, new projects, new activities. Be selective in the things you sign yourself (or your kids!) up for.

3.       Build down-time into your schedule. New routines can be exhausting so ensure that you have blank spots in your calendar. You need time to rest, veg out and recuperate.

4.       Increase self-care. When stress levels go up, the level of self-care should go up as well. However, what typically happens is that when stress goes up, self-care goes down and feelings of being overwhelmed increase. Check out the Burnt Out to Blissed Out micro-retreat if you crave a self-care experience.

5.       Look for things that are awesome in September; you may love the cooling weather or seeing the leaves slowly start to change colour. One of my absolute favourite things about September is starting to pull out some cooler weather clothing; sweaters, boots, and flannel pyjamas!

If you had hoped that the summer would help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed, and you’re still struggling, that may be a sign that this is more than just September stress.  Please feel free to contact me at my London, Ontario counselling practice to see if working with a psychologist could be beneficial.  

Chatting About Self-Care, Mom Guilt and a Black Velour Tracksuit

Self-care | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Self-care | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Last week I had a great opportunity; I was invited to be on the Parenting Rebels podcast.  I got to discuss my definition of self-care, one step you can take immediately to shake the mom guilt (or any guilt actually) and how parenting can be really hard at times.

(I also talk about my amazing wardrobe in those early motherhood days).

I had such a great time doing this podcast and I hope that you enjoy listening to it here.