“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~ Louise Hay
Does the critic inside your head tell yourself things like “I’m a moron,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” or a host of other negative thoughts? If it does, you are not alone, as we all seem to have an internal judge who is critical of us and our actions.
I am really working on not judging myself, letting go of the inner critic and practicing self-acceptance, but it is on-going practice. For the last several weeks I have been learning a new skill. When we do something new, we will make mistakes and we must be gentle with ourselves. I was learning about astrophotography and creating star trails. To create a star trail image, you take hundreds of pictures on a tripod of the same part of the sky over several hours and combine them all into one photograph as each photograph captures the movement of the stars. Each night I would try different ISO settings, shutter speeds, white balance settings and a variety of other settings so that I could be most successful during the photo shoot at Oracle State Park under a new moon.
One early morning, I went out to retrieve the camera from the backyard and was expecting to see that the camera had taken 400 pictures only to discover that it had just taken a few images – I had forgotten to change the battery. My inner critic said, “You are such a moron!” I immediately was aware of the inner critic and said to myself, “you just got out of bed and are not totally awake. You made a mistake, it isn’t critical in the big scheme of life. What can you learn from this mistake?” In a matter of seconds, I stopped the inner critic and reframed the situation. The mistake was actually a blessing. With the mistake, I learned that I need to make sure that my batteries are fully charged, but it also got me thinking about how old the rechargeable lithium camera batteries were and I ordered a new one. When the new one arrived, I learned that instead of the battery running out after 400 images, that it could take 650 images on a battery charge and therefore get more images for my star trail. The mistake I made helped me to capture an even better star trail photograph during the actual photo shoot. The star trail image from the new moon is the picture above and the parts that look like clouds are actually the Milky Way. I am so grateful that I learned from my mistake!
It is important to silence the critic in ourselves. We can do this by practicing love and compassion towards ourselves. If you find yourself being critical, stop and appreciate yourself for all you do and all that you are, and send yourself love. If you made a mistake, ask what you can learn from the mistake and how you can rectify what has been done. Be gentle with yourself, try treating yourself with compassion as you would treat a young child who made a mistake. If beating yourself up hasn’t worked over the years, try self-love and approval.
How do you deal with the inner critic?
How can you send yourself more love and approval when your inner critic arises?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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