The battle for self acceptance: Why having humility is the secret weapon
“Who do you think you are? Oprah!” shouts the snarky mean girl [otherwise known as my dreaded inner critic]. She strikes during my most fragile moments, telling me I am inadequate, stupid, and weak. This inner mean girl and her self-hate propaganda says why I shouldn’t or can’t do something, all the while continuing to pass an insane amount of harsh and unfair judgment. The sole purpose of the inner critic is to cheapen our worth and prevent us from sharing our gifts with others. Only healthy forms of vulnerability will render it powerless.
Vulnerable in the therapy world translates to strength [while scared] so lets talk about being brave. The kind of bravery I’m referring to comes in many forms. A common one nowadays is self-deprecating humor [cheers to humility]. I think once you’ve embraced vulnerability as your ally [versus enemy] you get more visits from the humble fairy [I like her]. The humble fairy keeps things real! As a therapist I’ve found that everyone has their own version of an inner critic so I’ve put together a list of three ways you can be brave and learn how to embrace your quirks and imperfections. After all, perfect is boring so why aspire to be.
- Own it! People see you. They hear you. They of course have an interpretation of you [not that this should overly concern you]. Its best to just own the fact that you help yourself to your colleagues candy stash; that you monopolize space or hoard things, or over share on social media; or perhaps you accidently said “f*** me” under your breath on a work related phone message due to a ridiculously long game of phone tag. I’ll let you decide which of the above I own. Bottom line is, embrace it! Who cares? But if you do, its best you own it because unless you own it, it’s never yours to fix!
- Spiral out! Nothing is worse then wanting to crack up while having to keep a solid. Give yourself permission to have a mini meltdown. Find a safe space, a person whom you trust, or a time when you can lose it with minimal damage, and LOSE IT! And then visit tip # 1 because part of the fun of losing it is owning it. Most of us do a really good job of keeping it together on the reg. Its hard work. We have sophisticated strategies for dealing with stress and anger, but sometimes its suitable to regress and just allow yourself to feel and express emotions with out much censorship. Go ahead and throw that much needed tantrum, then clean up the mess and move on. One of my favorite song lyrics is, “there’s beauty in a breakdown”. I think the beauty is found in the freedom to be you, uncut and uncensored, and fully accepting of your emotions in the moment. An added bonus is the lesson learned.
- Just do it! This seems counterintuitive being that I am a therapist who works with clients reporting poor impulse control but lets consider the context. I often tell the story of the time I felt the urge to skip through a parking lot to my car. For a split second my inner mean girl said, “huh, that’s ridiculous. You’ll look foolish”. Luckily for me I didn’t pay much attention and began to skip. It felt GREAT. And I was free. As we get older with more responsibilities [wha wha wha] we often lose our childlike nature. When your inner child comes calling and he or she wants to sing, dance or hop, skip and jump, do it! Lighten up! Give yourself permission to abandon adulting and embrace the role as human, an inherently free spirited being in need for a deeper connection with others. That day I chose to skip to my car was a day I received more smiles from passerby’s than ever before. Interesting tid-bit: I based a therapy group off this experience where I instructed clients to skip through the hall. All participants appeared light, free and joyful. If you don’t believe me, try!
So in response to my inner mean girl’s attempt to shame me. No, I don’t think I’m Oprah. But like all of us, I’m sure she battled insecurity that at times left her paralyzed in fear, lessened her self worth and threatened her dreams. This “noise” is not truth and does not define you or determine what you will accomplish during your life so it’s best not to give it any credence. Whatever you choose to call yours-Remember that the inner critic gets strength when you don’t challenge it, so welcome it! To be human is to be imperfect. To be self-aware is to be humble, which is why I choose to follow these three tips. Kindness starts with loving yourself so accept yourself before you wreck yourself! [Insert chest puff for dramatic effect].
I’d love to hear from you on the topic of self love and living authentically in spite of your inner critic. Share about what holds you back or how you’ve reached a place of self acceptance.