Monday, April 30, 2012

Challenge the Critic

I just started taking a Self Esteem and Healthy Relationships class, and so far, it feels like a review of all the things I have been implementing in my life lately.  It isn't like I can't use the reinforcement, because I think all of us need to be reminded of how we can improve our self esteem and build better relationships, but at the same time, I find myself walking out of the class going "I already know this stuff."  Today, I tried changing that thought to "How can I expand on what I already know?"
Self esteem is a funny thing.  It's one of those traits that waxes and wanes, depending on what's going on around me, and in my head.  There are days I am able to look in the mirror, and see the growth and changes I have made, and then there are days when all I see are the things I haven't accomplished yet, or that bother me about myself.  This morning, for instance, while I was brushing my teeth, I was annoyed that my teeth aren't whiter, or that I have a pimple forming on my chin.  I noticed the dark circles under my eyes, and the fact that it was only made worse because I stayed up far too late trying unsuccessfully to upload a video to my Facebook page.  "Technologically inadequate" I told myself, as I pulled at my eyes and sucked in my cheeks.  Walking into the bedroom to get dressed, that little voice that likes to berate me, was taunting me as I picked out my clothes "Who are you trying to impress?  That looks awful.  Those pants make it look like you have no ass..." No matter how much I've built up my positive self esteem, the "negaholic" in me still makes it's way out on a regular basis.
Luckily, I managed to fight off the negativity before I left the house.  Makeup, gel, and a good pair of jeans happen to be very effective in slaying the negative self talk.  It also helped that I managed to get that video uploaded, and proved to myself that despite taking hours to do so, I was not as much of a computer klutz as I led myself to believe.  I'm no Steve Jobs, but I don't need to reinvent the computer, I just have to be patient enough to come up with a solution to my problem.   So, with the accomplishment of "beating the machine," and having successfully made myself look like an amateur supermodel, along with a delicious cup of coffee in hand, I walked to my self esteem class.
We happened to discuss our inner critic during this class.  Oh, the inner critic.  The one we have all worked so hard at perfecting our entire lives.  The one that tells us how we're inadequate, incapable, insufficient, unworthy, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  That little voice that has held us back from reaching goals, standing up for ourselves, and facing reality.  That thing that keeps us stuck in fear, and chains us to our negative thoughts, behaviors, and patterns.  The part of ourselves that tells us we could have done this, should have done that, and it would have been better if...  Yes.  The same inner critic that looked me in the mirror this morning and tried to convince me today was going to be an awful day.
Instead of believing all of what my inner critic had to say, I challenged it.  Concealer, my "make my ass look great" jeans, sarcasm, laughter, and a little persistence, was all it took to push those snide comments that critic was making aside.  I'm not sure I was even aware that I was challenging those negative thoughts in the moment, but after discussing it in class, it was clear that I had been successful in doing so.  Whether it was conscious or unconscious, I managed to turn what could have been an "I hate everything about myself" day, into a "Check you out Miss Thang! Look at all you do!" day.  And it's only 1pm.  And I just finished a blog. Looks like self esteem has taken the lead.

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