Help Your Inner Critic Relax
Having an activated inner critic—a voice that’s constantly telling us all the ways in which we aren’t good enough or how we should be different—sucks. It’s painful and usually goes hand-in-hand with guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem. So, it’s completely normal to wish your inner critic would just disappear.
Shoulds are Not a Problem
Shoulds are not a problem to be fixed. You don’t need to stop should-ing on yourself (because this just creates another “should!). The practice is learning to notice the shoulds and acknowledge them for what they really are: your inner critic’s misguided, but genuine, attempt at trying to protect you.
Start approaching your shoulds with an attitude of open curiosity— “Huh, interesting… I'm always telling myself that I should exercise more. I wonder what I'm afraid will happen if I don't?" And then show up for yourself, accepting exactly where you’re at in the moment— “Yep, someday I’d love to get outside and walk every day, and I trust that will happen for me if/when the time is right. I trust myself, and I trust that where I’m at right now is exactly where I’m meant to be.”
Practicing self-compassion rewires neuropathways, making feelings of calm centeredness more accessible to us.
When Shoulds Mean More
Sometimes when we have lots of shoulds happening inside of us it means that we’re on the verge of some big shifts. That we are growing. That we can see a different way of being, an alternative way of going about our lives. We can see the way we want things to be, places where we’d like to go eventually. We’re just not quite there yet. And that’s ok.
It’s ok to see ways in which we’d like to change and not be ready to make those changes. Knowing what you need to do, but not being ready to do it can be really uncomfortable. It’s tempting to be even harder on ourselves during these chapters, which can sometimes last for years. “I know exactly what I should do, I just don’t understand why I can’t actually seem to do it!” Because part of you is ready and onboard, and part of you isn’t. The practice is honoring and having compassion for both parts.
Growth and change are often uncomfortable. They also aren’t processes that can be forced or rushed, especially if the change is deep and personally significant.
Radical Acceptance of Where You’re At
Let’s say you know your relationship is unhealthy and bad for you. You’re should-ing yourself left and right to leave, but you’re still not quite ready to do it. How can you accept where you are and hold compassionate space for both parts of yourself?
Letting ourselves know, “I see you. I understand you aren’t ready, and that’s ok. You will be ready to do _________ whenever the time is right. And I trust that you will know when that time comes,” is radical acceptance in action. This kind of self-compassion, this kind of relaxing into what is, is what allows for change to organically occur.
Change is the only constant. We couldn’t stay the same even if we tried. We are ever evolving, ever growing, ever changing beings. Radical acceptance of ourselves as we are right now (shoulds and all) is just getting out of our own way and making space for our growth to happen unimpeded. It is trust in the fact that we are OK just as we are, trust in our own internal rhythms of expansion and contraction, and that we’ll get where we’re going exactly when we’re meant to.
Looking for an online therapist in Kansas?
Ready to turn your attention inward and understand yourself more deeply? My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing therapy for codependency, therapy for anxiety, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for Highly Sensitive People, and grief and bereavement counseling. I help people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people-pleasing and self-abandonment is possible, and I'm here to help.
I offer online counseling throughout Kansas. Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation. I'd love to hear from you!
Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!