“I feel old, tired and fat.”

What are your first thoughts in the morning upon awakening?

Recently while leading a “Retrain the Brain” workshop at Kripalu I asked participants to write down in their journals the first thoughts they had upon awakening—either while still in bed or in the bathroom.

After about five minutes we reconvened and I asked them to share their discoveries. Silence prevailed until one brave soul offered up, “I usually start my day telling myself how much I hate all that’s in front of me.”

Another quietly added, “I head right to the mirror, take one look and it reminds me just how old, tired and fat I am.” And yet another, “I wake up just wishing I could do whatever the hell I want—without anyone telling me what to do!” And another, “I can’t stand the bags under my eyes and those hideous puppet lines.” And so it went…

Do you sometimes speak to yourself in ways that are negative or perhaps even self-injurious?

Self-talk dictates how you relate to and feel about yourself and how others relate to you. If, for example you feel like you’ve got nothing valuable to say, you will likely convey that
message to others and perhaps invite disinterest: a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are some effective ways to alter your relationship with this inner critic:

  1. Practice positive self-talk—for your physical and emotional well-being. Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend, a child, or a loved one. Be gentle and supportive with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, quickly evaluate it rationally and then reframe it from a positive and loving perspective.
  2. Name your evil inner critic—an idea suggested by researcher and story teller extraordinaire, Brené Brown. She suggests naming that mean, unsupportive voice—ideally with something that brings you a smile. For example, “The Nag”, “The naysayer”, “Debbie Downer”, “My inner mother.” This helps break through the emotional hold that keeps you small. With practice, you can learn to short circuit the negativity.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people––Make sure your friends and loved ones support you in healthy ways. Protect yourself from those who fall short in the loving kindness department. Negative people increase your stress levels and may feed into the questioning of your own self worth. Don’t hand over your personal power to anyone—that’s yours to own the whole ride through. Remember…you are the CEO of your life!

How might you turn your inner critic into your new best friend?

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.


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