Obviously we are in a weird time. For me it is starting on week four of shelter-in-place. And the lack of personal engagement with others that generally drowns out my inner critic has made her come back with a vengeance, a chip on her shoulder for not paying much attention to her in months.
She reminds me of a five-year-old not getting her way coupled with being hungry and tired. In other words, she is a raving lunatic, an absolute b*tch to deal with. And yet, despite her illogical thinking, I am some how drawn to her, listening to every word she screams at me. And she is screaming a lot lately.
While I have talked about my low self-esteem issue, and how I use positive self-talk to quiet her, these techniques have not helped recently. But I do need to quiet her or I’m going to spiral downward even further, so here is what I am doing.
- Examining where these feelings are coming from. I noticed the other day my inner critic really came out. It was a day without any meetings (first time since I have been in shelter-in-place), so admittedly I wasn’t glued to my desk as much. I truly needed a break from the screen. With all of my meetings being online these days versus in-person, it is a lot of staring at a screen. And my inner critic chastised me for not working as hard. But when I looked at my to do list for the day, all the important and urgent things were done. It was the big personal projects I didn’t get to. You know the ones, that I think I have time for with no commute time and more time at home. When in reality the boundaries of work and home have blurred I feel like I have less time. In essence, I set myself up to fail with an impossible to do list. Now I’m in the midst of breaking down the projects into tasks and making a realistic time frame.
- Remind myself of my accomplishments. I filled out a page of my journal that listed every major accomplishment in my life. From skipping the first grade, to being a published author by 17, to going to graduate school full-time and working full-time, to being VP before 40 and so much more. I am amazing. Take that inner critic!
- Stay out of the negative. On occasion my inner critic says things like “she doesn’t really think you did a good job” or other comments about how others may see me. I have found that not judging other people helps keep her quiet on this. So while my gut wants to judge the large group of people congregating in the courtyard when we should be social distancing, I don’t. This keeps me out of the negative thought process associated, and keeps my inner critic from being as negative.
- Being active. It is really easy these days to slip into sleeping in late, hanging on the couch, getting sucked into streaming episode after episode. But I am trying to stay active, from baking, cooking taking a walk, bike ride, playing with the dogs, etc. Staying active lets me focus on the activity and not paying attention to the inner critic as I focus on the activity. Also, when I am not active, my inner critic is a lot louder, and a lot meaner. Essentially I quiet her a little.
- Practicing self-care. While I may not be able to do some of my favorite self-care activities like a massage, time with a good cup of coffee at the local coffee house, or shopping, I’m still practicing self-care. Sitting outside on a warm morning with a cup of coffee, working on a new craft project, baking sourdough.