Do you ever compare yourself to others and feel like you’re not good enough? Do you ever find yourself simply believing you’re not worthy of happiness?
If so, you’re not alone. There are many causes for low self-esteem, which can include childhood loss, abuse, neglect, rejection, as well as parental overindulgence. These experiences can cause us to internalize feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and beyond. But regardless of the specific experiences that contributed to any current self-worth issues you’re having, there is only one true way to heal – and that is to cultivate a more positive relationship with yourself, and specifically with your inner critic. Those who suffer from low self-worth tend to have a pathological relationship with this critic, as it judges, criticizes and blames them on a regular basis. It makes sense: if your inner critic is constantly telling you that you’re weak, incompetent, and stupid, you will become fixated on these debilitating stories, rather than on personal growth.
How you think dictates how you feel, and most of us don’t realize that the key to finding emotional freedom is recognizing that we can choose to identify with these past stories – or to merely recognize them, and then let them go. That’s why I’ve created this 7-day challenge. To start the challenge, you’ll need to wear an elastic band around your wrist and snap it as instructed. You don’t have to snap hard; the purpose is not punishment but simply to help you gain awareness of your pathological self-talk.
Day 1: Commit to the challenge.
Set your intention to develop a positive relationship with yourself.
Write your seven-day commitment on three sticky notes and put them in places you will see (your wallet, light switch, computer screen).
Remind yourself of your commitment at least 10 times today.
Day 2: Gain Awareness.
In order to break any bad habit, you must first be highly aware of it – what triggers it, what exacerbates it, and so on.
Since your inner voice is with you all the time, it has become very familiar – which makes this step a bit tricky.
Today, your job will be to cultivate an acute awareness of the workings of your inner critic.
Pretend that you are watching a movie in your mind.
The star of this movie is your inner critic – that voice who likes to torment you. Anytime you notice the critic judging, criticizing and making up stories about you, simply snap the elastic band.
Day 3: Challenge your inner critic.
Instead of getting hooked into the drama of your own mental movies, start challenging your inner critic.
Any time you notice a negative thought, snap the elastic band and ask yourself:
- Is this thought helpful?
- Are there more positive substitutes for the thoughts I’m having?
- How would I feel if I chose better thoughts?
Day 4: Treat yourself well.
Every time you notice the critic today, snap the elastic band and ask yourself:
- Would I say this to my best friend?
If the answer is no, change your thoughts to something you would say.
Treating yourself like your own best friend will positively alter your life in ways you cannot imagine.
Day 5: Practice being kind to others.
You might be kind to others when they are in front of you, but do you gossip, blame and judge them behind their backs, or in your mind?
The truth is that kindness, toward ourselves and toward others, will flourish when we realize our fundamental connectedness. If you are treating others unkindly, even if it’s in your mind, you will not be setting yourself up to be gentler with yourself.
So the next time you catch the critic picking on others, snap the elastic band and say something productive about that person.
You will soon start to see how more positive thoughts towards others creates a more loving internal environment for you.
Day 6: Keep yourself in check.
Your inner voice can be relentless. It is used to having all of your attention and so it will fight to keep it. As a result, the critic may become louder and stronger for a while.
Instead of giving in, snap the elastic band when you notice it and remind yourself that:
- The critic has no power unless you believe it.
- You don’t have to listen to it.
- You are not a helpless victim to your inner critic.
Day 7: Keep Practicing.
Any time you catch yourself allowing your inner critic to undermine your self-worth, snap the elastic band and ask yourself: Do I want to feel good or bad in this moment?
Remind yourself that you have the power more than anyone or anything, and boosting your self-worth is ultimately YOUR choice.