Our world is filled with expectations of all kinds – external, internal, societal, realistic, unrealistic, etc. We set standards for ourselves and for others without even being aware we are doing it. We are judgmental and critical when those standards aren’t met, even when we know we shouldn’t be. It’s a harsh reality for me and something I work on everyday.
I see three main ways this criticism is passed – internal dialog, non-verbal communication and verbal communication.
First let’s chat about internal dialog. I was hiking with a friend a few weeks back and we were chatting about this and she called it “Bitch Brain”. I love this title and am stealing it! Bitch Brain is the constant chatter we have in our head judging ourselves and others. It’s often an internal conflict between our thoughts and our reason. It’s our experiences colliding with our subconscious. Think about this… How many times do you look in the mirror and say something negative about your body image but you know that is just self-sabatoge? Or how many times have you passed judgement on someone walking by based on what their hair looks like or the clothes they are wearing. Now think about that negative self-talk and what would you say to your child or your best friend if they said those things to themselves? Or the thoughts you had about the passerby, would you ever express them directly to their face? The answer is NO! No, of course you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or would you ever want to hear the people you love talking badly about themselves. Yet, we do it to ourselves all the time.
Next, let’s chat about non-verbal communication. When it comes to our self, I experience this and see this in others in so many ways. It may be a look of disgust at ourself in the mirror or how about grabbing that “extra love” around the midline or on the hips? Last night, I literally grabbed the extra “fluff” on my butt and immediately felt like crap. The same happens to others, maybe the look of disapproval when you see a friend “cheating” on a clean eating challenge. Or even just the obviously “I’m-not-really-listening” blank stare when someone is telling you a story that doesn’t interest you. The actions and facial expressions we reveal to ourselves and others can greatly impact the interpretation of a situation and the feelings that go along with that interpretation.
The third way we demonstrate criticism is through verbal communication. This comes mostly in the from of gossip. How many times have you been with a group of friends and unintentionally find the conversation going in a direction of talking about others not in the group? Or how about after leaving a dinner party with your spouse, do you find yourself comparing yourself and others from the party? Looking at the criticism passed on yourself, we often do this by commenting on our insecurities. “My butt looks big in these jeans.” “I could have done a better job on that presentation.”
All of these examples are a result of “practice makes perfect”. The more negative thoughts we have, the more second nature they become. The more perfect our Bitch Brain becomes. I’m going to go ahead and say that is not an admirable quality that any of us want, but are all guilty of. Positive self-talk, internal dialog, non-verbal and verbal communication also takes practice and the more often we flood our lives with that optimism, the easier it is to implement in our daily lives and thoughts.
I don’t know about you all, but I have spent much of my life trying to be better than I was the day before. We hear that a lot. I go back and forth on my belief in this. Yes, leading a stagnant or regressive life is not ideal. However, why is being better than before the only way to do that. We already do so much and take on so many things. We are expected to be the best at our job, be perfect parents, be romantic lovers, get enough sleep, eat perfect, workout everyday, oh and find 20 minutes to meditate. We put pressure on ourselves to be better than we were yesterday, but really aren’t we enough just the way we are? I preach this because I know it’s true, and it’s an area that I struggle with accepting myself. We are enough! The judgement and criticism and self-sabatoge comes from trying to always be better. Maybe even trying to be someone we aren’t. I’m not saying that change and evolution is bad… in fact it’s awesome. But only if it’s in the direction you want to go and during that progressive journey you love yourself in the moment you’re in.
This post is not meant to make us all feel like judgmental pieces of crap, but rather to open our eyes to the fact that looking at the goodness in ourselves and others is a key to happiness. No one feels good after saying negative things. The judgement we pass stems from unhappiness with ourself. The more we love ourselves, the more we love others and the more positive life is. The more positive life is, the happier life is. You may have to “fake it till you make it” and literally look at yourself in the mirror and verbally communicate “I love you” to yourself with a non-verbal smile and eventually the internal dialog changes to that of love and acceptance and understanding across the board.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” ~Lucille Ball
Favorite Recipe: Egg Muffins
Seriously these are a life saver. I make 4 dozen of these at at time and have breakfast all week.
- 18 eggs
- 2 chicken sausage (halved and sliced)
- 4 large kale leaves (chopped)
- 1 small red bell pepper (diced)
- 4 large mushrooms (diced)
- 3 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)
- Preheat oven to 425
- Saute all veggies in skillet with olive oil
- Scramble raw eggs in large bowl
- Mix in sauteed veggies
- Coat cups of 2 muffin tins with oil
- Scoop 1/4 cup egg mixture into each cup
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until fully cooked
For the next several weeks, I am going to take you all on a series of “Mobility From the Ground Up”. We put our feet through hell and rely on them for so much but rarely give them love. Today is the day you start giving your feet the love they deserve!