A lot of different frameworks in the self help and therapy world ask us to identify an inner critic or bully.  When we are trying to change how we think about things, it can help to realized that many messages we have internalized are not helping us.  But I reject the idea that we should label the parts of us that remind us of those messages negatively.

A lot of the things we learn about being human are actually about complying with social norms.  This is a good thing to the extent that it helps us be part of a community.  This is not a good thing when our social norms create a hierarchy of human worthiness.  (Go read The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor; https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/)

As much as it may feel like our brains are being absolute assholes to us, labeling parts of ourselves negatively is just a sneaky way of creating shame.  And shame is not a tool for change.  I invite you to try something different.  When you hear that voice telling you that you are not good enough, whether that looks like mopping regularly or making six figures or taking a shower or having a new car or cooking every day or enjoying kids’ sports events, pause and avoid the impulse to insult that voice.  Be curious.  How is that voice trying to keep you safe?  We are safe when we are accepted by our community… but is the community that has issued these edicts one that we want to be part of?

What would it feel like, instead of telling that voice to stop being such a bully, such an asshole, so toxic, to thank that part of ourselves for trying to keep us safe?  To recognize the fear of rejection that is behind every attempt to act or look or be a certain way?  To choose to be soft with every part of ourselves?  

Our brains are not actually trying to ruin our lives.  Mostly, our brains are doing their best with quarter million year old software to keep us from being eaten by hippos in a complicated world.   What would it feel to label that voice as “the part of me that is afraid of rejection” or “the part of me that has some damn wacky ideas about how to keep me safe”?

What would it feel like to honor and accept every part of yourself?  What would it feel like to decide that the world is hard enough and that therefore we will choose to be soft?

This isn’t something we can learn to do over night.  This is a long, slow, sometimes arduous process, and we will need support and time as we practice this new skill.

Drink some water.  I love you.