Realizing our dreams should be fun, not a source of stress!
As we work towards our goals - whether they are related to our health, career, finance, or relationships - we are likely to encounter that nagging voice of the inner critic along the way.
We may get so busy going after our goals that we disregard our mental and emotional well-being. In a way, we are missing the point of what we are trying to achieve with our goals: being happier. Yet long-lasting happiness lies in the balance between embracing ourselves in the present moment even while we are moving towards the goals that fuel our inner passions.
So here are 3 ways to silence that inner critic and put the joy back into the journey:
1. MAKE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING ONE OF YOUR GOALS
You have a list of goals that you’re working towards achieving. But did you include your own mental and emotional well-being as one of them? This goal should have priority over all others. It is the key that helps you move towards everything else you want to accomplish!
Create a vision for how you want to feel as you go through your days. Imagine what emotions you want to feel most often. Think about ways that you can actively cultivate the character traits that will help you express those emotions.
Vision (example): My vision is to flood myself with positive feelings as often as I can and to have fun while realizing my dreams — to truly put the joy in enjoying the journey.
Write an affirmation that helps you get a clear picture of this emotional goal.
Affirmation (example): I intentionally cultivate and nourish positive emotions. I love feeling grateful as I go out into the world. I love noticing all of life’s little pleasures. I radiate confidence and courage. I realize the importance that my mission can have on others and I love that I can be compassionate with myself when fears arise. I love expressing myself fully and radiating my positive emotions to help uplift others.
Keep the goal in mind just as much as you keep your other goals in mind. When the inner critic pops us, this will help you remember that you don’t have time for him. Your goal is to feel good and you’re not willing to spend your mental energy on listening to someone that brings you down.
2. LEARN TO LOVE THE GROWTH PROCESS
Nothing in the universe is ever complete. Life itself is a process — a constant unfolding, a constant breathing in and out. Feel the relief in this. You don’t have to be perfect. Nothing in this world ever will be — and perhaps in a way that’s why everything already is perfect. It’s all a perfect dance of imperfection. The more we step back, the more we can see our growth even amidst the daily trials and frustrations — the larger order amidst the seeming chaos.
We would never say that a growing child isn’t beautiful because it’s still learning how to operate this world. We see a child as being complete even while it is growing. Yet we often forget to look at ourselves that way.
Even once our physical growth has peaked, we are always evolving mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All of that is part of the larger process in which we participate together.
The thought that we aren’t good enough until we reach certain goals is widely perpetuated in our collective consciousness. When it surfaces in the form of that inner critic, be aware that this is just a thought — you don’t have to identify with it. You are not your thoughts — you are that which sees them. You are the one who chooses which thoughts to accept as part of your reality and which ones to reject. Choose loving and empowering thoughts instead.
“You are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.” — Sophia Bush
3. CULTIVATE SELF-COMPASSION
The voice of the inner critic is like a small child who is afraid for its own survival. The inner critic is a mental construct of all the expectations you have for yourself. In those times when you identify your sense of self-worth with that mental construct, its voice loud voice seems to take over your consciousness. But if you were that voice, how would you be able to perceive it? See it as the small child it is. Be compassionate with it.
If you see a little girl on the playground who is afraid to go on that big slide, do you judge her for being afraid? You probably feel compassion, knowing that it’s her instinct of self-preservation that causes that feeling of fear. In the same way, our fear of failure can be seen through the eyes of compassion.
We all feel these fears — we all want to be the best versions of ourselves and we all stumble as we learn to use our wings.
We are all in this together and compassion helps us lighten up with ourselves and others. Compassion is a feedback loop — receiving it helps us give it and giving it helps us receive it for ourselves.
Being compassionate towards yourself means that you see yourself as the priority that you are. You intentionally make the time and find ways to take care of yourself.
On your journey to self-compassion, consider starting a daily self-gratitude practice. If you wish to have some guidance, Download your free self-gratitude starter kit here.
Your dreams and ambitions are beautiful. They matter. Keep expressing the wonder that you are as you go after them. But please don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Don’t allow the inner critic to let you withhold your gifts from the world. We need them!
“Your life’s journey has an outer purpose and an inner purpose.The outer purpose is to arrive at your goal or destination, to accomplish what you set out to do, to achieve this or that, which of course implies future.But if your destination or the steps you are going to take in the future, take up so much of your attention that they become more important to you than the step you are taking now, then you completely miss the journey’s purpose, which has nothing to do with where you are going or what you are doing, but everything to do with how.It has nothing to do with future but everything to do with the quality of your consciousness at this moment.The outer purpose belongs to the horizontal dimension of space and time;the inner purpose concerns a deepening of your Being in the vertical dimension of the timeless Now.”— Eckhart Tolle