Self Criticism? How to Overcome Your Inner “I’m Not Good Enough” Voice

Worth Reading – from off the Web!

Instead of going down the beaten path of self-blame and self-punishment for not being “good enough”, we can rewire our brains to think and behave differently.

We live in a world where the theme of unworthiness shows up in all areas in life. As kids, we proudly show off our high marks and perfect behaviors knowing they will earn us praises and approval from adults, and as adults, we constantly judge and punish ourselves for our lack of wealth, success, relationships and others’ good opinions of us. In my healing and coaching practice, the most common story that is told over and over is the one of “I’m not good enough.”

That was the story of my life as well, for over 3 decades. Having grown up in an Asian culture in the 80’s where being an overachiever was encouraged, the accepted, even celebrated method to motivate children was to subject them to harsh criticism and belittling (ie. “who do you think you are”, “you are nothing until you prove your worth so you can be something”, etc.) As a result, I not only internalized the disempowering belief that “I am not good enough” but I also made sure it dominated and manifested in every area of my life — without fail.

As powerful as this or any belief can be, it is only a belief, and we can choose to liberate ourselves from it – simply because it isn’t who we are. If you are constantly battling with a similar story, I invite you to read and practice the following steps to take your power back from that self-limiting belief.

Signs, Signs Everywhere

The first sign is always what we call a negative feeling. Our feelings are intelligent communications from our bodies to indicate to us whether a belief is in or out of alignment with who we are. How we feel at any moment is filtered by our thoughts and our thoughts derive from our existing beliefs. When our beliefs are no longer serving us, our feelings – being the language of the soul in a very literal fashion will give us a little (or large) kick to raise an alert. When I am in a coaching session, whenever a story comes up that is out of alignment, I always ask my clients how it makes them feel. The answer is always along the line of “it makes me feel crappy.”

The signs can range from physical ailments such as lack of energy or tension in various parts of the body to mental and emotional symptoms such as procrastination, depression and anxiety; or they can be a combination of conditions from all levels including feeling a tight knot of anxiety in the stomach that is often accompanied by digestive issues.

Our beliefs also have clever ways to disguise themselves as positive as well as socially approved motivations and behaviors.

Perfectionism is one of them. For the longest time I unconsciously chose to tell the story of “I am a perfectionist” which allowed me to get away from the harsh voice of “I am not good enough.” Yet time and time again when I ruthlessly put myself down for every little perceived failure, I finally realized my perfectionism was only a sugar coated version of “I suck.”

Another common disguise is altruism, or people pleasing behavior. We convince ourselves it is noble of us to place others’ needs before ours as well as compromise our own happiness because it earns us praises such as compassionate, kind and selfless.

Some of us have the tendency to give ourselves up or lose ourselves completely in relationships. Our society has a very powerful reinforcement system when it comes to encouraging selfless behavior without addressing the fundamental notion that our first relationship is always the relationship with ourselves. Without loving, cherishing and respecting ourselves, there is no relationship with others. When we do not know how to value ourselves and make the highest choices for ourselves, how can we honor others as loving, deserving and worthy?

There is certainly nothing wrong with giving our best in circumstances and relationships. However, it is helpful to always do a little honest self-inquiry and ask ourselves how each decision makes us feel. And if it does not feel uplifting, what belief is underneath that decision?

When we practice consciously acknowledging our old patterns every by listening to what our bodies are trying to tell us, we are stepping out of the unconscious and reactive way of living so we can compose a response that allows us to freely create based on who we want to be rather than recreate past scenarios of who we were told to be.

Instead of going down that old beaten path that leads to nothing but a stinking swamp, aka the self-blame and self-punishment for not being worthy, we can choose again and create a new path. The more we can catch ourselves on auto pilot, the more we can rewire our brains to think and behave differently.

Decisions, Decisions

Read more here: Self Criticism? How to Overcome Your Inner “I’m Not Good Enough” Voice

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Why Practice Mindfulness?

peaceMindfulness-Based Stress Reduction pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn shares several good reasons for us to make mindfulness part of our lives and our communities.

The ultimate promise of mindfulness is much larger, much more profound, than simply cultivating our attentiveness. It helps us understand that our conventional view of ourselves and even what we mean by “self” is incomplete in some very important ways.

Mindfulness helps us recognize how and why we mistake the actuality of things for some story we create. It then makes it possible for us to chart a path toward greater sanity, wellbeing, and purpose.

“If our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded – Mistaking reality for some story  that we created.”

Today, as we bring science together with meditation, we’re beginning to find new ways, in language we can all understand, to show the benefits of training oneself to become intimate with the workings of one’s own mind in a way that generates greater insight and clarity. The science is showing interesting and important health benefits of mind/body training and practices, and is now beginning to elucidate the various pathways though which mindfulness may be exerting its effects on the brain (emotion-regulation, working memory, cognitive control, attention, activation in specific somatic maps of the body, cortical thickening in specific regions) and the body (symptom reduction, greater physical well-being, immune function enhancement, epigenetic up and down regulation of activity in large numbers and classes of genes). It is also showing that meditation can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to life, based on understanding the non-separation of self and other. Given the condition we find ourselves in these days on this planet, understanding our interconnectedness is not a spiritual luxury; it’s a societal imperative.

Even very, very smart people—and there are plenty of them around—are starting to recognize that thinking is only one of many forms of intelligence. If we don’t recognize the multiple dimensions of intelligence, we are hampering our ability to find creative solutions and outcomes for problems that don’t admit to simple-minded fixes. It’s like having a linear view in medicine that sees health care solely as fixing people up—an auto mechanic’s model of the body that doesn’t understand healing and transformation, doesn’t understand what happens when you harmonize mind and body. The element that’s missing in that mechanical understanding is awareness.

Genuine awareness can modulate our thinking, so that we become less driven by unexamined motivations to put ourselves first, to control things to assuage our fear, to always proffer our brilliant answer. We can create an enormous amount of harm, for example, by not listening to other people who might have different views and insights. Fortunately, we have more of an opportunity these days to balance the cultivation of thinking with the cultivation of awareness. Anyone can restore some degree of balance between thinking and awareness right in this present moment, which is the only moment that any of us ever has anyway. The potential outcomes from purposefully learning to inhabit awareness and bring thought into greater balance are extremely positive and healthy for ourselves and the world at large.

Working on our mindfulness, by ourselves and along with others, hinges on appreciating the power of awareness to balance thought. There’s nothing wrong with thinking. So much that is beautiful comes out of thinking and out of our emotions. But if our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded, perpetually lost in thought, and out of our minds just when we need them the most.

Jon Kaba t-Zinn is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is  the author of Coming to Our Senses: Healing the World and Ourselves through Mindfulness.   Article from Shambala Sun

Battling Decision-Fatigue

Worth Reading from Off the Web!

Decision-fatigue refers to the fact that our ability to make decisions throughout the day diminishes without proper recharging. 

When asking life’s biggest questions, we are often overwhelmed by smaller decisions and things that might not have registered on our radar in the past. Or conversely, we’re so bogged down by small day-to-day decisions that we don’t have the space to ask bigger questions about what we really want and what next steps would resonate most.

To refresh your mind, I recommend:

  • Don’t ask the same giant questions every day (ie: Should I quit my job?). Give yourself a period of time where you don’t have to decide at all, perhaps while you’re researching options. Revisit the decision at specific intervals of your choosing, but not on a daily monkey-mind basis.
  • Schedule as many daily routines as possible. Like morning routines, scheduling exercise for the same recurring days/times, evening wind down rituals. What recharges you? The more you can create routines around these things, the less you will find yourself debating what to do throughout the day (gobbling up precious mental bandwidth).
  • Write your questions down.
  • Go with your gut! We actually do know the answer to more than we think – on decisions large and small. If you find yourself debating unproductively, ask: what does my gut say?

originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. Answer by Jenny Blake, Author of PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/14135802

How to Be An Assertive Man

Worth reading, from Off the Web!

Are you one of the legions of men who suffer from “Nice Guy Syndrome” ? – a set of personality, attitude, and behavioral traits described by Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Nice Guy

Nice Guy

Nice Guys take a passive approach to life and relationships. Instead of standing up for themselves, they let others walk all over them. They’re pushovers and perennial People Pleasers. Nice Guys have a hard time saying no to requests — even unreasonable ones. They’re considerate to a fault. When they want or need something, they’re afraid to ask for it because they don’t want to inconvenience others. Nice Guys also avoid conflict like the plague. They’d rather get along than get ahead.

At first blush, Nice Guys seem like saints. They appear generous, flexible, and extremely polite. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll often find a helpless, anxious, and resentful core. Nice Guys are often filled with anxiety because their self-worth depends on the approval of others and getting everyone to like them. They waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to say no to people and even then, often end up still saying yes, because they can’t go through with it. They don’t feel they can go after their true desires, because they’re locked into doing what others say they should do.

Because “go with the flow” is their default approach to life, Nice Guys have little control over their lives and consequently feel helpless, shiftless, and stuck. They’re also typically resentful and vindictive because their unspoken needs aren’t being met and they feel like others are always taking advantage of them – even though they’re the ones who allow it to happen.

In worst-case scenarios, the Nice Guy’s pent-up resentment from being pushed around will result in unexpected outbursts of anger and violence. He’s a volcano waiting to erupt.

So what’s a Nice Guy to do? How can he regain some control over his life and quit being such a pushover?

Some Nice Guys think the solution is to swing to the other extreme and go from being passive to aggressive. Instead of meekly submitting, they feel like they have to dominate in every situation. They seek to get their way in everything, no matter what.

Aggressiveness, while definitely appropriate in some instances, isn’t a very productive communication style in most cases. In fact, using a persistent, aggressive communication style can often backfire by creating resentment and passive-aggressive behavior in the very people you’re trying to control.

Instead of passivity and aggressiveness, the best approach lies somewhere between the two. The sweet spot for communication and behavior is called assertiveness.

Assertiveness: The Golden mean Between Passivity and Aggression

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How IT All Began….

img_0914How to eliminate war for one human being: You!

Worth reading – from Off the Web! (edited for readability)

“Hurt feelings or discomfort of any kind cannot be caused by another person. No one outside me can hurt me. That’s not a possibility.”

Someone asked Katie:

  • What’s the best way for someone who has suffered – such as a child who was beaten or a person who was raped – to make sense of this philosophy?

Katie: Identify and question what they were believing in that cruel situation as it was happening.

When children (or adults, for that matter) believe the thoughts they are thinking during and after a painful event, they suffer. It is not the painful event that causes their suffering once the event is over; it is their thoughts about the event.  This is hard for some people to hear, but if you take a closer look, it is obvious. The event is in the past; the thoughts are in the present – thoughts of shame, anger, humiliation, depression, unworthiness, resentment, and so on – and it is only in the present that we live.

Children have no way to question these thoughts, so they can’t help but suffer over them. It’s not their fault that they suffer. They just don’t know that suffering comes from believing our painful thoughts. This is why without inquiry, it’s so difficult to overcome a trauma during and after the fact.

The things that upset us will stay with us as long as we still believe what we were believing in that situation.  Whether in childhood, or yesterday – time doesn’t matter. Inquiry can break the spell.
The Work is not a philosophy. It’s a way that will let you discover that all suffering has been a misunderstanding.

  • Should a person ignore or glide over such things?

I was never able to do that. The way I became free was by not ignoring or gliding over such things. I had to face them, to look back on those terrible and seemingly unjust situations that I suffered as a child, and as an adult, to write them down and question the thoughts I had at the time. I had to travel back and to see in my mind’s eye that situation, no matter how terrible it was, and to fill in a ‘Judge-Your-Neighbor’ Worksheet. I had to fill out one Worksheet for each situation. I do this by remembering as much as possible of what I was seeing, feeling, thinking, and believing in those moments. I used to suffer when those images would arise in my mind, and now I don’t. In fact, all those old memories bring a sense of compassion, freedom and gratitude, and never suffering.

Of course you should suffer when you remember your those situations –  since you are believing your thoughts.
Our children learn fearful and angry beliefs from us, and they, like us, have no choice but to live what they believe. What are we teaching through our own negative, fearful beliefs?

My job is to end the injustice in my world, the war inside me, and that has made the world a better place, since there is one less violent, angry person in the world now.

If I am at war with reality, I’m continuing in myself the very thing that I want to end in the world. A sane mind doesn’t suffer. Through inquiry, you can begin to eliminate war for one human being: you.

For more information on The Work of Byron Katie, go to TheWork.com

Things to Know About the Teenage Brain

Worth Reading – From Off The Web!

dreamstime_m_211796Behavior makes sense when we understand what causes it, and the most effective adult responses become clearer when the nature of adolescent development is revealed.

The brain is a great place to start. Adolescence poses unique neurobiological circumstances that can help to put teens’ behaviors into perspective. Understanding these aspects of adolescent growth will help us maintain an open stance so that we can build effective, authentic relationships with our teens.
Fortunately, adolescent brain research continues to evolve and give us answers about why teens do what they do.

So why do teens act the way they do?

dreamstime_m_41026164Reason #1: Their prefrontal cortex is still developing.

Longitudinal studies on adolescent brains tell us that the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until at least age 25! The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, organizing, and synthesizing all the information coming into our brain and figuring out what to do with it in goal directed behavior. Many of the behaviors most typically associated with teenagers –  poor judgment, lack of planning and foresight and ineffective problem solving—are heavily influenced by the prefrontal cortex’s immaturity.

REASON #2: Their mastery of emotional-interpretation is just starting to develop.

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Awareness, Authenticity, and Assertiveness

As I’ve discussed before…

Without becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings, we are little more than a computer program: Life provides input, our brain rapidly calculates the meaning, and the body responds appropriately.

For example, if I see a snake during a moonlit walk, my body will rapidly prepare me for potential crisis – drenching my body in fight-or-flight chemicals. If I then realize it wasn’t a snake at all but just a fallen branch, my sigh of relief arrests the automatic response.

(Worth reading – from Off the Web!)

Being authentically you is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give, not only to those that mean the world to you, but also to the people in your life in general – and especially to yourself.

dreamstime_m_211796

What does it mean to be courageously and authentically you, and why is this a precious gift?

Authenticity is the permission you give yourself to be real, to be who you are, aware of warts and graces. This permission frees you to give and to live in relation to your self and others, especially key others, from a place of love, and not fear.

It’s precious because how you relate – give and receive – directly impacts the balance of your life and relationships.

And, speaking of fears, our deepest fears are not about spiders, snakes or bridges, which are surface fears in comparison. Our deepest fears have to do with intimacy and our deepest yearnings for meaningful connection, contribution, and relationships; they are matters of the heart.

To choose to live authentically is conscious choice to love authentically, a conscious way of feeling safe enough to love and give with your whole heart.

And that means safe enough to set judicious limits, say or accept ‘no’ and ‘yes’ as viable options. Loving authentically with your whole heart means taking essential steps to consciously:

  • Treat others and, at the same time, yourself with dignity and care.
  • Give (to others and self) from a place of love – not fear.
  • Remain open and empathically connected rather than defensive (triggered) when you face what most personally challenges you in relational contexts.

Why set healthy limits on your giving? When you set healthy limits, you  Give and Express yourself from a place inside you that is authentic. It is rooted in your love rather than fear, shame or guilt.

Being an authentic you has a lot to do with getting to know and to fully accept and to love yourself and life in ways that allow you to authentically connect with courage to love with your whole heart.  It is only when you take one hundred percent responsibility for your inner emotional state and responses that you allow yourself to experience emotional fulfillment and personal transformation. It means  Standing up for yourself  from a place that intentionally sends a message that you like and respect yourself enough to treat yourself and the other with dignity even in challenging situations when emotions are pulling at you from another direction.

One of the most important ways to express authenticity is in how you relate to your self. Others know from how you present yourself , what is okay and not okay, in terms of how you want others to treat you.

When you nurture a healthy space inside you, as well as around and between you and others, you send a clear message that you like and respect yourself, that you know what you want and do not want, and, most importantly, that you are aware of what you most need and value in life.

Thus, when you love with your whole heart, a required skill to cultivate, is the capacity to remain open and vulnerable in triggering contexts  without getting triggered.

Nurturing healthy limits in the way you love, give and express yourself is one of the most important ways to improve your relationships and your life, thus, your happiness.

Setting healthy limits simultaneously conveys respect to others as persons, even when you strongly disagree with their viewpoint or feel pain in response to actions they took.

This is impossible to do, if you do not come from a place of deep respect and honor for yourself that is completely not dependent upon whether the other is treating you in the way you most want and deserve to be treated.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure that stress does not negatively affect your personal and relational well-being. You can schedule regular fun time. Eat healthful, nutritious meals. Exercise. Stretch. Breathe. Meditate. All of these are essential practices are proven by a substantial body of research to be effective.

A lifestyle of conscious caring for your health helps remove much of the intensity and reactivity, and needless anguish. When you care for your body, you care for your mental health. You are strengthened to withstand the everyday pressures of life and relationships.

Much of the suffering we experience in relationship conflict, however, is related to limiting belief, and old ways we have learned to think and to talk — to ourselves — and to one another. In addition to a healthful lifestyle, your ability to communicate can be your greatest asset if you want to protect your happiness, and to more effectively deal with the challenges you face in relating to those closest to you.

In other words, what you say and, especially, how you say things matters when it comes to your happiness. It sets the tone for your giving and receiving – in other words, how you relate to your self and others.

Do you nurture healthy boundaries and limits in your relationships? Do your actions send a message that you respect and value yourself, your time and contribution? Do your actions similarly convey that you respect and value others and their  contributions? Do you know how to “teach” others to respect you, or how to communicate your respect, especially in moments when you or others are seemingly unlovable?

Pause for a moment to reflect on the following statements; then use the scale below to rate how true each statement is for you:

0 – Not at all
1 – Occasionally
2 – Somewhat
3 – Moderately
4 – A lot
5 – Nearly Always

____ I find it difficult to stand up for myself.

____ I tolerate hurtful or sarcastic comments out of fear or worry.

____ I say “yes” to things I do not want to do, then resent it.

____ I feel powerless around pushy people and do what they want.

____ I feel others must be shamed or intimidated to do what is right.

____ I avoid ‘rocking the boat’ and go to great lengths to stop conflict.

____ I think “rocking the boat” is the only way to get things done.

____ I feel unsure and hesitant when it comes to handling conflict.

____ I say what I want, when and how I want to say it.

____ I think I must “please” others to feel okay or to not guilty.

____ I take what people say to me or about me personally.

____ I worry about what people are thinking of me.

If your score is higher than 10, you may benefit from developing more courage to be authentic and to set healthier limits. If your score is higher than 20, taking steps to nurture healthy limits and authentic connections with your self and others may need urgent attention. Your personal and relational happiness and well-being depend upon it.

When you are authentic, you love with your whole heart, you feel safe enough to remain open and vulnerable. Authenticity is about fully owning the power you have to make choices at any moment regarding how you will respond, or relate, to yourself and to life around you.

Choose to give the gift of being authentically you, to transform your life and relationships in ways that may surprise and delight you.

Awareness is key when it comes to authenticity.

It takes courage to live and love authentically. Essentially, authenticity is a continuous balancing act. It requires you to be willing to remain empathically connected even when you –  or others – are seemingly unlovable. It’s a conscious way of feeling safe enough to get to know you, and to love – give authentically – with your whole heart.

To live in balance and harmony in your relationships, it helps to become aware of the people and situations that tend to challenge your ability to be true to yourself.

To live in balance and harmony in your relationships, you need to know how to calm your mind and body, to feel safe enough to set judicious limits in your interactions with others, for example, to say or hear the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without getting triggered.

The first step in setting limits is identifying the specific situations that challenge or trigger you when it comes to either standing up for yourself with courage and/or doing so in a way that treats the other (thus also your self) with dignity.

Generally, these are certain situations or actions by others that unnecessarily trigger your body’s survival response. They may result from a missed opportunity to express your feelings, to say what you did or didn’t like, or to make a request. In other cases you may have “stood up” for yourself, however, you did so in an impulsive way that blasted, belittled or demeaned another, thus, it left you feeling worse than before.

The purpose of the exercise below is to identify your triggers, that is, the situations in which you do not set healthy limits at this time.

Exercise: Identifying the Triggers

Instructions: Below are four incomplete sentences followed by examples of possible responses. For each sentence, check all responses that are true for you, and feel free to add any of your own in the margins.

I feel guilty when …

“I see a look of disappointment on a loved one’s face”

“I’m asked to do something and do not want to”

“I say no”

“I notice someone I care about looks angry”

“I get angry and say hurtful things”

“Others do more than I do”

“A loved one looks hurt or unhappy”

I wish I had more courage to ask for …

“Quiet time for myself”

“Someone to stop yelling or making demeaning statements”

“Help around the house”

“Privacy”

“More information before a purchase”

“Someone to listen without judging, giving advice, or trying to “fix” things”

“An apology when someone has acted in a hurtful way”

I get frustrated or resentful when …

“Someone dismisses my opinion”

“I am not included in an important decision that was made”

“Someone takes me for granted”

“I say yes when I want to say no”

“Someone says no to one of my requests”

“I get overwhelmed by too many tasks”

“Someone talks over me or interrupts me when I talk”

I wish I had more courage to ask others to stop …

“Blasting me with their anger”

“Invading my personal space”

“Criticizing or judging me”

“Going through my personal belongings”

“Putting me down, correcting or humiliating me in front of others”

“Avoiding discussions to solve our problems”

“Making off-color jokes or comments in my presence”

“Blaming me or telling me I am responsible for their unhappiness”

Look over the triggers you underlined or added above. Then rank order the triggers from the most challenging to the least, with “1” being the most and “10” the least.

STOP letting your brain go into ‘protective mode,’ and you in a defensive mode.

The “triggers” you identify here are the specific situations you want to work on to develop an action plan for being “authentically you.” By mastering the moments when you need to face core fears that surface, you can do so without triggering your body’s stress response, also known as the “fight or flee” system, which puts your brain in ‘protective mode,’ and you in a defensive mode.

* Edited for readability

Sources – http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/12/a-key-aspect-of-being-authentically-you-identifying-your-triggers/ 
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/06/five-essential-steps-to-authenticity/ 
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/12/the-ultimate-gift-giving-the-gift-being-authentically-you/
 http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/06/the-secret-to-being-authentically-you-part-1/

About Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, Safe Enough to Love™: Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit  www.drstaik.com, or visit on her Facebook fan page DrAthenaStaik