At Page Chaser, we love our books. We are so forgiving and accepting of all sorts of book characters (lookin' at you, Gale-lovers), but do we extend that kindness to ourselves? Today, Allison and Kimberly share how to set some internal boundaries and accept yourself as the amazing person you are. - Stephanie
What is the club you beat yourself with? Let's do something scary: take a moment and consider your internal dialogue.
Do you ever notice thoughts like these:
Why are you the worst? You should be more like her.
He’s so successful. If you weren't so lazy, you'd be where he is.
You deserve this bad thing that’s happened.
You’ll never be as good as other people.
You wouldn’t say these things to your worst enemy. Well, probably. Anything goes on a Monday.
But, somehow, a voice in your head has picked up a habit of beating you into submission. You berate yourself for not being better. . . smarter. . . . kinder . . .thinner. . . more lovable. . . We all do it on some level. Welcome to your shaming inner critic, the part of your soul that targets your vulnerabilities. Often this exercise takes the form of demoralizing comparisons to others.
What might surprise you is this: Your inner critic is trying to help. Believe me, I understand that this is shocking. In its misguided way, this part of you actually thinks it’s motivating you. It's like a screaming football coach. It thinks that if it stopped telling you how much better you could be, you’d become mediocre, lazy, or unlovable. Take heart in knowing that you can set healthy boundaries with your shaming inner critic.
The next time you struggle with shame, false guilt, and self-doubt, try this exercise:
1. Notice your self-talk.
Write it down. Be honest with yourself. Get it into the light. What is the club you are beating yourself with?
2. Get curious about your inner critic.
How long has it been with you? Did you internalize its voice from someone else? Or is it an old habit you’ve never been able to break? Getting curious about this critical voice gives you much-needed distance from it.
3. Befriend your inner critic!
Doing so may sound crazy, but like a hurting child who is acting out, this part of you needs your love and some strong internal boundaries. Extend it your appreciation for the ways it’s been trying to help you be your best self.
4. Write a “holy reframe.”
Now, help your inner critic change its tone and harness all that energy in productive ways. Next to each terrible thing this voice whispers to you, practice a reframe. Like this:
“He’s so successful. If you weren't so lazy, you’d be where he is,” becomes, “I’m not where I want to be yet. But each day, I’m going to do my best to take the next step.”
Your inner critic needs to learn that berating you isn’t the answer. Train it to see you through God’s eyes. Now, the first step to any real change is acknowledgement.
You can take this quiz and can see where you are with your internal boundaries:
Alison is a counselor who specializes in the integration of faith and psychology. She holds an MA in counseling from Denver Seminary and a PhD in religion and psychology from the University of Denver. She and her family live in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kimberly is a licensed marriage and family therapist who earned a master’s degree in theology from Regent College in Vancouver, and an MA in clinical psychology from Azusa Pacific University. She and her family are from Texas and Southern California.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., operates Page Chaser, the publisher of
Boundaries for Your Soul.