In the months leading up to the release of my second book, I stood before my image in the mirror, questioning whether I still can handle the changes sweeping through my life with the same energy and enthusiasm as I once did.
Even though I have written about self-love, I was finding it hard to love all of me in that now moment.
The preceding years had taught me how to spot the shadowy and often elusive ways unworthiness and self-doubt show up in the lives of women and men over 60, including myself.
I was able to quickly trace this unfolding cloud of doubt back to my age. Challenged to acknowledge my chronological age, as in “I am __ years old,” I wondered, where does this belief about my age come from?
I knew one thing for sure, and that was anything I wanted to positively change, refocus, and renew in my life started by perceiving myself differently. This involved a shift in how I spoke to myself.
I knew it was time to change my inner dialogue. To do this, I got into a consistent habit each day of confidently declaring to myself:
“I am vibrant and beautiful. I am the love I seek. I welcome and receive the love and happiness I desire. I deserve nothing less.”
While these daily inner reminders did help me, there was an inexplicable pull to believe it wasn’t 100% true. Every time I felt myself excited about a new phase in my life, or looked in the mirror and loved the person staring back at me, the inner critic would be awakened.
My inner critic would speak in a dismissive tone, with questions like:
“Who am I to be a successful actress at this age? Who am I to speak about self-love or write a book on discovering your true self? Who am I to be happy and fulfilled?”
Like an actress peeling back the layers of her character’s backstory, I started digging into my thoughts further than I ever had. My intention was to better understand what was motivating me to doubt my own worthiness, and why this doubt was revolving around my age, especially at such a wonderful time in my life.
Rather than lament these thoughts – or push them away, as I once did – I asked my negative thoughts to tell me their story. And they did.
Through careful observation, I traced the history of my thoughts back to my earliest childhood memories. They revealed some deeply powerful insights, not the least of which shed light on how I could change the way I speak to myself by openly listening to what my thoughts were truly conveying.
I began to journal a four-step process for how to listen to what my thoughts are sharing. I believe this can be of great benefit for you as well. You do not have to be an actress, author, or anyone other than who you are right now to easily apply this process to your own life.
- The process of listening to what your thoughts are saying begins with creating more time in your day to quiet your mind and tune into the stories your inner critic is telling you.
- Become consciously aware of your thoughts while engaged in the mundane activities of your day. Limiting beliefs are easiest to hear when you are busy doing daily automatic routines. It happens when you are not consciously focused on the task, and you are on autopilot, such as bathing, brushing your teeth, putting on makeup, or even driving.
- Tune into the story your inner critic weaves around each limiting belief. Self-critical dialogue takes place so regularly you do not even notice when or how your inner critic talks you out of doing things you truly desire.
- Listen to the story but do not buy into it. Limiting beliefs are often conveyed through past experiences, and thus, with enough truth to make you believe they are unbreakable. These stories, which are rooted in past trauma, make you question your worthiness in the present moment.
The areas of your life you wish to improve are governed not by your desires for improvement, but by limiting beliefs you have about what you can be, do, and have at this time in your life. These beliefs and their corresponding thoughts fuel the stories your inner critic attempts to convince you are real and unchangeable.
This 4-step process helped me better discern the difference between the voice of my inner critic and my inner, authentic voice. It also helped me get to the root of my self-doubt, particularly as it related to my age.
Discernment on this level of inner observation helps remove the influence of old beliefs and interrupts unconscious behaviors that sabotage desired outcomes. Most of all, listening to what your thoughts are telling you will help improve the overall quality of your life.
What does your inner critic tell you about yourself daily? Do you silence it, push it away, or listen to it? How have you overcome self-doubt and unworthiness in your life journey?