I have a tendency to push myself harder than I should. I criticize harshly and leave no room for failure, while I am the complete opposite towards others. It took me a while to not only learn but also accept kindness from myself.
My therapist asked me to visualize what my inner critic looks like and to name it. I dubbed it “Mean Jasmine”. She then asked me to do the same for the voice in my head that I would like to have instead, or the one that often gets overshadowed by “Mean Jasmine”. I named that one “Nice Jasmine”. I know, so original, but I think the simplicity helps me to call it what it is, “mean”.
This is a picture of the drawing I made in therapy to represent the voices in my head. It’s okay, we laughed too for a good three minutes after I dubbed them “Mean Jasmine” and “Nice Jasmine” coupled with these drawings.
Identify & Counter
My therapist then asked me to describe what things each would say:
I identified that “Mean Jasmine” would tell me:
- Be perfect
- Be productive or else you’ll fail
- Don’t Relax
I then identified that “Nice Jasmine” would say:
- Take a break
- You don’t have to be perfect
- Do your best
- You got this
- Your worth is not your work
I came upon the realization that “Mean Jasmine” and “Nice Jasmine” want the same thing, for me to be successful, but they each have their own way of achieving that. It’s much like parenting, you can be authoritative or you could be authoritarian. For example, if a child was failing a class, the authoritative parent would tell them they needed to get a better grade in the class and would help them do so, their voice would not raise nor would they yell. The authoritarian parent would most likely raise their voice and yell at the child and tell them to do better without any warmth in their voice or helping them to do so. Both parents want the same thing, for their child to pass the class, but they have different ways of doing it. It is the same with my inner voices. Mean Jasmine wants the same thing that Nice Jasmine wants, but Mean Jasmine will be harsh and raise her voice at me. She will give no solutions, just tell me to “do better, be better”.
That realization helped me to understand myself more and how to overcome Mean Jasmine. My therapist told me, every time Mean Jasmine says something have Nice Jasmine counter it with the positive. If Mean Jasmine says “Be productive, don’t relax”, Nice Jasmine will counter it with “Do your best and take a break”.
Counter With Kindness
It’s a slow process, but it’s working. Rewiring my brain to be nicer to myself has helped me immensely. And understanding why my inner critic says the things it says has helped as well. In the end, we all want ourselves to be better, but the process of which we go about doing so determines whether we will fail or succeed. So the next time you hear your inner critic telling you, you are lazy, counter it with kindness: “It’s okay to take a break, laziness isn’t a negative thing, in fact, it’s healthy to be lazy sometimes” (if you are lazy all the time and need to motivate yourself to do something rather than to take a break [I’m a workaholic so I need to remind myself to take a break] try countering with “I am taking a break, but I will get up in the next five minutes and do something i.e. laundry, dishes, jumping jacks, talking to a friend, etc.)
Remember to take a break. It’s okay to relax.