I used to think that all I needed to do, to combat the critic in my head, was think positive thoughts and do self-love rituals. If I could just do enough loving affirmations, I could prove to myself that I was worth loving.
This is a nice theory, but it would inevitably come under fire anytime that I would hit a surge in hormones, when I would say something stupid in public, or when I’d get a cold sore. Oh, the dreaded cold sore.
When self-judgement hits, the only thing worse than the shame is the disappointment. I’d think, “Really? Am I really still this insecure?” And my thoughts would prove it to me. Hideous, they’d say. You’re hideous. You’re disguisting. No one wants to see you like this. Just hide till you’re better. Hide till you’re perfect.
A few years ago, I got really sick of facing the judgmental, cruel perfectionist in my head all by myself. I wrote a public letter to that voice and told it: “I’m not going to face you alone anymore. I’m going to share with others what this is like.”
So I have been. And, you know, I thought I was doing really well. I’d share about being hurt by criticism, facing debilitating fears, and struggling to accept my body. And then, while returning from Central America in July, I got a cold sore.
“Am I still this insecure?!”
I was crushed. But then, I remembered—every single time that I’ve chosen to react to my self-judgment with vulnerability, to share exactly what I feel when I feel it—the self-judgment has weakened. So, when I felt that familiar burn of shame coming on, I decided to take massive action. I decided to do more than just journal and practice self-loving thinking.
I hope this video is just as liberating for you as it was for me.
I’ve realized, throughout my journey of self-love, that self-judgement is like a plant: it grows when nourished, and it withers when it is starved. And the only thing that self-judgment needs to survive is action. To get stronger, my inner critic needs me to believe her and act on her advice. Each time I go against her advice, it’s like I deny her a dose of her worst addiction: control. Her grip on me weakens.
The truth is, you can’t think yourself into being courageous. You can’t do enough affirmations to be brave. You can’t sit in a corner and visualize happiness, creativity, joy, and love. You have to take action. Talking, thinking, feeling—this is not enough.
Only in action can we suspend our self-judgment and build self-respect.
When we act out of self-judgment and fear, we imagine what we’ve avoided. Those imaginings are delusions. They’re not real. If all we do is follow self-judgment and fear, we will drown ourselves in those illusions. Taking action is a way to return to reality, to get a grasp on what’s real as opposed to what’s in our heads.
Self-judgment is a kind of prejudice. And prejudice only thrives when we have two-dimensional labels of people, instead of real experiences of them.
Experience yourself. Set yourself free. Step into the unknown, boldly. Make yourself three-dimensional, so that those little labels can just fall away. Don’t hold yourself back until it “feels right” either. Making this video would never have “felt right.” It felt horrible. But, afterwards, it felt really good.
I think, sometimes, we have to force ourselves to do what’s loving and brave so many times that, eventually, it “feels right” only because it’s become a habit. Don’t wait for courage to “feel right.” It won’t. I honestly believe that the next video that I make will be just as authentic, just as courageous, just as inspiring, and it will be even easier for me to make.
I’m making radical authenticity and courage a habit, and like any habit, it will get easier over time. Will you join me?
It’s always best to do these things together. Together, we can unite in love, and leave judgment where it belongs (like evaluating the freshness of food, following traffic signals, and paying taxes).
Let’s love ourselves together by being honest and letting ourselves be seen.
What about you? What will you do today to overcome the grip of that judgmental voice in your head?
Author: Vironika Tugaleva
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Video Still