6355913634301408071325721035_do-you-have-a-distorted-body-image-jul-11-2012-600x400.imgopt1000x70I have devoted my professional career to teaching people how to have extraordinary relationships with themselves and the people whom they love.  My belief is that the quality of our lives begins with the quality of our relationships.  And really, where the quality of our relationships begin, is with the relationship we have with ourselves.

I am especially passionate about empowering women to value themselves and love who they are, by letting go of the limiting beliefs they might not even be aware of, which rob them of experiencing contentment, joy and peace in their lives.

In almost 20 years of private practice, and through workshops which I’ve led all over the country, I have taught thousands of people that it is the voice of our mind that speaks to us all day long that is responsible for most of our suffering.  It is the voice that tells us what we need to fix, to change, to improve, and where we are just not good enough.  I call this voice the Inner Critic, and there is not a human being alive who escapes from this voice.

What most people don’t realize, is that you are actually separate from this voice, and you don’t have to continue to give it the power that perhaps you currently aren’t even aware that you are giving it.

When we are listening to our Inner Critic, we are always looking for something outside ourselves to help us feel the way we want to feel.  And it is our Inner Critic who convinces us that if we just do what she says, if we just fix this, change that, perfect some aspect of ourselves, we will be enough.

We all have some version of “I am not enough.”

  • For those of you who are teenagers, it could be because of your body, the way you look, or because of your grades, or because you aren’t popular enough.
  • For adults, it could be because you are not successful enough, or your kids aren’t successful enough, or you’re not a good enough mom, wife, or friend.

We think, If I just work harder to reach that goal, at some point I will feel the way I want to feel.  The bottom line is, we ALL buy into the belief that in some way, I am not ok as I am.

So the voice in your mind sets out to have everyone like you, to ensure no one thinks badly of you, to be acceptable to everyone, and to never get hurt, rejected or judged.  And in order to do this, says the Inner Critic, you have to constantly find all of the places in your life where you just aren’t enough, and fix them, to control what others think of you.

The relationship we have to our bodies is a microcosm of the relationship we have with ourselves.  The voice says, if I can just lose those 5, 10, or 40 lbs., I will feel the way I want to feel about myself.   If I just get the boob job, or the liposuction, I will finally feel like I’m enough.  If I can get the right grades, the right friends, the right job, the right marriage, then I will finally feel like I’m enough.  Our Inner Critics make us feel like we have to fight a battle to be someone other than who we are.  It’s like we’re hamsters on a hamster wheel, running and running, and never getting ahead.

We compare ourselves to an ideal woman in our minds, and no matter how hard we try, we never measure up to her.

This is especially true with regard to our bodies and how we look.  In my 20’s and 30’s, I struggled with my own body image issues, so I took up running as a way to ensure that my body looked the way that I thought it should.  I remember when I ran my first mile, and I was so proud of myself!  But, soon my own inner critic mind convinced me that a mile was not good enough.  I ran my first 5K, but eventually that was not good enough either.  I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s pushing myself harder and harder, chasing the ideal body, and feeling like it was never good enough. It was not until after I ran my one and only half marathon at 40 years old, when I saw how much my sense of worth was wrapped up in the shape of my body.  And for the first time, I actually admitted to myself that I have hated running for over 15 years! I was pushing myself to run faster and further, hating every step, but feeling like I had no choice but to force myself and endure the pain it caused.

And we live in a culture that perpetuates this idea.  Every day we are bombarded with messages from commercials, magazines, television and movies, that tell us we are being judged on our appearance, how far away our appearance is from an unachievable ideal, and that our worth as a woman is measured in how close we are in relation to that ideal.  In fact, much of the beauty industry depends on the self loathing attitudes of women.  If we suddenly woke up one day and actually began liking the way we looked, what would that do to the multi billion dollar beauty and diet industry?

It is the unending struggle to impress others, to attempt to control what other people think, that has become a national obsession, and a national crisis.  Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction is at an all-time high, because people of all ages are being seduced into believing that whoever they are, whatever their lives look like, and whatever they look like, is not enough.

In our culture, we are not taught that we are separate from the Inner Critic voice of our minds.  Our minds are on autopilot.  Just like our bodies automatically breathe for us, our minds go to the same “not good enough” place.  And we have been doing it in some way, shape or form for our whole lives.

We are not taught how to separate from the automatic voice in our mind.  Our minds are on autopilot.

We are not taught that what it truly takes to feel the way that we want to feel is to understand the difference between our authentic selves and the voice in our mind-The Inner Critic.

We are not taught that if we monitor our automatic critic, then our relationship to how we treat our body will naturally take care of itself.  Instead, in our culture, we focus on diet, exercise and weight loss as being the key.  In other words, our relationship to our bodies is about fixing, changing and perfecting it from the outside-in, rather than the inside out.

I am passionate about having people understand that the key to obtaining the peace, joy and contentment that we all crave, is about examining the false story that our Inner Critic has convinced us is the truth.  It is only when we learn the tools to distinguish the messages of our Inner Critic that we have been seduced into believing, that we can feel how we want to feel.



stop-watch_WebI don’t know about you, but when any one of my relationships in my life is out of whack, I am totally out of whack.

I have devoted my life’s work to figuring out how to consistently have thriving relationships.  I am not saying that my relationships are always perfect mind you, but I AM saying that my I don’t have ANY relationships that are consistently problematic.  That’s because because no matter how bad it gets, whether it’s with my husband of 20 years, one of my three kids, my amazing friends, or extended family, I am always aware of one thing:  what the voice in my mind is telling me about whatever is happening.

See, many years ago, through my ongoing inquiry into how to live my best life and be my best self, I discovered this amazing thing:

There is this voice in all of our mind that never shuts up.  It is constantly thinking:  worrying about how we’re doing in life, what’s going to happen in life, how others think of us, how we measure up to our expectations, or to others expectations, how our kids will turn out, how our bank accounts will turn out, on and on and on.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m caught in this broken record mind chatter, I am miserable!!  And you know what?  Even though I teach this, to the couples I counsel, in my workshops, my blogs, and I’m writing a book about it, I still get caught in it all the time!!

Why?  Because it’s impossible not to.  It’s literally like the air we breathe.

It is an acquired, learned skill to understand that most of what floats around in our minds is complete and utter bullsh*t.  And it’s so unfortunate that this skill is not something that is taught in formal education.  Because without knowing that you listen to bullsh*t all day long, you interact with the bullsh*t like it is reality.  This is why I am trying to educate as many people as I possibly can, to understand the difference between their Authentic self, and the voice of the Inner Critic.  Because seeing the difference between the two literally has the power to change the course of your entire life.

And, once you learn this skill, it takes 10 SECONDS!!!  Ten seconds to spot the voice, and the story that it spews, disengage from it, and change your whole outlook about yourself, your life, or another human being.

If you don’t have this skill, you can’t see it. It is as transparent as the air you breathe, and the lies and stories of the voice in your mind become your truth.  This is how your Inner critic can literally ruin the quality of your life and all of your relationships, especially the one with yourself!!

This just happened to me a couple of nights ago. Before I went to bed, I told my teenage son to turn off all of the lights and turn the TV off before he went to bed.  (He goes to bed way later than me these days!).  At 2:30 in the morning, I woke up to get a glass of water in the kitchen, and guess what??!!!  All, and I mean ALL, the lights were still on, as was the TV!!!  So, here is what the voice in my head said:  “He is so irresponsible!  It’s like he just doesn’t listen to a word I say, and doesn’t care about anyone but himself!!”  Sound familiar?  I was getting myself all worked up, my blood pressure was going up, my face was getting all tense, and I started planning how I would rip him a new one in the morning.

But, then I used the one tool that has literally changed my entire outlook on life.  I stopped, and I took 10 seconds to find the voice of my Inner Critic.  I saw my Inner Critic’s message clearly:  “He doesn’t care about me or what’s important to me.  It’s like I don’t even matter to him.”  There it was.  The same feelings I have had over and over again in my life: I DON’T MATTER!

Once I saw the story that my Inner Critic was making up, I could separate myself from that story.  Do you know how many times I’ve heard that same G-d damned story over the course of my life?  Do you know how many times in middle school I felt like I didn’t matter?  When I got fired from my first job I didn’t matter?  When my boyfriend broke up with me I didn’t matter?  When I felt like I wasn’t successful enough I didn’t matter?

Of course I matter to my son.  He is being a teenager!!  Now, mind you, the next day, I still made him do some extra chores around the house to make up for the irresponsibility from the night before.  But, my reaction to him was very different once I took 10 seconds to separate myself from the message of my Inner critic.

And truly, this 10 second tool has changed the quality of my entire life.  I no longer get as triggered when things in life don’t go my way, and I no longer get as angry when people act like jerks.

Those 10 seconds created a totally different relationship with my son.  Instead of letting my knee jerk emotions take over, I made a decision to separate myself from the same story my mind plays over and over.  And when I did, I was able to stay in the space of love and connection with him.  I was still annoyed that the lights were left on, mind you, but my knee jerk anger was not about the lights!!

And I promise you, so many of you out there are suffering in your relationship with yourself or the people you love, because you don’t yet know that you are listening to nothing more than a made up story, a broken record playing over and over, and you think it’s the truth.  Learning this skill will change your life.  And once you know it, it only takes 10 seconds!!

For more information on how my workshops and private sessions (FaceTime available) can make a difference in the quality of your life!  Visit DethroningYourInnerCritic.com to register or to schedule an appointment, email me at Joanna@ExtraordinaryRelationships.net.