However, this has been a big issue for me for as long as I have been able to identify the part of my inner chatter/ego that tells me that I am foolish, talk too much, get on people's nerves, am careless, clumsy, not nearly as good or smart as others, etc. etc. etc. You get the point. This voice is very mean and very rude. A bully. I believe this voice was made stronger over the course of my early life by being a girl and then woman who was conditioned by family members and society to "be nice" and at all costs, avoid ever making anyone mad at me. A people-pleaser of the most extreme form. To this day, I am still extremely averse to any type of conversation or situation that smacks of conflict and I still catch myself altering my viewpoint in group conversations or doing image management to make sure people will like me. I'm just recently starting to step out of my comfort zone in this regard, since I have become close with a few woman friends who are more bold and not afraid to be seen as "different" by others. They are willing to ask hard questions and seem ok with the idea that not everyone will like them. They are influencing me to be confident and to be brave.
The point of my post is not about taming my people-pleasing tendencies. It is about how I am learning to notice and neutralize self-critical thoughts and feelings of shame or guilt that seem to emanate from nowhere. It began when I started realizing, many months ago, that I was often sending blessings to family and friends, but I also needed to bless myself, love myself and accept myself every day. I started saying this to myself several times a day--upon awakening in bed, while meditating and while going to sleep at night--"I bless, love and accept myself and everyone else."
I usually put my hand (or both hands) over my heart and intentionally integrate my body, brain/mind and heart/spirit before or while I say those words to myself.
I kept remembering to do this every day until, just recently, I noticed myself thinking this mantra during the course of my day, when a mean, self-flagellating thought popped into my head. And it completely zapped that negative self-talk. I was able to see it for what it was--an old tape that held no merit.
This practice is so simple, yet it has transformed the way I feel about myself, which has, of course, changed the way I live with my family and teach/interact with students, families and colleagues. The nagging self-consciousness is mostly gone and I am so grateful. The level of joy I feel has gone way up.
If this sharing resonates with you in any way, please comment and let me know. Thank you.