Experiment #31: Give Your Inner Critic a Silly Name

 BY  DIANNE JACOB , Food Writing Coach

BY DIANNE JACOB, Food Writing Coach

Need a fresh idea for dealing with your inner critic? Of course you do. The critic never goes away. The issue is how to deal with him or her.

I read about an idea you might find useful: Give your critic a silly name. That way, his or her negative pronouncements about your abilities carry less weight.

I tried this approach with a talented client who can't seem to get around to writing. I suggested she name her critic Mildred. My client giggled. Suddenly, the critic seemed goofy. She had less power.

 It makes sense to name your inner critic after Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce.

It makes sense to name your inner critic after Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce.

We talked about how helpful Mildred can be in other areas of my client's life: in food styling, recipe development, creating a beautiful home, and designing a photo for Instagram, for example. My client relies on Mildred to help her make good decisions through criticism. But somehow, Mildred isn't helpful to her when it comes to her own writing.

 Ethel is a great inner critic name.

Ethel is a great inner critic name.

Isn't that interesting? Now the challenge is to get Mildred to help her in this final arena, where Mildred has been harsh. My client reports that "the writing has begun...slow and steady." Hooray!

It all sounds quite logical, but as we know, taming the inner critic is a slippery process. I've dealt with her messages in my head forever. But I'm naming her Bertha now, or maybe Ethel. Already I like her better.


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Experiment #29: Snowglobe Away Your Thoughts

 Some of the great things that spilled out of the envelope when I first opened it.

Some of the great things that spilled out of the envelope when I first opened it.

 Rainbow monocle.

Rainbow monocle.

Last week I received a mysterious package in the mail. In it were many fun anx-positive crafty treats including fake tattoos, scratch and sniff stickers, and a monocle that made everything look rainbow when you looked through it. 

I later found out that my friend Michelle had sent me the care package from The Heart and Hands Store on Etsy. Artist Janelle Silver creates adorable, positive messages to make people feel good. It's a nice gift idea for the right person.

One of Janelle's ideas struck me as a particularly good experiment:

anxiety support

Write down something you need to let go on a piece of paper. Then, in Janelle's words, "Get a bowl full of water and add coloring or glitter...make it a celebration. Record it on your phone if you want to watch it again later. "

Next you just cut the paper into tiny pieces and "snowglobe" them away.

 Ta-da!

Ta-da!

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Experiment #27: Keep a People Boundaries List

people boundaries

The past two days have been trying days for me negotiating my friendships. Or I thought they were friendships. (It's no longer clear one way or the other.)

Regardless, I've had to figure out how to deal with these relationships. Particularly the sadness, abandonment, and rejection. 

So, I fired up Evernote (you can use whatever app you prefer, obviously!) and put down a heading, Decisions about Boundaries. Let's call it the Boundaries List

Then, I wrote down some subheadings -  Focus on, Beware, Be Cautious, Acquaintances, Non-Starters One-way Streets, and Let Sleeping Moments Lie.  Under each one, I put in as many as names as possible, including the two people from the last two days' roadtrip through Disappointmentia.

  • Focus On - Budding friendships or relationships that I am going to focus on, rather than wallowing over all the ones that went belly up. Funny how all the sad memories come clamoring against barricades when one friendship hits a bad note.
  • Beware - stay away from these people or treat them like a pair of dead socks. Distance. 
  • Be Cautious - they didn't intend to hurt you. You just got pushed down the pyramid of priorities. Your expectations are high these ones because they're probably great people who bring beauty to your friendships. But they dip into life like submarines. 
  • Acquaintances - this could be the hardest group to do, too. This is where you should put people like mine, or those who have long made you question who you are to them. There will be pain. But seeing their names here will help let go.
  • Non-starters - you tried to strike up a conversation or shoot for a coffee, but ended up with a bag of nothing. Oh well. 
  • One-way Streets - There may be some overlaps here with previous groups, but this one should really be for repeat-offenders. 
  • Let Sleeping Moments Lie - I feel like this is the artsy sister of Be Cautious, that sister who has wanderlust and seems too busy notice that you've let her crawl into your heart. Sometimes, like flings or affairs, it was just a moment between two friends. And now that moment must sleep.  Let it sleep.

At first, I had Focus On at the bottom of the list, but I found that that made me focus on the negative. So, top of the list, it went! And what a difference. I get to mourn what was lost but set my sights on the new friendships that may perhaps be those ones that will outlive all the rest.

Try this experiment and let us know how it went on the forums, or be a trooper and join Slack! It's wondy. 

 Mina Demian lives in Stockholm, Sweden where he Writes, Codes, and Plays Music. He also Invents Amazing Words in the Beautiful Voyager Slack Group. 

Mina Demian lives in Stockholm, Sweden where he Writes, Codes, and Plays Music. He also Invents Amazing Words in the Beautiful Voyager Slack Group. 

Experiment #23: Notice Your Stop

limit negative thoughts stress relief

It can take years to figure out the simplest things. For me, one of those simple things is that there are certain sentences I’m simply not allowed to finish. I've learned over time they're not good for my mental health.

Example: “If only…”

If a sentence starts “If only…” I’m not allowed to finish it. It's simple.

notice your stop

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Experiment #21: Don't Compare

comparing yourself to others

Since you're a human being and you're alive in 2017, I'm guessing you're aware of the "comparing yourself" problem. You know, the situation where a person wastes time worrying that their neighbor/friend/coworker has a better life / things more figured out / a better job than they do?

It's a cancerous thought problem, and this experiment is meant to tackle it head-on.

You're hearing this from the frontlines: it's possible to dent the "comparing" problem.

Change the habit.

I've lessened the amount that I compare myself to others in the past three years by building on my mental habit. At first it took brute force. Over time it has gotten easier and more natural. Here's how it works: If I feel my mind start to bend toward comparison, I literally say the following two words to myself,

DON'T COMPARE.

 I then think about how I couldn’t live like others even if I wanted to.

Keep it simple, build the muscle.

It can be very hard to put theoreticals into action. That's why this experiment really is just about saying these words aloud to yourself:

“Don’t compare.” “Don’t compare.”

I hope this experiment works for you! Sending you good, non-comparison thoughts.

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Experiment #17: Spritz!

 Everyone loves a spritz.

Everyone loves a spritz.

About a year ago, a friend gave me a fancy makeup gift that included this great "mist" that prepares fancy people's skin for fancy makeup. Since I am neither fancy nor a makeup person (unless forced, like a little boy in a Sunday suit), I ended using the mist more than everything else. I realized the cooling feeling of water on my skin along with the gentle smells would distract and change my thinking. It's almost like a mental Pavlovian trick. You don't need to buy this mist to get it to work. I bet even rosewater in a little spray bottle would work. 

 This is where you can find  mine , but others work just as well, I'm sure.

This is where you can find mine, but others work just as well, I'm sure.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!