So “Emily (Blunt)” is the character in my mind that plays the role of my Inner Critic. She’s the hard-driving, perfectionist seeking, real b-word in my head that likes to point out all my weaknesses and tell me how I’m failing at things.
I introduced her to you in my last blog that talked more about our recognizing our Inner Self Critics, why we have those voices in our head to begin with, and how to refocus our mind to the only thing that IS perfect in our life (those areas where God dwells). If you missed it, check it out HERE.
In spite of all this chitter chatter of the “Emily” trying to manipulate my thoughts, I have to say that I have been able to muzzle her voice from my head with greater and greater success in the last several months!
To quiet her barking in my mind, I’ve just had to utter one phrase inside my head and she shuts up.
“Progress is Progress.”
PROGRESS is the new PERFECT. And I have developed a true sense of empowerment and motivation in life when I look for and see the ways that I am PROGRESSING instead of only focusing on the ways that I’m not yet perfect.
As we all know, I am a big-time believer in writing and setting goals (hence why I wrote an ebook on the 7-Steps To SURREND’hered Goal Development which you can download free right HERE).
Often times however, it is in these very goals that I have so diligently planned out that I start to hear more of “Emily” in my head trying to measure me up to my perfectionist areas.
Let’s take one small, silly example to illustrate:
I made a small goal to be able to improve my time in running the 1.5 mile jog that I try to do as a warm-up in my workouts. Now mind you, there is no real reason why I think I need to improve my time in this effort nor any magic in running 1.5 miles, but it really is just a distance that I thought was a good amount of time and I like to created the mini goal to just push me a little harder!
So, anyway, this week, I was able to do the run 3x in my workouts. BUT, I wasn’t able to improve my time in the last run that I did this week because I was feeling a bit more sore and needed to go slower to start.
You all probably understand that this is really not a big deal. Not life or death. But the EMILY in me, wants to really put me down about it. She wanted me to push through the soreness and just “work harder” and “go faster.”
But, I shut her up. Why? Because….
Progress is Progress.
The fact is that I did this run 3x this week whereas last week I only did it 1x! So I made PROGRESS!!
The progress is what I need to focus on, not the “lack.”
While this kind of example illustrates a small disappointment I experienced this week and may not seem like too big of a deal on it’s own, the truth is our small disappointments build-up over time and can destroy our resolve.
If I let my mind continue to be unnecessarily disappointed in myself for the small stuff, it’s for sure going to be majorly affected for the big stuff. I have to rewire my thinking in small ways if I want to prepare myself to do the same in BIG ways.
Progress doesn’t have to be measured results either! Progress might be that you have mentally shifted away from past destructive behavior. That you are being more gracious, loving, and gentle with yourself. That too is making progress and should be acknowledged!
Let’s take another, more serious example:
Say you want to lose a fairly significant amount of weight (20-30lbs) and you know how hard it is to lose fat when you drink alcohol, but you have a real taste for wine and drink a glass or two 3x per week.
But because you want and need to lose this weight so bad, you set out to give up your wine for 30 days.
One week in, you have an especially stressful day and everything seems to have gone wrong and before you know it, that bottle of wine is opened and you’ve finished it off! Ugh!
So here you are, set-up with a prime opportunity for your own Self Critic to lay into you about how you blew it and probably some bit about how you’re never going to be able to do this and it’s too hard and you might as well quit!
Luckily for us, we have this new slap in the face to offer our dear Self Critic. We say to her…
“Progress is Progress”!
Because the reality is, you used to drink 3x/week, and then this week you only drank 1x/week!
That, is the proper focus and that is the reality of how changes happen!
REAL, long lasting change usually happens step-by-step, not mile by mile.
REAL, long lasting change modifies your current bad habits just enough to make them better habits.
REAL, long lasting change is gradual and purposeful, not sweeping and bipolar.
THE REAL WAY YOU MAKE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE IS TO FOCUS ON MAKING PROGRESS!
Want to improve in this? I have you covered in just 3 steps!
3 Ways to Put the PRO is PROGRESS:
1. PRO-gram your MIND:
You must learn to mentally shift your mind away from your disappointment in yourself or thinking you’ve “failed” at something and instead see the PROGRESS you’ve made. The easiest way to do this is to verbally (or mentally) affirm it! Anytime you hear your Inner Critic barking at you from within, stop yourself and say “Progress is Progress” and look for the way that you did make progress in your effort.
Repeating things like sayings and affirmations actually reprograms your subconscious mind to believe what you are saying. The more often you say something, the more it becomes true for you and the more you start to live it.
2. PRO-fess the next PROgression:
Once you have acknowledged and recognized the progress you’ve made so far, you want to PRO-fess and decide what the next step or “mini goal” of progress is going to be! There is no time table or pressure to always do more and more, but it also is good to keep progressing! We must always keep learning!
We can and should feel great about only drinking 1x per week when we used to drink 3x per week, but we don’t want to stop short of our real goal and real capability either! We don’t want to be complacent with our efforts and fool ourselves into thinking our half-hearted attempts are “good enough” especially when we know we CAN do more.
So take a minute to mentally, verbally, or in writing decide your next level of progress you wish to make in this goal. Give yourself a *realistic* deadline to make it really stick!
3. PRO-vide the Example for others!
As you start to put less pressure on yourself to be “perfect” you will find that you can start putting less pressure on others to be perfect too. PRO-viding the example for them by acknowledging their progress will be a service you can provide to others that will also come back to you.
After all, you don’t want to be one of those people’s that gives yourself Grace but holds others to some standard of perfection they can’t reach!
Overall, I view my relationship with my Self Critic, “Emily Blunt” in my head as a pretty great thing. Recnognizing her comments now, almost laughing at how ridiculous and obsessive she sounds, and taking steps toward God and toward a life seeking PROGRESS in becoming STRONG’her, WISE’her and live SURREND’hered is truly what makes me EMPOW’hered.
Here’s to us, with the crazies in our head! Moving on….