The Inner Critic versus the Inner Mentor


I’ve been listening to a wonderful book by Tara Mohr called Playing Big (I'm the slowest reader on the planet so listening is my preferred method). I’m only a third of the way through but I’m finding it to be profoundly important, especially at such an uncertain time in my life.

In her book, Tara explains how powerful the voice of the inner critic can be. She refers to this voice as one which tends to, unintentionally, keep us small. To stop us from ‘Playing Big’. This voice in our minds eye is there to protect us. It protects us from being vulnerable should we be placed in foreign situations. Unfortunately, however, it’s this same inner voice, this inner critic, that prevents us from trying new things, from experiencing new potentials. It’s the voice that tells us we have nothing valuable to say when we sit down to write that blog post or start the novel we’ve been planning to write for the past 5 years. I know my inner critic has prevented me from doing many things with my life. Why? Because I allowed it to. It felt safe and comfortable listening to this voice, indulging it. I didn’t have to try as much for I had an excuse not to. After all, “…as if you have the power to influence others in a positive way Jessica? Who would want to listen to you?” See how it works.

When I met the wonderful man in my life 10 years ago, he saw just how paralyzed I was by this internal world I had created for myself. Just as we get stronger when we go to the gym and do weights every day, this inner voice, my inner critic, had developed Hulk-like strength. This voice dictated my life.  It was so limiting that leaving the house without having mopped the floors and done my washing on a Saturday was verging on unbearable. OCD much! Heaven forbid had I left the bed unmade! 

10 years ago I made a decision I didn’t want to ‘play small’ anymore. I didn’t want to allow myself to live a life that was so bound by (my own) rules, so afraid of change and so victimized by the negative stories I repeatedly told myself – over and over and over again. So I began the long and ongoing journey to begin strengthening the voice of my inner mentor, as Tara would call it. She is the person I aspire to be. The person who is free from worry, from irrational thought, and is completely secure in how she stands in the world. She is the person who reminds me to keep going even when the present world around me feels as though it’s about to fall apart (which is most days at the moment – there’s no point lying!).

At the end of the day, I don’t know all the answers. God help me if I did! But what I do know is I’m taking active steps every single day to be the person who I believe I can be. To do what makes me smile and what gives meaning to my life. There are days when I allow the inner critic to take control of my thoughts and therefore my behavior. Those days are generally not fun at all. But when I take a moment to gather my thoughts, breathe deeply and just be, suddenly the drama disappears and my self belief reappears. This doesn’t mean the difficulties are gone. Let’s be totally frank here – life is always going to be filled with challenges. The difference is in how we respond to those challenges. That is what defines us.  That is what determines whether you follow a meaningful path, headed toward the place of wisdom where your inner mentor waits, or weather you remain stagnant, afraid and playing small.

For 10 years now, I’ve always maintained an attitude that anything is possible, and I maintain it to this day. Through my career in Rehabilitation, I’ve seen people recover from some of the most horrendous accidents whilst others who have had relatively minor incidents in comparison spiral downward. Why? Because it comes down to our choices. It comes down to the person we want to be in this life. No drug, no outfit, no amount of yoga can turn your life into what you want it to be. You need to want it for yourself, believe it can be yours and then fight hard for it. From here, yes, absolutely anything is possible.

So with that said, take some time to think about the stories your inner critic likes to share with you on a daily basis that keep you small. Be grateful for them and then graciously let them go. Visualise your inner mentor and the characteristics she/he possesses. When you feel anxious about a decision, ask yourself, what would my inner mentor do? And do that. Remember, your inner mentor is your place of wisdom, a place you can trust. There is nothing to fear here for he/she holds all the qualities you’re aspiring to possess. He/she is now showing you how to attain them.

I would love to hear from you? What is something in your life you dream to do but fear trying? Moving house? Changing jobs? Going on a holiday – alone! It could be anything. Then – let me know what your inner mentor would do in the same situation? You might be surprised at would you find out.

Be strong. Be powerful. Be you.

Sending huge hugs and love your way,

Jessica xo

Self belief - so fickle. Wouldn't you agree?

Let’s just say today was one of those days of fluctuating between believing in yourself and thinking you’re an absolute joke. Chatting with Owen today, the theme of self belief came up. If you’ve read my blog or know me personally, you would know my intentions are to share my learnings from India with the rest of the world as a teacher. I also intend to own my own business one day, with a studio and also hosting retreats in luxury accommodation. Where my students are treated to a few days of complete respite, to allow their tired bodies to rejuvenate, relinquishing all worries for a few days. To experience the absolute bliss yoga can offer. This is what I dream to do. But today I was really honest with Owen about my personal doubts in my own ability to actually ‘pull this off’. The negative voices in my head, which try so hard to take over, are there constantly. But I know I cannot give into them. I know any self doubt will stop me from carving the path, the life, I dream of. So I have to actively cancel these thoughts. Not pay attention to them. To remind myself that anything is possible if you want it enough. If you work hard enough at it. I truly believe this, and I know my dreams for yoga will be realized soon. But again, as I mentioned before, there are days when I need to work harder to conjure up positive messages of self belief. I think this is called life.

I’m a doer in life. As the baby of eight children, I worked out pretty early on if I wanted something, I needed to get it myself. Especially as an adult, this is how I have always operated. Because I am fortunate enough to have found a true passion which gives meaning to my life, yoga, I am now committed to realising these dreams. To achieve my goals. I am firm about the opinions I will listen to and accept versus those which offer nothing and should be ignored. One has to be. This also goes for the messages I tell myself, as I said earlier. I am so strict with what thoughts/beliefs I will allow into my life and which ones I will choose not to indulge. Anything which says I can’t do something, for example, is something I choose to ignore. If I don’t do this, (and I believe this to be true for everyone), then I wouldn’t be here in India following my heart. Or if I made it this far but allowed self doubt to creep in, then I certainly wouldn’t see my training through. It would be far easier to fly home to the man and pooch whom I miss desperately. But what kind of life would that be? I know I cannot give up on myself. And nor should anyone.

I guess the point I’m getting at is - everyone else can see potential in others and yet the person themselves often cannot see the potential in themself. Why do we all struggle so much to see the good in ourselves, to see the immense strength and courage we all possess within? If everyone were brave enough to look inside and trust themselves, the possibilities of what could be achieved are limitless. Boundless. Maybe we all need to take a huge look in the mirror and ask ourselves - “am I living my life how I had always hoped to live it?” If the answer is no, then ask “what do I need to do to create that life?” Then do that. And let go of the self doubt. It does not serve you.

The clock is ticking and we don’t know when it will stop. So if ever there is a time to listen to yourself and just go for it - it’s now. That’s is why I’m here. Because I suddenly realised, tomorrow will never come. Food for thought.

Namaste xx


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Day 1 training - a little slack to be honest

Hmmm - I have to be honest, I didn’t get alot done today by way of training. Being a Sunday with a million and one things to organise before Christmas, I did little when it comes to preparing for my trip to India.

My partner has agreed to help me learn Sanskrit. We began training today where he tells me the posture to do and as I do it I repeat the name of the posture in Sanskrit. It’s certainly a challenge - and I only learned four names! Making no excuses for my terrible effort. I promise myself to do better throughout the coming weeks. I have decided to transform my morning practice to one of learning the foundation asanas and their proper names. If I committ to learning 4 per day I should be ok.. I think.

I was telling my father today about my plans for india and yoga. As per usual this was met with non-acceptance and a bewildered expression. Dad’s only comment was - “you don’t earn very much doing yoga”. What I find so fascinating about a comment like that is - I already have a disposable income. and realistically I could purchase whatever I wanted. But am I happy? No. I’m not. And for me, life is about multiple meanings. My current life, by way of work, doesn’t offer that to me. So - I would rather earn less and enjoy my life, appreciating each moment, than earn more and wish my days away. But that’s just me.