"I'd love to know how you deal with your own self-critical mind, if you have that issue... Stopping yourself from being too hard on yourself, etc. Thanks!!"
Being my own worst critic is something I have dealt with my entire life. I have always been a self-starter and relentlessly independent when trying to accomplish a goal with excessively high expectations set for myself; however, when I receive criticism or feedback about myself or my hard work, no matter how constructive, I have a hard time showing myself the same compassion I would show to anyone else in the same situation.
It can feel like self-inflicted emotional abuse at times.
When this happens I get really quiet and everything around me starts to blur. All I can hear is my own voice telling me that I f*cked up and I should feel ashamed about it. This self-criticism can take many forms, like when someone pays me a compliment and I somehow turn it around and feel bad about myself because of it....
I'll never forget when my boyfriend told me that I was having "beginners luck" when we first started dating (this is my first serious relationship) because I was doing such a good job at "trying to be a good girlfriend." Of course I didn't take this compliment to heart the way he intended; instead, I started beating myself up about it, wondering what I was doing that was signaling to him that I was trying to be a good girlfriend. Isn’t that something that comes naturally or am I changing how I act and not being my true self because I’m in a relationship now? Does he like me for me or the version of me that I am trying to be so that I am a good girlfriend? Why is the idea of trying to be a better version of myself making me feel bad?
I had taken a perfectly sweet compliment and turned it into a whirlwind of self doubt.
Sometimes when I'm getting ready to teach my SoulCycle classes, I can get caught up in my head and question whether I have enough energy and inspiration to give to my riders and I worry about letting them down. As you can imagine, it can be extremely intimidating trying to meet the expectations of a large room full of different personalities all at once.
The days when this struggle seems the hardest—when that self-critical voice gets too loud—I have to take a step back and reassess my attitude and perception of what's really happening. What is the story I'm making up in my head and what is the truth? I try to remember how hard I have worked to get where I am and trust that I wouldn't be here—I wouldn't be allowed to put on a microphone and teach a SoulCycle class in the first place—if this wasn't exactly where I was supposed to be. I remind myself to trust that The Universe will always guide me to where I need to be, even when that road seems relentlessly challenging. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Be where you say you are. I make a conscious choice to flip the script in my head and choose words of strength and empowerment rather than hurtful banter.
I invest my energy in faith, rather than fear.
It's our responsibility to ourselves—to our sanity—to choose to see the positive side of any challenge or unexpected obstacle that we face. Setting high expectations for ourselves is a sign of good self-esteem and ambition, so if things don't go the way you want, trust that any setback is really just a setup for a comeback.
The words you use to describe how you feel create the reality you live in, so give yourself space to reevaluate the internal dialogue you are choosing to use to describe what you're experiencing and do your best to keep your words positive and motivating. When you notice that you're beating yourself up or being too hypercritical of yourself, make an effort to shift your perspective. Heightened emotions can be blinding. Take a deep breath and remind yourself about something that genuinely makes you feel happy and proud of who you are then come back to the situation with a new attitude and a clear, open mind.
If you notice that you're the only one being hard on yourself, talk to someone you trust—someone completely uninvolved with the issue at hand who can give you a reality check...
When I was going through the SoulCycle instructor training program, there were several days when I would leave the studio feeling extremely self-critical about my performance. Luckily at that time one of my closest friends, Sibyl, was also living in Manhattan, so she became my safety net when I knew I was being too hard on myself and needed someone confide in.
That's the power of true friendship... it doesn't matter where you are or how long its been since you've seen each other, when you need them they are there for you. One day after telling Sibyl about how I felt like I had completely failed at my first day of training drills, she laughed in my face the only way a true friend would. She consoled me, reminded me that I was going to be OK once I learned from the situation and corrected my mistake, then we indulged in a night of champagne and reality television.
One of the reasons why I truly believe people love SoulCycle so much is because it provides a sense of belonging to something much greater than just the outlines of our bodies. We feel supported, loved, and safe when we ride together and this experience can be incredibly healing. When you're feeling too self-critical, take a step back and do something that makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and trust that time will always move you through whatever emotional slump you face. A fresh perspective on the situation can provide the clarity you seek.
You are stronger than you think you are.
What do YOU do to alleviate feelings of self-doubt or criticism? Please share your story, leave a comment and check out my SoulCycle schedule in San Francisco this week!