Personal Growth

Self-Critical or Self-Inquiry?

By Suzanne E. Harrill

A friend recently sent me a questionnaire with personal questions, like what color would you be if you were a crayon or do you like red or pink better. She had answered the questionnaire with the offering to get to know each other better. As I read her answers, one of the questions jumped off the page at me: what is your most negative thought about yourself. She answered, “Thinking I am too fat.” To be honest with myself, I had to admit to having a similar answer (and then I watched myself criticize myself for having such negative thoughts).

In the next moment, I felt deep sadness, not only for the two of us, but for all of us who are overly self-critical and fail to appreciate, daily, the beauty and perfection of our physical bodies. I vow to get back on track and say my favorite affirmation, “I love my body and my body loves me.”

Being self-critical lowers our self-esteem and keeps us stuck judging ourselves and feeling bad. Self-inquiry on the other hand is a helpful, useful method of offering continuous self-improvement. Using the above example, we ask ourselves with self-inquiry, such things as, “I wonder what I can do differently to be more pleased with my body weight.” or “What am I willing to do, today, to take a small step towards my goal of weighing less?” or “What might I do to accept myself today exactly as I am?” or “Who is it that is being critical of me?” Pondering such questions brought me to another angle, to look deeper at my values regarding my body. I discovered that it is a higher core value to appreciate the functionality of my body than to judge myself by a superficial standard.

Following are some helpful affirmations to build self-appreciation.

Every cell in my body is healthy and works for my greater good.

I love my body.

I nourish my body by eating well, exercising often, and sleeping enough.

I listen to my body and pay attention to its needs.

I relax at the end of the day by enjoying something I like, such as watching a TV show, reading, or talking to a loved one.

I accept my body where it is today.

I take positive steps to let go of bad habits to give my body a boost.

I easily release mental tension and physical stress in my body with deep breathing and journaling.

I appreciate the beautiful temple my body is, so my consciousness can experience this life to the fullest.

I invite you readers to catch yourself each time you start the cycle of being self-critical and change your perspective to that of practicing self-inquiry. Have a conscious day!

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