Human behaviour expert says women are 'killing themselves' with self-judgement
More than 50 per cent of women criticise themselves before 9.30am, a recent study revealed.
Weight, appearance, finances, relationships, and career are our 'favourite' self-judgement topics, but US-based human behaviour expert Dr Dain Heer warns that negative self-talk is more damaging than we may realise.
The brighter news? It is possible to silence the inner critic.
"Judgement is killing you. As well as creating negative feelings, judgement affects your physical wellbeing in very real ways, including depression, anxiety and disease," he explains.
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Dr Heer is the author of nine books, including best-seller Being You, Changing the World, which helps people recognise and remove judgement for their life.
"We come into this world wide-eyed with wonder, but we are soon taught to judge the situations and people in our lives as either 'right' or 'wrong', but this habit can be un-learned."
Speaking to us from the US prior to his New Zealand visit, Dr Heer revealed his own personal struggle with negative self-talk, of which 15 years ago had him thinking suicidal thoughts.
"It got to the point where I didn't recall being happy for more than one day at a time," he said.
"I told myself, I'll give it six months and then I'm out of here.
"I'd tried every self-help technique known to man - whether it was psychology or metaphysics, everything that I could, but I was still unhappy."
While reading a newspaper in his hometown of Santa Barbara, Dr Heer came across a company advertisement with a tagline of 'all my life comes to me with ease and joy and glory'.
"I thought, they don't know what my life is like - it's all pain and suffering. But I remembered that if you love something or if you hate something, there's probably something there for you.
"So I called the company, spoke with them and tried their philosophy, and began to turn my life around." He now facilitates for the organisation.
Dr Heer, a doctor of chiropractic, learnt how to step out of the debilitating pattern of self-judgement (very much a form of self-harm), and turned his life around. He now spreads the message to 131 countries.
"About 99 per cent of our thoughts and feelings are not those of our own," he explains. "We pick them up from those around us, whether in childhood or current situations.
"The most empowering thing we can do to reduce self-judgement is to live with more questions and fewer answers. Judgement is about coming to the conclusion of what we think is 'right' or 'wrong'. When you ask questions, it removes judgement and opens your mind to another perspective - it opens your awareness."
FIVE ACTIONS TO SILENCE YOUR INNER CRITIC
Dr Dain Heer says that reversing self-critisism is possible. Here's five ways to start:
1. DITCH PEOPLE WHO JUDGE
"Create space away from judgmental people. People who don't judge are the happiest, therefore it's easier to be happy (tell them you're away if you have to!). If they ask why you're not seeing them anymore, put it on you before you put it on them - say something like "I need to work on myself, so just need some space."
2. SPEND TIME IN NATURE
"Nature has no judgement, and being in an open space will help lift what feels like the weight of the world off your shoulders. Judgement is often clouded by other people's point-of-view, and in nature, on your own, you get away from negative thoughts that may surround you. Birds don't wake-up saying they're having a 'bad feather day'. It's a judgement-free space."
3. MOVE YOUR BODY
"The times when you criticise yourself the most are the times when your body needs to be moved, and will help create the changes in your thoughts. Getting your body moving will get the energy moving around your body - physiology helps immensely with psychology."
4. BE GRATEFUL
"Start a gratitude journal. As corny as it seems, it'll have a positive effect on your mind. Gratitude and judgement cannot co-exist, so it's important to pick out even the smallest things you're grateful for - your child's laughter, that beautiful flower - to things like being proud of yourself for carrying on through the tough times."
5. ASK YOURSELF: IS THE JUDGEMENT YOURS?
"People are like sponges, we suck up thoughts and feelings that are around us, buy may not be our own, resulting in a judgement (or negative thought) in our head that may not even be our own."
Where to get help:
The Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service - (09 623 4812)
Lifeline - 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (8 am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757
Healthline - 0800 611 116
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org