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The Yes Journal

Vanquish Your Inner Critic

You are probably no stranger to that mean voice inside that has an insult cocked and loaded for everything you do. This common problem stems from a host of causes — everything from disapproving parents, to wildly indulgent parents, to no parents at all. It can come from brutally unconscious teachers at school. It can come from bullying, or from the simple fact of one’s own physical shape or state.

Whatever the cause, the inner Nazi is born and prevails. But there are a million ways to neutralize and vanquish its power over us.

I just want to share one of them with you. It’s a humble little trick, but it works. I call it the Yes Journal.

Here are the rules: 1) write in it every day, and 2) only about what you did right. 3) No self-deprecating disclaimers.

4) No exaggerating. 5) Only what you did right that day.

It might sound simplistic but trust me, it works.

Maybe it’s a small notebook that fits in your pocket. Mine was. I didn’t want anyone to know I was writing good stuff about myself, so I made sure it was small enough that I could have it on my person at all times. Maybe for you it’s a more traditional sized journal that you check in with every evening.

But whatever works for you, buy it and put it where you know you’re going to use it.

Then use it! Write down everything you did right that day. Caution: not everything that went your way. (Like, “The weather was really nice today,” or “Nobody was mean to me today.”) It has to be something that you did (or did not do) that was positive. No matter how minimal. And it has to be every day.

I was so far down when I started this practice that mine had to start like this: Today I didn’t spill anything. That’s the only thing I could think of that day that I’d done right. But it counted.

Of course, once I had started this practice, I began scanning for what I was going to write down that day. Which made my receptors more sensitive to my own goodness. I was shy at first, even with my own self in the privacy of my own book. But I started noticing more and more actions and thoughts and words that a ‘good person’ would do and think and say.

In time, my entries got longer and more substantive. And eventually, I didn’t need it at all. I had built a strong little raft under me that helped me over countless choppy seas. And I’d internalized it, so now I can walk around in the world a basically good person doing the best she can.

Recently I came across this little Yes Journal and felt such tenderness for the struggling soul who penned that very first entry. Such love for her. And I’d forgotten about some of the awesome things I’d done so many years ago. It was a lovely peek back into my raft-building days when I still thought I was on an island all by myself.

Anyway. The Yes Journal.

If you’re struggling with self-esteem, start one today and keep it going. Talk back to the inner critic. Gather all the evidence, day by day, bit by bit. Eventually, they won’t have a leg to stand on.

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