What’s a S.M.A.C.K. and how does it help stepmoms?

26 10 2008

So, what’s an Inner Critic?

Well, the Inner Critic is not your conscience, your gut instinct, your intuition, or your voice of reason. The Inner Critic likes to pretend it is all of those things, but there’s one big difference: The Inner Critic does not have your best interests at heart. Basically, the Inner Critic is the part of you that wants you to give up on your dreams. It’s your own worst enemy, and it’s trying to paralyze you with its pessimism.

And what’s a S.M.A.C.K.?

The Inner Critic has a big, fat mouth. It’s a verbal abuser. So a S.M.A.C.K. is anything you do that shuts the Inner Critic up. A S.M.A.C.K. is a fast, glorious K.O. and the ringing of the bell in a boxing match. It’s not fooling yourself or lying to yourself; it’s realism meets optimism plus action.

Why blog about it?

Because S.M.A.C.K.s are temporary. The Inner Critic is you, so you can’t just kill it off. After every K.O., another boxing match gets scheduled. But we’ve been smacking down our Inner Critics for ten years, and we’ve learned and invented so many ways to do it, we’re going to give you A S.M.A.C.K. A Day… And we’re dying to hear what S.M.A.C.K.s you come up with!

The Origins of the Smackdown

That photo up top is us, the authors of this blog. Clare’s the Punk and Jacquelyn’s the Beauty Queen, and of course, it’s Halloween.

When the two of us first met more than a decade ago at Wellesley College, we had no idea we were starting a journey together, much less a journey that would shape our entire lives.

Two years after college, we were both feeling restless and dissatisfied. Jacquelyn had just finished graduate school and moved home to Minneapolis from Boston with no job, no boyfriend, and a really bad haircut. Clare, still in Boston, was spending half her life reading and the other half temping. She had no particularly special talent, no ambition, no hobbies or specific interests; just a vague hope that something would change. We both felt lost–with absolutely no idea how to get a life that included romantic partners, families, and careers that would give us a sense of meaning and fulfillment.

In January 1998, at the height of feeling like clueless losers, we took a vacation together. The trip started with a tank of gas, but the real journey began with a proposition:

“What if we each choose one thing every year–one really big thing–that we’re afraid of and face it down?”

Would we get better at taking risks? Would we feel more comfortable asking for what we desired? Could we actually create the lives we wanted to live? And so we began an experiment to see if we could successfully smack down our fears. There were hundreds of late-night phone calls and emails with latest epiphanies about new techniques to try when we were feeling shy with a boyfriend or unsure that we were walking the right career path. We brainstormed ways to work through our doubts, overcome procrastination, and ride out the times when nothing seemed to be happening.

On the tenth anniversary of the snowy January when we first asked the question, “How do we develop the courage to create a life that has meaning?” we wrote a book called S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic. Not because we had finished asking the question, but because we found ourselves looking over the last decade with awe. So many of our techniques worked that we wanted to share them with others.

The S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic Approach

If, like us, you’re one of those battling the voice of an inner bad guy on a daily basis, we’re going to show you how to get the upper hand.

It doesn’t matter where the critical doubting voices show up — over coffee as you debate whether to bike or drive to work; on the way home as you weigh the prospects of snacking on sweets vs. heading to the gym; in the evening as you wrestle with whether to watch TV or begin work on a creative project. Every time your Inner Critic rears its ugly head, give it a solid S.M.A.C.K.

Below, you’ll find sample ways to S.M.A.C.K. your Inner Critic in five key categories. Use a different technique every week — or every day, if need be! Over time, you’ll find your Inner Critic losing much of its power, and your own sense of self-confidence expanding.



In order to beat the Inner Critic, it’s important that you have faith in yourself. Work on building your authentic belief that you are worthy of the life you want.

Example: Tell yourself a different story. Use the power of neurolinguistics to reprogram your brain. Instead of repeating what you “can’t do” or what’s “so hard” for you, simply say that you’ve decided to do it, or better yet, that your ARE doing it. Instead of repeating the story to yourself that losing weight is hard, use a different tactic: tell yourself, losing weight is so easy. Say that out loud every day.

Developing the ability to motivate yourself — particularly when you’re feeling discouraged or have lost steam — requires you to know yourself deeply. You need to know what your core values are, and what will compel you to go after a goal, even when it’s difficult.

Example: Look back on your life and consider what types of motivations inspired you to accomplish challenging things in the past. Run through the list of people you admire and explore what values are inherent in the traits you admire. Look for ways to emulate them in small, daily ways. Another good way to build your arsenal of motivations is to ask your friends what they do to motivate themselves (to exercise, eat right, make time for themselves, whatever). Experiment with the most promising-sounding strategies to see if some of them will work for you.

The Inner Critic hates it when you actually do something to move toward your dreams. Taking action (even in small steps) is the most powerful way of proving you’re serious about your intentions to create the life you want. Once you begin taking daily action, you’re really on your way. Every time you’re able to say, “Yes! I did that!” the Inner Critic goes to sit in time out.

Example: Every day make one choice that moves you toward a healthy lifestyle, even if it doesn’t seem like much. Those daily actions add up. Jump on the treadmill for ten minutes. Do a few pushups. Go for a walk. Have one good piece of chocolate instead of a pile of cookies.

Keep the Inner Critic on its toes by experiencing new things. Try something silly or scary that takes you outside your comfort zone and helps you see yourself — body, mind and spirit — in a new way.

Example: Sign up for a dance class, a yoga retreat, or an acting class.

Make sure self-care is a part of your daily routine, even if it’s just ten deep breaths before you walk out the door in the morning. When you actively embrace pleasurable experiences, you are showing the Inner Critic that you respect and love yourself (and shriveling your Inner Critic in the process).

Example: Make a list of 50 things you love to do and actually do one of them. Right now.

Experimenting with the S.M.A.C.K. techniques is bound to give you a boost of motivation and self-confidence. We hope that you’ll use the techniques you find on our blog to knock out your Inner Critic and begin living your life with greater consciousness. Because here’s what we discovered: When you focus your attention on creating your life on purpose, your dreams come true.

The great thing about S.M.A.C.K.s is that they apply to every part of your life. So on Becoming a Stepmom, I’ll focus the S.M.A.C.K.s on all things stepmom. Your relationship with your partner, the kids, the ex.
So what S.M.A.C.K.s have you tried in order to keep your sanity intact and your relationships growing?

Visit my other blog www.smackyourinnercritic.com for more about how to S.M.A.C.K. your Inner Critic.