Unfreeze. Move. Refreeze.


The 16 year old girl in me is fierce. 

As a result of growing up in care, she is a survivor. 

I am alive because of her pragmatism.

I haven’t needed her so much for a while, having moved on from merely surviving to thriving. 

However, recently I took one of my ‘say-yes-first-and-work-out-the-details-later’ steps and found myself being authentic and vulnerable in order to encourage others.

That itself was a bold move, but it also meant dealing with higher levels of anxiety than usual. 

Old Skool

It was a bit like ditching my iPhone for a Nokia 8310. 

The techniques I'd used as a 16 year old were out of date and didn’t help. 

Anxiety seeped out from my work to my family life and soon I went beyond worrying about what might happen to conducting a constant internal monologue of fear.

It was time to regroup.


My bold moment was asking a psychologist for more strategies.

I had used all of my resources and was still stuck so I naturally sought out an expert for advice on my next steps.

I knew it would be a challenge, but I wasn’t expecting the bombshell of realisation she dropped on me in the first session.

She pointed out that my drive was well-developed (be a catalyst for change!), my perception of threat was larger than average (what if…) and, most alarmingly, I lacked compassion (for myself - not others - I’ve got that part nailed!)


I'd been stuck in that moment when you enter a room and everyone shouts 'Surprize!' but it takes you a few seconds to process. 

You know it's a party, you recognise your friends, but your brain can't make sense of how 63 of them have been crouched behind your sofa for the past two hours.

I suddenly realised how unconsciously unfair I was on myself, setting ridiculous expectations and holding myself responsible for things that I have no control over.

Unfreeze, move, refreeze

The answer was a huge mindset shift towards a more objective truth, letting go of thoughts that were just not resourceful.

It was hard at first. I’d grown accustomed to criticising myself and the habit was a tough one to break.

I felt at sea, so I failed loads of times, picked myself back up and stuck with it waiting for a breakthrough.

It came. 

I changed my mindset by dropping one of the steps in my internal language. I used to:

Notice something - my kids are annoying each other.

Describe it - because dinner is late my kids are hungry.

Then comes the kicker...

Make a judgement about it - I am a crap Mum for squeezing in that last email when I should be focusing on feeding my kids.

I started missing off the last step. Withholding (often incorrect) judgement gave me chance to stay neutral and steer a steady ship through my day.

Try it yourself. Ditch self-criticism and see how the new you feels.

Author Profile

Jaz Ampaw-Farr

Jaz Ampaw-Farr

Mum of 3, Resilience Ninja, Literacy Consultant, passionate advocate of starting with WHY, Governor, fired by Lord Sugar!

42 stories


Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 8 months ago
Love this Jaz. Open, honest & authentic as always. Thanks for sharing your soul to empower others.
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 8 months ago
Ditching self criticism is a massive skill to learn. It really helps talking positively to yourself.
Sarah Cook Sarah Cook @madyline 8 months ago
WE are always so good at supporting others, that we forget to support ourselves. In every work diary or journal I've had for the last few years, I write the same thing on the first page. "You cannot pour from an empty cup."
Shirley Drummond Shirley Drummond @sdrummond 8 months ago
Self -criticism is so destructive.. I call mine self -reflection ... and if I don't like what is reflected back from my mirror of life I will endeavour to amend either my behaviours, actions or journey! Great blog Jaz!
Youlande  Biosah Youlande Biosah @youlandebiosah 8 months ago
Self criticism is one of those hidden barriers that stops us from making the leap! Thanks for sharing
Jaz Ampaw-Farr Jaz Ampaw-Farr @jazampawfarr 8 months ago
@madyline Reminds me of an Indian proverb: You can load a donkey up with books and send him up a mountain. The donkey will carry the knowledge to the top, but when he gets there, he's still a donkey!
Nasima Riazat Nasima Riazat @nasima 8 months ago
Great post Jaz - so inspiring to hear about people journeys around being bold. Thank you for sharing. :-)
Sapnaa Chotai Sapnaa Chotai @sapnaa 8 months ago
Love this Jaz! So honest open and real as always. We are truly our harshest critics. So because of some advice you gave me I've actually tried to take on more complements instead of being so defensive. Thank you for sharing and your honesty.
Clare Erasmus Clare Erasmus @cerasmusteach 8 months ago
@jazampawfarr I sometimes feel we are the mirror image of each other - you have shared what so many women must feel - you might enjoy my post as I stress that self compassion and forgiveness and nourishing oneself is the starting point for REAL CHANGE. Take care gorgeous, courageous woman. I am walking with you!
Martha Da Costa-Sherwood Martha Da Costa-Sherwood @dacosmeconsult 8 months ago
Thanks for this Jaz being less self-critical is one of my own goals and I love the practical advice and strategy you have provided to help with this.
Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 8 months ago
I remember Ian Gilbert once saying that the key to healthy self-esteem is seeing yourself as loveable (worthy of love) and capable. You are definitely both! So love yourself, Jaz (you're worth it....)!
Sam Williams Sam Williams @samwilliams 8 months ago
@madyline Great saying "you cannot pour from an empty cup."
Rebecca Leech Rebecca Leech @beccaleech 8 months ago
This post really resonates. I love how intentional your quest to get it right is. You really are a pragmatist.
Kiran S Kiran S @kiran 8 months ago
You are very awesome! x
Allana Gay Allana Gay @allanag13 8 months ago
Thanks Jaz. Love the post. We are our harshest critic even on the most insignificant thing.
Hannah Tyreman Hannah Tyreman @hannahtyremancpd 8 months ago
I've realised recently how harmful my inner voice is and have been approaching this in different ways. I can now try this simple technique thanks to your honesty and generosity in sharing - thank you! :-)
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