Imagine two voices inside in your head.
There is likely one that is more nurturing and uplifting–it empowers us to lean into what we love, the voice that speaks the language of confidence.
Many people also struggle with a voice that is critical and discouraging–the voice that weighs us down, making us feel incapable of growing into what we could become. This second voice could be considered your inner critic and it is a form of self-sabotage. It is likely holding you back from seeing the change you want in your life.
Let’s think about it…
How can you expect to move your life in a forward motion when your judgemental, critical voice is speaking so loud? Your inner critic does not motivate you! It shuts you down.
If your inner monologue repeats things like, “I’m going to embarrass myself,” or “No one is going to talk to me,” as you walk you into a get together, you probably won’t appear relaxed and approachable. Or, if you’re thinking, “I’m never going to get this job,” in the middle of an interview, you’ll struggle to present yourself in a confident manner.
Your thoughts greatly influence how you feel and behave which can cause negative self-talk to become self-destructive. Telling yourself that you’ll never be successful or that you aren’t as good as other people, will reduce your feelings of self-worth and discourage you from facing your fears.
What does motivate you? The voice of encouragement, self-compassion, and possibility.
If your inner critic is holding you back from jumping forward, and it’s time we loosen its grip on you. It’s a good time o take charge of it. Take the steps to proactively address your negative thoughts and develop a more productive dialog with yourself. Here are five things you can do today to dim the sound of your inner critic and amplify that of your inner champion.
1. Develop an awareness of your thoughts
We get so used to hearing our own narrations that it’s easy to become oblivious to the messages that we’re sending ourselves. Pay attention to what you’re thinking about and recognize that just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true. Our thoughts are often exaggerated, biased, and disproportionate.
2. Stop contemplating
When you make a mistake or you’ve had a bad day, you may be tempted to re-play the events over and over in your head. But, repeatedly reminding yourself of that embarrassing thing you did, or that questionable thing you said, will only make you feel worse and it won’t solve the problem. The more you try to avoid thinking about something, the more you’re likely to focus on it. Instead, distract yourself with an activity – like going for a walk, organizing your desk, or talking about a completely different subject – and stop the critical thoughts before they spiral out of control. Wanna take if further?
Bonus points for when that spiral on the thing you did wrong comes up- try replacing it with a thought of gratitude from the day or a self-affirmation. If you’ll take the time to critisize yourself, you darn sure should be willing to take some time to celebrate yourself.
3. Ask yourself what advice you would give to a friend
If a friend expressed feelings of self-doubt, hopefully you wouldn’t say, “You can’t ever do anything right,”. Yet, we’re often quick to say those things to ourselves. Instead, you’d be more likely to offer a friend compassionate words of encouragement like, “You made a mistake but it’s not the end of the world”. Treat yourself equally as kind as you’d treat a friend and apply those words of encouragement to your life.
4. Replace overly critical thoughts with more accurate statements.
Convert an overly pessimistic thought to a more rational and realistic statement. When you find yourself thinking, “I never do anything right,” replace it with a balanced statement like, “Sometimes I do things really well and sometimes I don’t.” Each time you find yourself thinking an exaggeratedly negative thought, respond with the more accurate statement.
5. Practice self-compassion
Life is imperfect, and so are we. Just accept that. As you grow into that mindset, you begin to embrace your uniqueness, move past self-judgment, and tame your self-critic. You start living a more fulfilled and content life knowing that you are you and you are whole. The more you fuel your own voice of kindness and empowerment, the less you give power to the other voice of harshness and shame.
Being hard on yourself and beating yourself up isn’t helpful. In fact, it might be one of the reasons why you’re stuck where you are today. When you learn how to limit self-criticism, you automatically offset its negative effects on you. This then allows you to break-free from your limiting beliefs, achieve your highest potential, and find more contentment in your life.
Samantha Morel, Ph.D.