Who is that Whispering to You? Could it be Your Inner Critic?
How often have you looked at others you thought were more successful, smarter or happier than you and thought, “They are satisfied and O.K. with themselves. They never consider that they are “not enough,” “not good enough,” “not smart enough,” “not accomplished enough”? Let me tell you a little secret, we all carry around an inner critic that is focused on making us miserable.
Life could be so much simpler and more enjoyable if you can learn to silence your inner critic. Spend some time and listen deeply to this negative voice, you’ll be amazed by what you hear. Take time and try to objectively overhear what that voice is telling you. You might find that you are appalled by what it tries to make you believe.
And yet, I bet you listen to this unpleasant and mean-spirited voice as if you’re listening to an expert This voice takes on such authority. It becomes a judgemental jury and a punishing judge.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
How To Change Your Internal Dialogue:
- Listen to your inner critic dispassionately. Just stop and listen for a minute. Notice the things it says. It won’t take long before you realize you’re listening to a lunatic. In fact, listen to your self-talk in general. Imagine what “you” might say to yourself while you’re watching TV:
“Oh yeah! I love this movie, except the acting stinks, and some parts are boring. I think I have time to go to the bathroom and get a snack before it starts getting good.
The girl in this movie reminds me of Mary from high school. She always wore that weird jewelry. I wonder if she married Steve. I should’ve gone to prom with Steve. I looked fat in my prom dress, and I should never have gone with Brian.
I’m still fat and can barely get off the couch because I’m stuck so far down in the cushions. If my mom had treated me better, I wouldn’t be so addicted to eating junk. I loved watching Fat Albert when I was a kid…”
It sounds awful, don’t you agree? Tell the truth, do you say even worse things about yourself?
Imagine what would happen if you were sitting next to a person rambling on like this? You’d be looking for the nearest exit. This is the way we speak to ourselves. You are listening to someone you’d avoid in real life. There’s no valid reason to take self-punishing self-talk seriously, but we drag this inner dialog around with us and not only listen to it but believe what it tells us!
Let’s Try Something –
Ask yourself what you would say to a friend or a child in the same situation. Or imagine what your best friend would say to you. I’m pretty confident that the language, comments, and advice would differ significantly from what you say to yourself.
1) When your critical dialog starts, ignore the criticism and consciously practice being as gentle with yourself as you would to a friend or a child.
– Think about what you might say to them to alleviate their sadness, shame, and pain.
– Now,remember all the times you were successful. Psychologists believe it requires ten positive experiences to overcome one bad experience. Take a couple of minutes each day to remember the all the amazing things you’ve accomplished. Write them down. Put them on post-it notes; place them where you will see them several times a day – on a bathroom mirror, inside a closet door, on your refrigerator!
– Commit to doing this diligently, and you can create a new habit. As soon as a negative thought enters your mind, you can instantly think of something positive, instead. Remember, you are in charge.
2) Write it down. Instead of just hearing inner critic, write down exactly what was said and read it. You can even read it out loud, can even record it on your phone and listen to it as an “outside voice,” not one banging incessantly inside your mind. It will seem less credible in a new format.
3) Put the criticism to the test. What evidence do you have to support this negative statement? Can you think of instances in the past where this statement was false?
Are there aspects of what your critic is telling you that are somewhat accurate? If so, determine what you can do to turn those things around. You can be in charge – you don’t need to be a victim.
Challenge yourself here, don’t take the easy way out, go to war with this inner saboteur.
4) Now here’s a challenging question – listen deeply and ask yourself, “Whose voice is this?”, “Who does or used to say these things to me?”, “Why am I allowing them to live inside my head?”. How would it feel to evict them? Perhaps you’d feel sad, or guilty, lonely or wrong about dethroning them.
4) Now, ask yourself: If you were more positive, how would you view this situation? What can you gain from challenging this inner critic, this enemy to your sense of pride and self-esteem?
What’s in it for you to change? Is it enough to move through the discomfort of changing – after all, change is difficult, uncomfortable, we can feel awkward and clumsy. Ask yourself, is the work of change worth discarding a lifetime of negative, self-defeating inner talk?
5) Keep your mind on today. The past is of little value today, and tomorrow is impossible to predict. Keep your attention on making the most of today. Stay present to what is happening in the here and now. Do that consistently, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
6) Be grateful. The easiest way to uplift your mood and your self-talk is to spend time feeling grateful. List the things in your life that fill you with feelings of gratitude.So many people say they can only think of a few things. The world is immense and there is so much in it to give thanks for. The more you find, the happier you will become.
It’s time to stop giving away your power to something that has nothing to offer you. You’d never be happy with a person that spoke that way. And, if you keep listening to the inner saboteur, you won’t be happy with yourself either.
Try out using these tips to keep your inner critic under control and develop the habit of speaking positively to yourself, instead. Your self-confidence and success will soar.