Do you have a persistent and loud inner critic? Do you beat yourself up whenever you make a mistake? Last week my mind was churning and churning over something I wish I would have done differently. Sometimes it seems that my inner voice’s purpose is to make me feel miserable! I can logically know that I was too rushed when I made the decision and had I slowed down a little, I could have weighed my options. Yet, I had a lot to juggle at the time, and I wish I would have chosen Option B instead of Option A.
Life is a lot less stressful and much simpler if you can recognize what’s happening and silence your inner critic. If you spend some time and really listen to this voice, you’ll be amazed by what you hear. That inner voice can be so negative, odd, and almost cruel at times. Yet you listen to your inner critic as if you’re listening to an expert. Nothing could be further from the truth. So what can you do to quiet the criticisms?
1. 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” 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 never should 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…”
What would happen if you were sitting next to a person rambling on like this? You’d be looking for the nearest exit. Yet this is the way we often speak to ourselves. Realize that you’re listening to someone you’d avoid in real life. There’s no reason to take self-talk seriously, but we drag this inner dialog around with us and listen to it!
2. 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. The language, comments, and advice she would say or give would be much different than what you hear yourself saying to you.
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.
3. Remember all the times you were successful. Psychologists believe it requires 10 positive experiences to overcome one bad experience. Take a couple of minutes each day to remember the all the amazing things you’ve accomplished.
In fact, with diligence, this can become a habit. As soon as a negative thought enters your mind, instantly think of something positive instead. You can even wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it whenever you find yourself starting to criticize yourself.
4. Write it down. Instead of just hearing your inner critic, write down what was said and read it. It will seem a lot less credible when you read it back!
5. 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?
If you were more positive, how would you view this situation? What can you gain from your current situation?
6. 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. By doing that consistently, tomorrow will take care of itself.
7. Be grateful. Gratitude is probably the single quickest way to shift your mood and your energy. One of the ways to develop an Attitude of Gratitude is to list 10 things or people that you are thankful for before you go to bed at night. Do that for 21 days in a row (and don’t repeat any from the previous days). You will be amazed at what a powerful shift starts occurring. These 10 things don’t have to be major events. Be thankful for the small things, like a delicious cup of coffee, or finding a close parking space, or finding a great outfit at a bargain price! Become aware of all those little things that warm your heart.
Your inner critic has little to offer you. Realize how silly your inner talk can be. You’d never be friends with a person that tore you down day after day. And you’d certainly never take them seriously. You’d stay as far away as you possibly could.
Use these tips to keep your inner critic at bay. Develop the habit of speaking positively to yourself instead. Your self-confidence and success will soar.