3 Tips to Silence Your Inner Critic
Are you always giving yourself a really hard time? Do you find yourself criticising your body, your skin, the unsightly flaws you wish you could change, the things you say, or the actions you make?
We all have an unkind voice inside of us that likes to find ways to put us down, and unfortunately this voice can be much stronger than the compassionate, loving, accepting voice we have buried deep inside ourselves.
For me, my inner self-critic was one of self hatred, and judgment. Always judging the way I looked – my skin, my body, my lack of intelligence, always complaining about how I could never be good enough compared to everyone else around me. Boy did this part of me really get in the way of my life.
Clinical Psychologist Lisa Firestone says
“The critical inner voice is defined as a well-integrated pattern of negative thoughts toward one’s self that is at the root of an individual’s maladaptive behaviour.”
My well integrated negative thought patterns were first established from primary school when my sister and I relocated to a new school and were racially bullied. Constantly being taunted and picked on for looking different, it didn’t take long to develop a feeling that something was wrong with us.
This bullying progressed into the less than wonderful teenage years of being ridiculed for our physical appearance of being too thin. My sister and I had a major growth spurt, and combined with a killer teenage metabolism, we just did not put on weight no matter how hard we tried. This bullying pushed me even further away from loving the person I was. I looked at all the other girls in my year and wished I looked like them. My self-confidence plummeted and I fell into a spiral of self hatred and internalised anger.
Many scenarios and events in our lives, all contribute to the way we view ourselves. Some people unknowingly or knowingly put us down throughout our life and this has an impact on whom we become. These people can be our teachers, our parents, our friends, our husbands and wives, and other significant people in our lives.
Sometimes people care about us and want to help us, fix us, or shape us by commenting on the way we should talk, behave, the way we should dress, what job we should be doing etc. All to make us fit into a better image of who they think we can or should be. All of these comments eventually add up to make us feel inadequate, like we have less to offer than other people, that something about ourselves is missing, that we are less than whole.
We can start to develop beliefs that we are unwanted, unlovable, and unacceptable. We can start to experience shame for being who we are.
“The critical inner voice is not an actual voice that speaks to us, rather it is experienced as those self-limiting thoughts and attitudes that exists in all of us and keep us from achieving our goals.”
Little did I know that the bullying I experienced would take its toll on my life. I had no confidence; I always thought people were judging me which lead to the unpleasant symptoms of social anxiety. I just didn’t know how to accept the person I was. I thought I was destined for less than great things. I always put myself down, I never had any goals, I never strived for anything, and I always tried to get the acceptance and love I was craving from others in my relationships.
Thankfully my life lead me onto a journey that has really helped me to transform the way I view myself. I like everyone else, still have some bad days, but I am happy to say most of the time I can change those bullying words to loving, self accepting words I know I deserve to hear instead. And I gotta say, I am pretty grateful for my killer metabolism now!
Here are my 3 tips to silence your inner self-critic and guide you towards a beautiful life of self acceptance instead.
1. Become aware of its presence
Becoming aware that you have a part of you that criticises you is the absolute number one powerful tip you can take on board. If you are aware of it, it means you can change it.
Write down on a piece of paper all the things your inner critic is telling you. Trust me this is going to be a really easy task because most of the time it is on replay all day long, you just have to put pen to paper.
Now have a think about where this critical voice came from. Whose voice is this? Is it the bullies, your parents, teachers, old friends, toxic partners? Identify it and write it down next to each criticism.
Becoming aware of this critical inner voice means you can now separate this voice from your real voice and realise that those criticisms aren’t you, they were someone else’s and you don’t need to carry them around with you anymore.
With all this negativity in your head, how do you think it has stopped you from achieving your goals, speaking up or striving for your dreams? Where has this critical voice spoken up and stopped the real part of you from having a voice?
2. Turn it around with positive self- talk
I know a lot of people get really annoyed with being told to engage in positive self-talk. They say it is so hard to be positive when I believe I am worthless, or I believe I am unwanted or I believe I don’t deserve to be happy. Well positive self talk is a good step in the right direction. Positive self-talk can help to uplift you and it has the power to transform your negative energy in a heartbeat. It helps you shift yourself away from the darkness you are sitting in and let some light in.
No matter how hard it is, when you notice your inner critic is trying to take the stage, acknowledge it wants to have a voice, and choose some thoughts that are a little more positive. These positive words do not have to be the complete opposite of the inner critic. We want you to move yourself towards positivity, not laugh at it.
Inner Self Critic: You can’t go for that new job position, they will never choose you, you don’t have the qualities that other applicants will have, don’t be stupid, you will just be laughed at.
Real Loving Self: I think you should apply for this new job role, it feels exciting, you have some great experience, and you a lot to offer. Do the best you can.
The more you practice this, the more your real self will naturally start to have a say.
3. Breathe life into the real you
This means breathing life into the real part of your self (not the false self) – the beautiful, courageous, limitless, quirky part of you that wants to start taking charge. It wants to be so bright it drowns out that inner critic inside of you.
Take some paper and write down all of the great things about you. You’re strengths, your positive qualities, your achievements, the magic in you that you know is there. If this is hard for you to do, write down all of the positive things your best friend, parents or partner would say about you. This is often a lot easier to do.
Look at each strength or quality and sit with it. Allow its positivity to really sink into your soul until you feel tingly all over. Allow these qualities to really be apart of you, because they already are, they are what makes you wonderful in your own unique way, you just need to breathe a little more life into them.
Carve some loving time out for yourself each week, and do this. Do this until it becomes apart of you, until this voice speaks louder than the critical voice that isn’t yours.
I would love love love to hear what works for you to drown out your inner critic. What do you do to allow the real you take the stage?