“I am no good.”
“I will never get it right.”
“Everyone else is better than me.”
“I can’t do it.”
Do you find yourself often telling yourself these thoughts? Does your inner critic have a loud voice?
Our inner critic, the voice inside of our head that tells us things that makes us doubt ourselves, oftentimes needs to be silenced. When we listen to this judgmental voice repeatedly, it can wreak havoc on our mental state. This inner voice creates a cycle of negative self-talk that is counterproductive and needs to be tamed.
Many people ask me how to shut off their inner critic. We all have one that lives inside of us, me included. Over the years, I have learned techniques to stop such negative thought spirals. Below I detail those that I have found most helpful in times when that little voice becomes a bit too loud:
- Be aware: Bring awareness to this process. The more we are aware of such thoughts and negative messaging, the more we can bring attention to the necessary shift that we need to make. Our thoughts are not our reality.
- Be an observer: Observe the world inside of you. When we observe our inner landscape, the negative thoughts, images and ideas that are inside of us, we can process these thoughts, allowing us to reframe. This takes a lot of compassion and insight. First, we must see ourselves through a different lens so that we can bring a shift to whatever negative judgment is present in that moment.
- Distract yourself: When you cannot get out of your own head and find yourself focused on a negative thought spiral, distract yourself with something that will feel more productive than staying in that headspace. Go for a walk, grab coffee with a friend, cook. Do something that speaks to you in a meaningful way. Staying in that space can be detrimental; take a thought vacation elsewhere.
- Advise yourself as a friend: We are all great at offering compassion and advice to others. Offer this to yourself. What would you tell your best friend If they were experiencing a loud inner critic? Offer yourself the same kind, compassionate advice that you would give to this friend.
- Reframe: Replace or reframe critical thoughts and judgment with something that is reflective of reality. Examine these negative self-referential thoughts and ask yourself, what is reality and what is an exaggerated form of reality. Look at all the evidence around you, including the positive, as you reframe these critical thoughts.
- Processing and Journaling: It can be helpful to write down these negative feelings that come to the surface. Journaling is a powerful way to release the critic from your body.
- Pull out the good in the process: What do you see or feel in your inner critic that is powerful and positive? How can you take some of what your inner dialogue is sharing into the future in a constructive and positive manner?
Our inner critic is very powerful if we allow it to be. When you take hold of this dialogue, controlling it rather than it controlling you, you can move forward with more confidence and conviction in reaching your goals and living a more positive life.
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