Say 3 good things about yourself…
I’m a good friend. Are you? Are you really though? I have a list of your epic friend-fails to hand if you want it! I’m hardworking. Seriously? I’ve met sloths more hardworking than you! I have a big heart. What so it fits in your fat body?
That’s my inner critic talking. Vile isn’t she!
Up until earlier this year she dominated my thought process so much I couldn’t say even one good thing about myself. However, through working as I do focusing on well-being, I began to notice it more & start to label the behaviour, thus putting it at the forefront of something I urgently needed to address.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment I silenced my inner enemy. The majority of it occurred through the therapy I undertook. That’s not to say only therapy will quieten it down. I also learnt a lot by listening to well-being talks & reading self-help books – so the answers are out there.
But here are the things I’ve personally done to silence my inner critic (alternatively named: Put that b*tch in her corner!)
One of the first things I did was learn to recognise when I was doing it. Unless you’re noticing the behaviour you can’t work to tune it out. When you catch yourself making an inner-negative comment, take a focused second to note it (we’ll go on to what to do with it in a moment)
I also came to understand the vast amount of negativity I was feeding myself was coming from my perception of what I believed other people thought of me.
After having interactions with people have you ever sat and mentally dissected everything about what you did, said & how you think you came across? I did. This often repeated exercise was one of my largest anxiety drivers and was perhaps the biggest amplifier of my inner critics voice.
My therapist asked me ‘Are you a mind-reader?’
‘Then why are you trying to be one?’
Good point, well made. It was time to stop.
At first it was difficult, old-destructive habits die hard and all that, but I when I caught myself doing it, I would do 3-things.
- Tell myself to stop
- Apologise to myself (this behaviour is never OK)
- Gently remind myself that whatever I had done or said, was what felt right & true for me in that moment. As long as I acted from a place of love & good intention, then I had done my best – and my best was good enough.
I share a technique I learned during therapy that helped me on my path to accepting myself more and strengthened this practice here.
Make your actions speak louder than your words…
Have you heard the saying, ‘It’s not when you tell me you love me, it’s when you show me you love me that matters’? The same can be said for yourself.
If you act like somebody who values yourself, you’re already a long way down the path to understanding that your inner critic is actually a big fat liar.
I was doing things that were contradictory to what this horrible voice in my head was telling me. I was undergoing therapy, growing a business, developing myself. My actions were saying I am worth something. Pretty soon my inner-self caught up with the program.
Shut-up OR, I just can’t take you seriously…
I was at a well-being talk recently & two speakers were sharing their tips on silencing your inner critic. They both came at it from a different perspective, but I guess, they’re equally worth a try.
Speaker one believed your inner critic is always there, you just need to learn to reason with it. She also advocated adopting a comedic figure, with a silly voice – a visualisation to remove the power from it.
Speaker two was a bit less cuddly about it all. She felt that as we owned the voice in our head, we had absolute power over it. Therefore, we shouldn’t allow it to exist. We should shut that b*tch up for good. Your thoughts, are your thoughts, own them.
Personally, having heard & tried both, this is my opinion… I don’t believe you can silence your inner critic for good. We are too complex and have too many thoughts to prevent her from occasionally piping up. But the main word for me in that is – occasionally – with practice, you don’t have to hear her all of the time. I don’t add a silly voice or character to it, for me, just the words shut-up are enough, but that won’t be the case for everyone. You do need to explore what works for you. And you do need to put in the self-acceptance groundwork in order to get to a place where you have enough self-belief a simple ‘shut-up’ will suffice.
As I mentioned before, a lot of the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves come from what we assume other people think about us. Most of the time, this is a narrative we’ve simply made-up in our minds, with no evidence to support it. Sometimes however, there are toxic relationships in our lives that provide harmful fuel to our inner critic’s engine.
I know it’s not always avoidable, but being around people who make you feel worthless is not worth-it. Whether you work to improve the relationship, which I’ve discussed in From Foe to Friend: Overcoming Conflict in Relationships or whether you make the decision to move on, you must always put your well-being first.
You can read about my experience here: Being You: The Importance of Being True to Yourself.
Maintaining the peace!
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but silencing your inner critic does require time & practice, but trust me, it can be done. Remember you create the narrative you tell yourself. Let’s make less space for a critic who grinds you down & more space for a kind voice who builds you up!
Ready to start building up your sense of self-worth? Read: 5 ways to build up your self-worth.
Have you ever tried silencing your inner critic – how did you get on? Do you feel any of these tips speak to you? Do you have any of your own tips or experiences to share? I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via the comments box below.