Dealing with the inner critic
We all have that voice in our head that keeps us safe, challenges our inner views and makes sure we stay true to our moral code.
It lets us know when we should have made a different decision or approached a situation differently. It tells us to ‘do better & fight for more’.
Its a very important voice….
However what often happens is that these voices can become very critical and negative and hold us back rather than helping us to progress.
Sometimes we’ve become so accustomed to hearing voices telling us ‘how stupid we are or how disgusting we are for being so fat, or what a disorganised mess we live in’. That we need to be ‘cooler, slime, more inteligent’ that ‘you should be doing this or doing that’. The inner critic can often dismiss our feelings and tell us how ridiculous we are for feeling a certain way. Tell you that no one wants to speak to you, that you are not worth much.
The critic stuck in our head will often focus on one particular mistake we did and play it over and over again. Each time causing us to fill up with shame, re-live the pain and feel frustrated and disappointed about the kind of person we are.
When the inner critic starts to have this level of control over our emotions it can really get us down. It doesn’t allow us to live confidently, creatively or boldly.
She keeps you in the house, not going to events you want to, not saying hi to people on the street and all in the same boring clothes you wear everyday.
However there is another way.
My inner critic can be incredibly loud, analytical and invasive and I have learnt that there is some great techniques to keep her in the corner where she belongs
1. Ask her who she is
A technique that I use with my clients a lot is to work out who she is. Your mum? Your sister? Your best friend at school when you were 15? Or perhaps it is you but you when you were 15, 17 or 21? Often the voice doesn’t actually belong to our present day selves. By working out who she is, we can separate ourselves from her and we can find it easier to disregard her unhelpful and depressing point of view.
2. Have a conversation with her
This is important. You need to sit down with her and find out what she is worried about, what her deepest fears are. Listen to her an the worries she has. Acknowledge them and don’t be dismissive. Then take her somewhere she would like for a coffee, or a cup of tea and explain to her that you’ve got this, that the things she understandably worry’s about are things you can handle. The voice in your head probably hasn’t matured over the years, whereas you have.
3. Say Thank you
She’s been keeping you safe for a few years, before you move on to a new way of thinking, say thank you to her for all her support.
4. Re-train what she focuses on
This step is probably the most important and has been the most impactful in my own life: Everyday write out 3 things that you are most grateful for. Vary them day to day but be consistent and even when you are (or she) is in the foulest mood hunt them out. If you are short on time do it while you boil the kettle or brush your teeth.
5. Share it
If you still can’t shake the negative voices, then take away her power by sharing them: Write them down and talk them through. Remind yourself that ‘Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes’ (thank you Oscar Wild).
If you feel your inner critic is taking over, please know you are not alone, you are not crazy, you are just in an unskilled place and your internal voices really think they are helping you!