Do You Have an Inner Critic? What To Do!
What I want to talk about today is our “Inner Critic”. We all have an Inner Critic to some degree and the louder it is the more debilitating it is. What is the Inner Critic? Call it whatever you want, but it is basically negative self-talk and self-doubt. It's that voice in your head telling you you're not good enough. You're not smart enough, you're not pretty enough, you’re not funny enough, your art isn't as good as someone else's and the list goes on and on. Sound familiar?
Now, the question I hear most: “So what do I DO?”
Assuming you are not in therapy processing this with your therapist already, here are some practical steps to start with (please keep in mind, the Inner Critic is part of the human experience. To completely silence it is not the goal here. The goal is to take back the power it has over you, your sense of self, and your life).
The first step is to notice your Inner Critic. This is an exercise in self-awareness. Try to catch its voice in your head. What is it saying? How long has it been saying such things? Does it say this in a variety of situations in your life? How does it make you feel? How does it make you act? How does it affect your life?
After we realize it’s there, we try to understand where it came from. Have you ever seen a baby who doesn't think she or he is good enough; who questions its needs or abilities? No. We are not born to think this way. We learn it. That's a really empowering thing to consider, because if the Inner Critic is something we learned or heard or acquired along the way, it's not really us. What it says is not really true, and it can be unlearned. Ask yourself, who does this voice sound like? Often it's a parent, authority figure, or someone who impacted our lives at a young age. This isn't about blaming. It is about realizing this is not your voice, and what this voice says, you do not necessarily believe. It may be the voice of someone else who also acquired their own Inner Critic and passed it down to you.
The next time you find yourself thinking you’re not good enough, you will now notice it. Once you are aware of it, it will become hard not to notice it! You may also begin to understand from where you picked the voice up from. You may realize it is someone else’s thought, not your own, and you don’t have to listen to it. Once you have distanced yourself form your Inner Critic, you will be ready for the last step; to challenge it. Hear what it is saying as if it is talking to someone else. Try to be emotionally non-reactive and simply observe it: Would you let someone talk like that to your best friend? To your child? To your dog? What would you say in their defense? As you question the validity of this voice, begin to challenge it. Tell it all the reasons why it is wrong. Think about all the exceptions to what it is saying.
This won't change overnight. The Inner Critic is relentless and has grown louder over the years. It may be difficult to change. But, you can. And each time you notice it for what it is, and you question and challenge it, you can eventually choose not to listen to it and even nurture yourself instead. Your true self, which is unconditionally loving and supportive, will grow louder, and be there for you.
Try it out!
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