We all have an inner critic that talks to us and offers us “advice”. Trouble is, this kind of self-talk can be very negative and unhelpful, especially when it comes to self love and can create a lot of anxiety and even shame.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you have a strong inner critic that excels at making you feel bad about yourself. Silencing this inner critic is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. It won’t necessarily be easy but you can encourage your mind to engage in positive self-talk!
Here are some tips for moving away from self-criticism and adopting thoughts patterns that are much more helpful and self-loving.
Think about what you’d tell other people
If the same situation happened to a friend, it’s very doubtful that you’d tell them the same things you tell yourself. We tend to be a lot harsher to ourselves than we are to other people, especially when it comes to mistakes. Next time your inner critic pipes up, try asking yourself what you’d say if it had happened to a friend.
Break long standing negative beliefs
A lot of us have deep seated beliefs that we have held since we were young. You may not be aware of them if they have become second nature so the first step is to understand which ones you may hold and how they have been influencing your behaviour.
For example, maybe you believe that you’re not good at certain things because of a bad experience earlier on in life or maybe you assume that you’re just not cut out for weight loss because you’ve not had success with diets. Or your inner critic might repeatedly tell you that you always get everything wrong and are useless.
Whatever form it takes, this negative self talk can then become a self fulfilling prophecy as an adult and leads to repeating patterns around these beliefs. At its worst, your inner critic can lead to destructive “coping” habits such as overeating, drinking too much or taking drugs. At the very least, it can really hold you back in life and stop you being “you”.
The next step is to challenge these beliefs. If you’re being really objective, deep down you’ll know that there isn’t any real evidence to back them up. And if you dip deep enough and are really honest with yourself, you’ll probably find plenty of examples of situations that completely debunk the belief(s).
Focus on your strengths
Once you can recognize that your deep seated beliefs are not truths, you can focus on your strengths and start to see yourself in a different way. You won’t be defined by these beliefs and they can have less influence on your behaviour.
Your inner critic can make it hard to appreciate your “wins” but there is where a “proud moments” journal can work wonders. It helps you to appreciate the things that you’re good at and retrains your mind to see the best in you, rather than the areas that you think you’re lacking in.
Another trick is to write a list of your strengths and keep it folded up in your purse. Whenever your inner critic comes to the fore, you can refer to this list and remind you of your strengths. If you can’t come up with many on your own, rope in family and friends to tell you what they see your strengths as. They’ll be able to open your eyes to a lot of things that you don’t feel that you’re good at and this can help you to see yourself differently.
Adopting a more mindful way of dealing with your thoughts can help your inner critic to be less powerful. If you’ve been so used to your self-criticism that it’s now second nature, mindfulness can also be a great way to make yourself aware of your critical thoughts in the first place. Once you can identify when they happen, you’re in a much better place to challenge them. You might it helpful to record patterns between your negative self-talk and how you feel when it happens.
Challenging your inner critic
To some extent, your inner critic is protecting you from feeling certain emotions but this isn’t particularly helpful in the long term. Ask yourself what it is that you’re really scared of.
These may be quite wide ranging emotions when you dig deeper. For example, telling yourself that you’re fat and unattractive if you put weight on can be masking deeper feelings about losing control, fear and failure.
Acknowledging and getting in touch with the real emotions allows you to tell your inner critic that you understand where it’s coming from but you’re perfectly okay to deal with them.
Use positive affirmations
Making positive mantras and affirmations a key part of your day can help to move your thought patterns from negative to positive. This can be really effective for silencing your inner critic if you adapt your affirmations to focus on positive things about yourself – particularly areas that you feel negative about right now. Over time, it should help to retrain your thought processes.
Need help to silence your inner critic?
I can work with you to implement daily mindfulness practices and change your mindset, one step at a time. Book your FREE Kickstart Coaching Session to find out more at www.mayhemtomindful.com.au/schedule or call me on +61402 437 922.