We all carry around a critic in our head that appears to be focused on making us miserable.
What does the voice sound like for you?
My tormentor’s voice was the woman that raised me. I endured years of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse from the woman that gave birth to me. Imagine there is a radio playing in the background. The radio announcer is your inner critic. In this case, the announcer was my own mother and her ‘voice’ disrupted every area of life.
If I had difficulty understanding a new concept or wrapping my mind, I would hear her ‘voice’ announce:
“You were always slow”
If I had difficulty finding clothes that fit my tall frame, long arms and legs, I would hear her ‘voice’ announce:
“I NEVER liked your shape, I am happy never had those problems”
If I a close friend hurt me or disrespected me, I would hear her ‘voice’ announce:
“You were always weak and too trusting”
The criticism was relentless and brutal in nature. Criticize. Rinse. Repeat. This was 24/7 cycle. No interruptions.
You can imagine how this impacted my quality of life. I knew I need to silence ‘her’ voice.
The first thing I did was remove any credibility the ‘voice’ had. I took away her role as my life advisor and expert on all matters.
Here are a few other things to I did to change how viewed my internal dialogue:
- Listen to your inner critic dispassionately. Just stop and listen for a minute. Notice the things it says. It won’t take long before you realize you’re listening to a petty lunatic. In fact, listen to your self-talk in general. Imagine what “you” say to yourself while you’re watching TV:
* “Oh yeah! I love this movie, except the acting stinks and some parts are boring. I think I have time to go to the bathroom and get a snack before it starts getting good.
The girl in this movie reminds me of Tasha from high school. She always wore that weird jewelry. I wonder if she married Jordan. I should’ve gone to the junior prom with Jordan. I looked fat in my prom dress and I never should have gone with Ricky.
I’m still fat and can barely get off the couch because I’m stuck so far down in the cushions. If my mom had treated me better, I wouldn’t be so addicted to eating junk and drinking copious amounts of wine. I loved watching Fat Albert when I was a kid…”
* What would happen if you were sitting next to a person rambling on like this? You’d be looking for the nearest exit. Yet this is the way we speak to ourselves. Realize that you’re listening to someone you’d avoid in real life. There’s no reason to take self-talk seriously, but we drag this inner dialog around with us and listen to it!
- Ask yourself what you would say to a friend or a child in the same situation. Or imagine what your best friend would say to you. The language, comments, and advice would be much different than what you say to yourself.
* When your critical dialog starts, ignore the criticism and consciously practice being as gentle with yourself, as you would to a friend or a child.
- Remember all the times you were successful. Psychologists believe it requires ten positive experiences to overcome one bad experience. Take a couple of minutes each day to remember the all the amazing things you’ve accomplished.
* In fact, with diligence, this can become a habit. As soon as a negative thought enters your mind, you can instantly think of something positive, instead.
- Write it down. Instead of just hearing your inner critic, write down what was said and read it. It will seem less credible in a new format.
- Put the criticism to the test. What evidence do you have to support this negative statement? Can you think of instances in the past where this statement was false?
* If you were more positive, how would you view this situation? What can you gain from your current situation?
- Keep your mind on today. The past is of little value today and tomorrow is impossible to predict. Keep your attention on making the most of today. By doing that consistently, tomorrow will take care of itself.
- Be grateful. The easiest way to uplift your mood and your self-talk is to spend time feeling grateful. List the things in your life that fill you with feelings of gratitude.
Your inner critic has little to offer you.
Your inner critic is misleading you and offers silly, petty advice, if you can even call it that.
You’d never be friends with a person that spoke that way to you. Furthermore, you’d certainly never take them seriously! You’d stay as far away as you possibly could.
Use these tips to keep your inner critic under control, if not remove all together, and develop the habit of speaking positively to yourself, instead.
When I did, I enabled my self-confidence and success to soar and the same could be said for you too!
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