If you gave your inner genius as much credence as your inner critic, you would be light years ahead of where you now stand.
Everyone has an inner critic that is constantly chattering somewhere in our brain. It is that voice that challenges everything we do, points out our smallest mistake over and over again, and seems determined to focus on everything that we have done wrong in the past, are doing wrong in the present, and will do wrong in the future.
The inner critic is not going to go away, but we can learn to control this aspect of ourselves through a strategic approach. The inner critic is the source of negative thoughts that lead to negative self-talk. The more we focus on what we cannot do correctly, at least according to our inner critic, the lower our self-confidence and motivation to try new things.
Recognizing the inner critic’s message is the first step. When you have self-talk that sounds like:
- I am bad/wrong/lazy/weak/etc
- I am not worthy of love or relationships
- People are against me
- Nobody respects me
- I cannot do this
When you hear these thoughts in your mind, step up to the plate and challenge your inner critic.
Acknowledge the Message
Rather than trying to banish your inner critic, bring the thought to light and examine it closely. Ask yourself why you are feeling this way, what evidence you have to support this, and what evidence do you have that this is not correct.
Write out a list of beliefs from your inner critic and the reality of the situation. If the inner critic says you cannot do this, write down examples of things you have accomplished. This allows us to put the incorrect information from the inner critic in perspective.
Be Kind to Yourself
When you find yourself becoming self-critical, stop and give yourself a compassionate or positive message. These are sometimes called affirmations or positive self-talk. Over time, people can replace their harsh inner critic with a more self-accepting voice. Repeat these compassionate and positive thoughts as part of a morning and evening routine.
When your inner critic starts yelling, turning to something you enjoy and that takes your mind off the message is a productive choice. Call a friend, play a game, read a great book, sing along to your favorite music, or spend time with family in fun and uplifting conversations.
Your inner critic is not you. Recognizing the difference and learning to muffle or silence your inner critic opens up a positive and creative side of your life.