5 Tips to Help Soothe and Quieten Your Inner Critic
Did you know that most women criticise themselves on average at least 8 times a day! We are often our own harshest critics.
Evidence shows we tend to be self-critical about the way we look and the way we feel about our careers, our finances and our relationships and the more negative we are, the more negative our life becomes and the worse we feel about ourselves – and so begins the negative loop into lack of confidence, anxiety and even depression! Yes, harsh, critical words we say to ourselves is one of the main factors in depression.
Most of the time this inner critic isn’t even ours, it comes from the messages, stories and beliefs about ourselves that were formed in our early childhood when we were growing up, especially if we had a challenging childhood, or a dysfunctional family, or experienced bullying, trauma and anxiety provoking events and situations.
Just know that if you have a tendency to be over critical and hard on yourself, you’re not alone. Most people experience it and this definitely used to be me.
I had a lifetime of struggling with not feeling good enough, smart enough, qualified enough, attractive enough, thin enough and pretty much everything enough since about the age of 9 and kept beating myself up about it. Although nobody would ever have known. I did well at school and passed exams, was a talented athlete, went to University and then went on to have a long and successful leadership career in NHS management.
To the outside world I came across as confident, competent and sociable but on the inside I always had those gnawing, knotted, anxious feelings you get when you doubt yourself, don’t feel happy with yourself, don’t even like – never mind love yourself and wish you could be anyone else other than you.
The signs were there though, despite me keeping them hidden – debilitating anxiety, an eating disorder, bouts of depression and over-drinking! Just some of the self-destructive sabotage of the inner critic.
So, I’ve been there and don’t mind admitting that it took me years to overcome it because I didn’t realise the power of that negative internal dialogue. Your words affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and have a massive impact on your life.
Now that I’ve done the deep inner work and know better, here are my top 5 tips to help quieten your inner critic.
Think back to your earliest memory of being criticised and not feeling good enough. How old were you? What was going on in your life? Who or what made you feel that way?
Notice when your inner critic keeps showing up, spot the pattern and then ask yourself is it really your internal dialogue or someone else’s? Then ask yourself why are you holding on to this inner critic, when really it came from someone else?
Usually, the reason they are there is to help protect you in some way from emotional pain, whether that’s rejection, judgement, failure, humiliation and so on. Speak to your inner critic as if it is the younger childhood version of you and ask it what it is trying to do for you. Then think about whether the younger, childhood version of you is making the best decisions and still serving you as the adult you are today.
Have compassion for that inner critic part of you that may have felt scared, rejected and helpless as the young child and thinks it’s shielding you from further pain and keeping you safe. Thank it and know that you have the power and choice to let it go.
Visualise your inner critic as your inner cheerleader or inner coach instead who replaces those harsh critical words, with kindness, compassion, empathy, encouragement, compliments and praise and installs self-belief and a “can do” attitude into you.
Every thought you think causes a physical reaction and an emotional response in you. There is scientific evidence based on self-affirmation theory that suggests self-praise and positive affirmations are beneficial for our physical, mental and emotional health and well-being and can have a positive impact on our resilience and how we handle life’s challenges.
It’s a fact, harsh critical words make you physically weaker and positive, praising, empowering words make you stronger.
Your subconscious thoughts and inner dialogue can either support you or prevent you from creating the life and happiness you want and these tips should help.
If you feel you need more, then book a connection call to see how I can help you harness the power of your mind to work for you so it truly becomes your cheerleader.