All of us have the voice inside our heads that guide us in our behaviors. I call the negative naysayer voice my “inner critic.” The inner critic can be that voice that tells you that you are bad, wrong, inadequate, worthless, or guilty. The voice that makes you doubt your ability to attain your goals, or gives you negative thoughts on your appearance. The list of criticisms that we can hear from our inner critic is endless.
“In the inner courtroom of my mind, mine is the only judgment that counts.”Nathaniel Branden
This inner critic has been developing inside you since you were little. When we don’t identify it and separate ourselves from it, it has the ability to shape our behaviors and alter the outcome of our lives. It may diminish our successes or destroy our relationships, preventing us from living the lives we want to lead and becoming the people we try to be.
Typical inner critics tell us:
- “You’re ugly.”
- “You’re worthless.”
- “You’re stupid.”
- “You’re fat.”
- “There’s something wrong with you.”
- “You’re different from other people.”
We do not have to become a victim of our inner critic. We can take steps to tame the negative messages that are inside our minds. Our thoughts definitely have an impact on our actions and feelings so it is important to control them. Many times they may become a self-fulfilling prophesy so it is important to be aware of these thoughts.
Here are ways to control your inner critic:
- Develop an awareness of your thoughts – recognize that thoughts are not necessarily the truth.
- Stop contemplating these negative messages – if you made a mistake, try and let it go. Go for a walk or exercise to help your brain think of something else.
- Ask yourself what advice you’d give to a friend – give yourself the words of encouragement you would give a friend if he/she expressed these negative messages.
- Examine the truth or falseness of the evidence – this will help you look at the situation more sensibly and less emotionally.
- Replace overly critical thoughts with more accurate statements – avoid exaggerated negative thoughts like, “I never…” or “I’m always…”
- Balance acceptance with self-improvement – there are always things we can work on to improve. Know your strengths and areas where you need growth.
“Your inner critic is simply a part of you that needs more self-love.”Amy Leigh Mercree
Your inner conversations will either empower you for success or prevent you from reaching your full potential. While your inner critic can help you recognize areas where you need to grow, overly cruel negative self-talk may inhibit you from doing what is needed to attain your goals. Practice quieting your inner critic and diminishing the negative messages so your true wonderful self can shine through.