Don’t believe everything you think.
What is your inner critic and why do you need to silence it? It’s that tiny nagging voice that plays into our biggest fears. It tells us that we are not smart enough, handsome/pretty enough, too fat, too thin, too awkward, not good enough at our jobs… you get the point. It’s the voice inside our heads that is our own worst enemy. These thoughts are demeaning, belittling, and sometimes downright cruel. And without consciously refuting these thoughts, they can become the most believable. After all, we all have a natural tendency to believe that we know best. Now isn’t that ironic? I dare someone to try to get away with some of the things I’ve told myself! I double dog dare you! All jokes aside, we have the ability to be more cruel to ourselves than most of us would ever dream of being to another person, even to people we don’t like. This is a habit that can develop quickly and can do more damage than you might realize. For most of us it begins in childhood, maybe someone else criticized you for something and you internalized it. Maybe you heard your parental figure criticize someone else, or even themselves, and you began to think that way about others and yourself too.
“I can’t believe I missed that detail in that report. Ugh, why am I so stupid sometimes?”
“I shouldn’t even bother asking my boss for a raise because I’m not as good at my job as so and so. Besides, they have higher qualifications.”
“I don’t know why I wasted my time applying for that job. There’s no way they would hire me with my level of education.”
“I’m not going to the party, I’m awkward and they (your crush) would never want to be with someone like me.”
Sometimes we flex our egos and cover up these self-deprecating thoughts as curmudgeonly behavior. Knowing this is unhealthy we become ashamed of these thoughts we cover it up and say instead, “I’m not a people person.” Or, “I don’t like parties.” Sure, you may feel overwhelmed by a lot of noise, or maybe you don’t enjoy drinking or being around others drinking. And these are valid reasons, but we need to get really honest with ourselves and look at what might be standing in the way of developing meaningful connections with others.
Or how about this?
“I can’t believe I wasted my time on that jerk, they were no good for me.” This one is a bit tricky, after all it’s tinged with positive self-awareness of knowing your worth, but still reeks of negativity and destructive, belittling criticism for both you and the other person.
So how do you make it stop? How do you put an end to that nasty voice? And how do you stop judging yourself?
Put an end to it for good. Easier said than done right? I’m not so sure. You can start with becoming consciously aware each time it happens. What does that even mean? Becoming acutely aware of every single thought. Mindful meditation is a good start in helping you to become more aware of your subconscious thoughts. Use self-reflection to bring awareness to your thoughts. Write them down if you need to. I guarantee that if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll become of some pretty awful things that absolutely aren’t true. Or maybe you still believe them to be true. But whether you believe it or not, you MUST defend yourself!
Start by imagining that your best friend, partner, son, or daughter, is performing in a play and freezes on stage. They forget their lines. Now imagine some jerk in the audience starts laughing and shouts, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT, THEY FORGOT THEIR LINES! GET OFF THE STAGE! BOO!” How did that make you feel? Like you want to cry? Angry? Good! Now imagine it’s you standing on that stage and they’re talking to you. That jerk in the audience is your inner critic.
It is easy to confuse our inner critic with healthy self-reflection. It is equally difficult to confuse constructive criticisms from others, particularly when our inner critic has taken over.
Stop judging and criticizing others.
This part is just as important to quieting our own inner critic. It is crucial, that we recognize how much we criticize and judge others. This may be more difficult to stop, particularly when it comes to people we don’t like, or don’t know. I’ll dive a little deeper into this subject another day.
But, I don’t want to become an arrogant jerk with an inflated ego.
Well… I mean… kidding! But in all fairness, there may be moments where you hear yourself say something arrogant. And you might think to yourself, “Dang, what a jerky thing to say. That came off as so arrogant!” That’s okay! You’re starting something new. It’s bound to happen. You’re literally re-wiring neurons in your brain, which takes time. Don’t ruminate on it, and be forgiving of yourself. You can’t expect to be perfect at something you’ve never done before. Imagine a toddler learning to walk getting a little too confident and falling down, are you going to laugh, or encourage them to get up and try again? Apply that same level of encouragement and patience with yourself, and you’ll eventually find that balance of confidence without arrogance. It just takes some practice, as with anything.
Positive self-talk and affirmations
Now that you’ve recognized how often your inner critic chimes in unwelcomed, it’s time to replace those thoughts with positive self-talk and affirmations. This is where you get to repeat to yourself over and over that you are enough, just as you are. Repeat after me, in the words of wisdom from Stuart Smalley, “I deserve good things, I am entitled to my share of happiness, I refuse to beat myself up, I am an attractive person, I am fun to be with…I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggonit, people like me.” In all fairness, I once laughed hysterically at this SNL character, and still laugh a little at myself when I sound like his parrot. The words of affirmation absolutely do work however, no joke. You do deserve good things, and you are loveable.
Not feeling supported by friends and family?
It is common for the people we are closest to, to be the least supportive during positive growth. Not because they don’t want you to be happy, because if they really care they want what’s best for you. And at the same time, they may be subconsciously afraid of losing you and will show it in their behaviors and actions. I’ll delve a little deeper into this resistance to change in my next post. For now, trust that deep down, people who truly care about you, want what is best for you. Don’t let their fear discourage you, this is not their journey. It is yours, and yours alone. You get to decide who you want to be in this world.