Post Updated on August 19, 2020
Think about a time when you were criticized by someone else. Maybe they made a comment about your appearance, behavior, or way of thinking.
If you’re anything like me, you probably took it to heart and thought about it for way too long. It takes a lot of self-confidence to not care what other people think of you.
Let’s be honest, it feels awful to be criticized.
When we are criticized by others, we tend to experience a chain of reactions that goes like this:
1. Anger: How could you say that about me? I don’t like you right now.
2. Disbelief: I can’t believe you just said that. I would never criticize you.
3. Opposition: No way, you’re totally wrong about that.
4. Self-Doubt: Wait…what if you’re right?
5. Belief: I’m not good enough anymore.
6. Fear: I’m terrified to do anything in case I fail.
What starts out as a series of feelings and thoughts becomes an actual belief that holds you back from your dreams.
The thing is, we do this to ourselves all. the. freaking. time. Instead of someone else criticizing us, we criticize ourselves and trick ourselves into thinking we’re incapable of the extraordinary.
What is the inner critic?
There’s this thing called the inner critic that basically gives us an internal monologue of all the things we suck at. This negative inner voice convinces us that we are not worthy enough, not pretty enough, and not charismatic enough to be successful. Just as a bully might pick on your weaknesses, the inner critic feeds off of self-doubt.
This negative self-talk causes us to believe things that no one else but us plants into our heads. It’s like having a friend constantly telling you everything that’s wrong with you. Would you keep a friend like that around? No.
When we start to believe these negative thought patterns, it can really impact our lives. If we are letting our inner critics control our behavior and actions, how can we be the best versions of ourselves?
Because I would never want you to hold yourself back from being your greatest self, just as I am working to do the same for myself, I wanted to share a few tips for not letting the inner critic get the best of you.
How To Deal With Your Inner Critic
Create a safe place in your mind
If you wanted to give someone some constructive criticism, how would you do it? You’d first want to make sure you’re coming from a place of good intentions and not a place of frustration. This is something we can implement for ourselves as well. Taking regular actions to create a safe place in your mind increases your likelihood of maintaining a positive outlook. Think about what centers you and makes you feel safe. Some examples are meditation, going for a walk, yoga, and journaling. Let your mind be a safe space infused with positive thinking and self-love.
Increase your awareness
An important step in dealing with your inner critic is simply to create more self-awareness when it’s happening. This allows us to understand where our beliefs and thoughts about ourselves come from. If you’re able to recognize the moments when your inner critic is telling you something, you give yourself a chance to question it and therefore reduce the likelihood that you’ll believe it. Lastly, try to identify thoughts as nothing more than thoughts. Thoughts are not facts or realities. They do not define you.
Reframe the role of the inner critic
There’s a lot of advice out there for silencing or conquering your inner critic. I personally think it’s impossible to get rid of the inner critic once and for all, simply because this will always be part of our journey through life. Instead, we have to figure out how we can use the inner critic to motivate us and keep moving us forward.
We have a choice in how we respond to criticism from ourselves and others, and the key is to respond to it productively and wisely. If we look at the inner critic as a challenge that encourages us to take action and prove it wrong, we are constantly given challenges to overcome. In my opinion, this keeps life more interesting anyway.
Bring in positive reinforcement
The thing about negative self-talk is that you need to make sure you’re balancing it out (and going above and beyond) with positive self-talk. If we return to the example of giving someone else constructive criticism, you’d probably want to first tell them what they’re doing a good job at before you tell them what they need to improve on. The same goes for yourself. Remind yourself often of your accomplishments. Keep an accomplishment log or journal, take pictures to remind yourself, or tell someone else what you did. For goodness sake, tell yourself you’re proud! Self-love is a vital factor in increasing your self-worth.
Ask for help when you need it
When we get overwhelmed with our never-ending to-do lists, self-care becomes less and less of a priority. When this happens, our minds and bodies feel drained of energy. We run ourselves into the ground which means we’re less likely to focus on positive self-talk. That’s when the inner critic gets its chance to take over again. If we make sure we’re asking for help when we need it (asking others AND ourselves), we reduce overwhelm, get some time to nourish ourselves and let our positive inner voice take control again.
Share your thoughts below
What does your inner critic tell you most often? How do you deal with negative self-talk?