Your Inner Critic Wants to Protect You
Divorce and becoming a single mother can make you feel like you’re not good enough. But this feeling of unworthiness starts much earlier. Every negative message and comment directed towards you early in your life end up sticking around as a supercritical voice in your head. You might know it as your inner voice telling you stuff like:
“You look so fat in that picture”
“There is NO-WAY you can do that”
“Nobody will listen to you”
“You don’t have anything valuable to give”
“You’re not smart enough to do that”.
But it’s important to realise it’s there only to protect you, keep you safe and prevent you from getting hurt. But it’s not at all going to help you GROW!
The Feeling of Failure Sucks
Even some seemingly dumb experiences can give this voice strength to hold you back!
I know for me it was being really good at netball and not making it into the rep team when I was 13! That might not seem like a big deal to some people but it was one of those ‘moments’ that made me think ‘I’m not good enough’…or should I say the experience made me BELIEVE I wasn’t good enough.
My inner voice would say things like “you’re not as good as you think you are”, so why try out the following year and risk feeling all that disappointment again?
Let’s face it, to an untrained mind the feeling of failure sucks. It was only trying to protect me from feeling bad, but does that voice help me grow. Nup, no-way.
Your Inner Critic Will Keep You Stuck
If left unchecked that harsh internal critical voice can quickly spiral you into feeling like crap or even into depression.
Messages that tell you that you’re not good enough, not capable, become part of what you tell yourself in your mind on a daily basis. It becomes a habit and you don’t know any different. Once there, those messages can be challenging to remove or reframe.
It’s not your true thoughts, it’s a self-destructive stream of thinking inside your mind that always seeks to keep you safe. Which roughly translates to keeping you stuck, undercutting your happiness and holding you back from success.
You Can Reprogram Your Inner Dialogue
The great news is, you can overcome your inner critic and start reprogramming your mind. Woooo hoooo! Your internal dialogue can be transformed into a positive, comforting companion. It takes some work and doesn’t happen overnight. But there are many ways to shut that voice down. Take a look at the following steps to shedding your inner critical voice and giving yourself a mind massage!
#1 Become aware of what you say to yourself in your head. Most people have a voice running through their thoughts all day, every day. That voice is a negative reflection of our self-image, our self-esteem. When you feel down over something, pay attention to your thoughts. Are they straying into the unrealistically negative?
#2 Let mistakes go. Stop beating yourself up over mistakes, failures or embarrassments. There’s just no use in going over things that didn’t go right. Sometimes people think that be replaying whatever went wrong over and over, they can somehow learn not to make that mistake. In reality, it’s just fodder for our darkest thoughts about ourselves.
#3 Contradict your inner critic’s exaggerations with facts. Your inner critic always exaggerates. For example, an inner voice who tells you that you’re always weak can be countered with your writing or saying to yourself, “No, I have problems sometimes, but here I am. I get through my problems.”
#4 Thank your negative inner voice but don’t do what it tells you! It will tell you to give up, or quit your job, or out and out die. That voice can be that horribly harsh sometimes. But recognise it’s trying to protect you and thank it for looking out for you.
#5 Ask yourself this question: Is this in the best interest for me to achieve my goals and personal growth”. If it’s not leading you to where you want to be. Then recognise your inner critic for doing its job. Act with compassion toward yourself and be true to who you are—the best you, the real you. Let your negative inner voice know the things you want to achieve, the good outcomes in life you deserve, and that you chose to focus on those even though it may be uncomfortable or risky. Life is only lived once huh! Best to try than not to try at all!
#6 Consider what’s the worst that could happen. If your inner voice is screaming that you’re going to blow an important presentation and be fired and never get another job, redirect that scary exaggeration. Consider: even if you got fired, you’d find another job. Make sure to confront your inner voice with reality.
#7 Be kind to yourself. Ask yourself if you’d speak to a friend or your own child in the same way your critical voice speaks to you. Would you tell someone you loved “You always mess up,” or “Why bother? Everyone thinks you’re ridiculous.” Of course, we don’t talk that way to people we value, but we lash ourselves with those terrible statements daily. Extend yourself the same kindness you give others.
So Just Talk Nice To Yourself
Finally, practice self-talk. When your inner critic gets going, tell yourself that the fear isn’t you. Sometimes you’re afraid, because you’re human, and everyone is afraid sooner or later. However, that fear isn’t who you are, and it’s not going to stop you. When it comes to your inner critical voice trying to scare you into immobility, remember that it’s ok to be scared.
Be scared and still go forward boldly with your life! You got this!