Do you Need to Cut Yourself some Slack? ...The 5 Best Ways to Beat your Inner Critic
The truth is that most of us carry around a harsh inner critic who undermines us and taunts us. Much of the time it’s a subtle commentary. Sometimes it can get abusive.
Some of you will recognise this voice immediately. Some of you may barely even notice how it eats away at your confidence. Some of you will argue that it’s justified. That it’s a good motivator. That it helps keep you in check.
It isn’t and it doesn’t. To learn to fight back, read on.
1. Get To Know Your Internal Saboteur
Make a note of what this adversary is telling you. You will likely find that he or she is always lurking, whispering toxic assessments of your actions. This saboteur is attuned to seeing what is wrong. It will nag at you, undermine you, criticise you.
Listen out for it especially when you have new hopes and plans. Or when you are with other people. First dates, business meetings, public speaking – this saboteur goes to town when you feel exposed.
2. Externalise Your Critical Voice
Now you are in a position to get some perspective. Think of a friend. Now imagine that this friend is talking to you in the same way you talk to yourself.
Would you stand for it?
Chances are you would feel defensive and aggressive. You would be far more likely to stand up for yourself against an attack from the outside than you would from one from the inside. Imagine what you would say to that friend in your defence. Build up your case.
Alternatively, imagine appraising your child, friend or mother with the same language you use on yourself? How do you think it would make them feel?
3. Discover What Rules You Are Transgressing
The inner critic operates according to rules – the rules you have set yourself to live by. It thrives in the realm of “must”, “ought” and “should”. You should have got the job...you must be thinner…
The voice is also happy in the realm of “if” and “then”. If I am funny, then people will like me. If I’m thin, then I’ll be happy. As you listen, you may start to realise that some of these rules are absolute, leaving no room for human error. These rules may once have protected you from getting hurt, if they are now causing hurt they are out dated and no longer helpful.
4. Look at The Impact
Assess the advantages and disadvantages. For example, you may think that criticism is a good motivator. That telling yourself you’re lazy galvanises you. Prove it.
Every time you tell yourself you’re lazy notice the effect it has on you. If you feel humiliated following a job interview, do you end up feeling better or worse having told yourself that you’re a fool?
Feelings such as shame, embarrassment and humiliation are all the territory of the inner critic. And a good indicator that it is at work.
5. Practice Compassion… Not Condemnation
Compassion is increasingly thought to be the most critical factor in living a happy and meaningful life. Practice compassion towards yourself and you will see the quality of your relationships with yourself and others transformed. Again, imagine how you would sooth a child or best friend in the same situation.
The trick is not to try and eradicate the critic, what we resist tends to persists. Instead focus on arguing back, rationalising, and being compassionate.
Image credit: Thor