Your inner critic can be you the worst enemy or your best friend. It’s important to make friends with your inner critic and even to extend it some unconditional love if you are determined to live a peaceful life. Unconditional love is not just for others – it’s for your personal self as well.
How do we hear what our inner critic is saying? It’s what many people call “self talk”. The way we talk to ourselves depends on a lot of things, it may be related to the way others have talked to us in the past, or it may just be out own attitude. We need to practice compassion with ourselves, just like we would expect to practice it with or loved ones.
Our inner critic can be very useful in our personal growth. It can be a source of correction, with objective criticism to help us get better. Beware though that if the criticism is overly harsh, or it goes past being constructive, it can discourage you from trying to do your best, and suck the joy right out of your life.
Learn to get the best from your inner critic. Here are a few techniques to help you develop a peaceful relationship.
Making Friends with Your Inner Critic
Our inner critic is really just looking out for us. It wants to protect us, and keep us from making dangerous decisions. If you keep that reasoning in mind, it takes on a fresh new perspective. You can train your inner critic and help it learn how to work with you in a positive way with these simple tips.
Listen to understand
You may be so used to listening to all the negative self talk that you hardly think about what your inner critic is really saying. Start changing your relationship by listening carefully to understand what it wants to tell you. Don’t just turn it off, or tune it out – recognize it is only looking out for what it thinks you need.
Identify the voice
What’s your first memory of your inner critic? Does it sound like a particular person from your past? There may be family issues or other matters that you need to heal before you can move on. Work on healing and once you have made peace, then release that voice, find you own voice, and begin to listen and learn.
Be ready to work
Do you think you are bad at something because you could never do it as a kid, or in school, or on the job? Maybe your inner voice tells you you can’t, but in reality maybe you just never learned how to do it right. Tell your inner critic that you are no longer limited by your past. Say to it that you now can learn, and then take a moment to realize you can become whatever you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work to get there.
Maybe that inner critic is trying to get you off your duff and on to bigger things. Have you settled for something easy when you are capable of doing things that are hard? Think about why you are here – what is the reason you were created in this space and time? Then ask yourself if you are living up to your purpose?
Learn to enjoy meditation. It’s important to practice stillness every day – even if it is just for a few minutes. Many people find that the consistent practice of meditation helps them let go of judgments and connect with their inner goodness. You can quiet the negative self talk, and quiet the mind at the same time. You may be surprised at some of the things you learn while sitting in meditation.
Silence Your Inner Critic
Admit that there are times when you just need a break. If your self-talk is making you anxious and depressed, you can find relief by turning it off for – but, remember, just temporarily – until you are ready to work on flipping it from negative to positive.
Shift your attention elsewhere. Take a walk or read a book. Spend some time doing anything that you enjoy. Find whatever healthy, good for you things that will take your mind off of what is going on right at the moment and lift your spirits is always a good strategy.
This is an unusual approach, but one many find extremely helpful. Depersonalize the situation and add some humor by imagining that your inner critic is speaking to someone else instead of you. Take any statement and replace the personal pronouns with a funny name. Picture it in your mind, find amusement in your image.
Give yourself advance warning. Figure out the situations where your inner critic is likely to appear. You may be sensitive about first dates or criticism from your boss. Once you know what sets you off, you can be proactive and plan for the situation.
List your strengths
If you’re ready to stop your self talk that keeps you hearing about your weaknesses, remember your strengths. Make a list of the things you’re good at from baking bread to writing code. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular – maybe you are good at relating to animals, or maybe you find the perfect parking place every time. So how many pages you can fill with your strengths and goodness.
Your house won’t be condemned because you were too busy to vacuum for a few days. Keep things in perspective by ensuring that your self-talk is accurate. If you say to yourself, “I’m going to die if I have to endure this one more time,” flip it around to say, “this isn’t my favorite but I can put up with it for a little while longer.”
Repeating positive affirmations can give you a boost when you’re feeling down. Check out the Sunday Serenities posts on this site for new affirmations every week.
Remember your worth
Being tough on yourself tears down your self-esteem. Build it back up by telling yourself that you deserve to be happy and successful. You are worthy – our Creator doesn’t make junk.
While you need to value yourself, it helps to have others in your corner too. Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel positive about yourself and your opportunities. In exchange, be sure to lift up others as well.
Take control of your self-talk and your future. Treat yourself with compassion and keep striving to reach your full potential. Soon you will realize that inner critic is a friend, not a foe.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.