“You should be more successful”
“You should be a better parent”
“You shouldn’t have bothered to try”
“You are failing like you always do”
"You are not smart/pretty/thin/stylish/organized/calm/fabulous enough"
If these are some of the thoughts that run through your head on a regular basis, I have some bad news to share with you;
You have an inner critic.
An inner critic who is kind of a jerk, has taken up residence in your head and does not pay rent.
In addition to being a lousy tenant, your inner critic can have a huge impact on your life. It may lead to:
- fear of trying new things
- feeling easily frustrated when things aren't working
- believing that making mistakes = failures
- fear of being “found out” as an impostor
- inability to enjoy the present moment because you're stuck in your head with your critic
- feeling like you have a “fatal flaw”
- trying to “prove yourself” - overextending self, saying yes to things you don’t want to do
One of the most frustrating things about the inner critic is that you feel that you will never measure up to the arbitrary rules that the inner critic creates (I'm pretty sure that the inner critic spends way too much time on Pinterest) creating a sense of constant failure.
So how do you shush the inner critic?
- become aware of your inner critic. We cannot change what we do not notice. It may suck to listen to the non-stop negative chatter, but it's gotta be done!
- notice what happens when you have the critical thoughts; how do you react? how do you feel? do you try to argue with the critic or accept the criticism as fact?
- understand that the inner critic is NOT YOU. It is a voice that has been developed over the years based on thousands of messages from various sources (eg. your family of origin, teachers, friends, romantic partners, society)
- begin to make room for a more compassionate voice, your inner cheerleader
- when the inner critic starts to chatter, tell it to shush, and replace it with kinder thoughts (this is going to be super hard to to at first!)
Here are some examples of kinder thought:
- “It was my first time trying, of course I didn’t know how to do it.”
- “It is understandable that I’m nervous before my first day at a new job.”
- “I’m okay with the fact that I’m a terrible cook.”
It will likely feel weird at first to be so nice to yourself! It will also take a lot of practice and slipping back into inner critic mode will happen.
Be patient with yourself.
Be kind to yourself.
Tell the inner critic that its getting a new roommate.