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Your Inner Critic is a powerful voice battling to destroy your self-worth and dignity. Throughout your life, your Inner Critic surfaces many times. It appears when you have made a mistake and feel terrible about it. It doesn’t matter how low you are, Inner Critic will show up to join your pity party. Likewise, when you realize your dreams, there’s Inner Critic again, making you doubt yourself and your accomplishments.
How often have you seen something like an opportunity, a new job, an advertisement to run a marathon, or a course you’d love to take and felt a spike of excitement? But then did you immediately squelch your enthusiasm because you thought “I’m no good at that,” “I probably wouldn’t get it,” “but I’m not that sort of person?”
I had a conversation about this with a friend the other day. She recommended me for a position and I immediately had some self-doubt. My immediate thought was I wasn’t good enough. See, even I have to fight against negative thoughts. But, that’s the key. We had to immediately dismiss those thoughts and believe in ourselves.
The torture of negative self-talk can erode your confidence and leave you with a constant dark view of your qualities and capabilities. This self-view is not just bad for your self-image – it can build up an edifice of self-doubt that can stop you rising to challenges, making the most of your talents, or just having fun. And it’s just not true. You are amazing because there could never be another you!
If you only focus on your failures, you’re giving them an importance they don’t deserve. You’ll never give yourself the chance to be your best you. If you habitually “catastrophize,” you can be unconsciously working towards creating the worst happening.
You can choose to turn this around – try these three techniques to halt your Inner Critic in its tracks.
1. Notice Your Self–talk
What is it saying, what is it focused on? Whose voice can you hear? Our subconscious messages are often formed in early childhood – when your Inner Critic’s scripts are laid down. What information were you given then? Were you told you were untidy, careless, stupid, no good at math/spelling/reading? What was your label in the family?
2. Demand Evidence
Who says you’re no good at x? No one is perfect at everything – it’s ok to have weaknesses, it’s human. But they don’t have to define you. Write down all your skills. What are your talents? Are you an exceptional planner? Do people love your thoughtfulness or your cooking? Are you good at chairing meetings or giving presentations? Are you not good at creative writing but excellent at technical writing? Focus on the things you’re good at and if your weaknesses bother you, make a plan to strengthen them. But don’t let them define you.
3. Change the Record
Close your eyes and imagine your Inner Critic yapping away as usual. Now shrink him down to size and put your hand up to stop him from talking. Hand over the list of your skills, talents and positive traits, and tell him that this is the new script. His role now is to remind you of these. Exaggerations, focusing on the negative, and down-talking will no longer be tolerated and from this moment on, will be ignored!
So stop it! Just stop it! You have the power to control your inner voice. You have the power to speak positively over your life. And, regardless of what happens to you, you make the decision on how to respond.
How do you encourage yourself when that negative inner voice creeps up in your head?