On this week’s blog, we share a guest post personal development enthusiast and blogger, Luke! Enjoy :-)
Am I the only one who hears a voice inside my head? Okay, it’s not an audible voice. It’s not the kind of voice that I need to see a doctor about. It’s the kind of voice that comes from my conscience. The kind that tells me when I need to be aware and careful. The kind that speaks to me about what I am doing, what I should be doing and what I have done.
It’s my inner voice.
Although at times this inner voice can be helpful and effective, it can also morph into a voice that has the power to hold me back. Sometimes, when left unchecked, my inner voice has a tendency to turn into an inner critic. And while the original intention of my inner voice may be good—to protect me or keep me from embarrassing myself—giving too much credence to the inner critic can make me feel ashamed, criticized, undermined, and even paralyzed.
So my advice? Fight back!
The good news is that you and I can both work to silence the voice of the inner critic and change the way we look at the world. The reason that the voice of the inner critic becomes so loud is that we allow it to be that way. When we do the work of fighting against the inner critic with affirming truths and positive reinforcement, we can make the voice of our inner healer ring much more loudly!
When you choose to retrain your voice, creating new pathways in your mind, you can experience benefits in many aspects of your life, including:
• Strengthened relationships
• Success in your career
• Healthy personal development
• Greater self-esteem and less anxiety
• Actively achieving personal goals
So here are 8 ways to battle your inner critic:
Instead of just lying down and listening to what your inner critic says, you have the power to choose not to listen. And to replace that voice with a stronger one—your inner encourager and healer.
Here are some of the tools and resources you can use to actively battle against your inner critic:
Stop to Breathe
Fighting against your inner critic means learning to silence that voice so that you can listen to a positive one instead. One way to begin this is by stopping whatever is going on in your mind and focusing on your breathing. Just for a moment, turn off that inner dialogue and simply pay attention to the sounds and sensations when you breathe. It only takes a few seconds of concentration to re-route your thoughts onto an alternative path.
Find your source of inner strength by reflecting on yourself. Understanding what your core values are and getting to know your true identity will give you the resources you need to give credence to the positive voices.
You can do this by thinking about the things you have done in the past that you consider to have been a success. Ponder these successes. Don’t just think about the fact that you “won”, but consider what it was inside of you that caused you to be able to succeed. Was it grit? Tenacity? Humor? Kindness? Reliability? Take note of these qualities about yourself.
Make a List of What’s Great About You
In fact, while you’re at it, go ahead and make a list of the good qualities about yourself. If you have a hard time seeing these, you can engage the help of a friend or family member who loves you and sees the good in you.
Items on your list of positive qualities can range from small to large. For instance, if you like your smile then put that on your list. If you are generous with what you have, put that on your list also. And if you’ve overcome adversity in your life, then don’t forget about that as well! Consider all of the things that you like, that you’re good at, or that make you valuable and write them down.
Arm Yourself with Truth
When your inner critic begins to whisper (or shout!) negative messages at you, you’ll need to be armed for the battle. The best weapon against negative shaming is counteracting it with words of truth.
You need to begin telling yourself a different story. You’ll engage in the process of retraining your brain to believe the positive truths about yourself instead of constantly listening to the negative influences can change everything for you.
Because this is almost impossible to do on-the-fly, you’ll have to do your homework ahead of time. Arm yourself for the battle by memorizing some positive truths of your own. This is where that list you made above becomes useful. Write notes and messages to yourself about how great you are and scatter them about your life. Write them on your calendar, post them on your mirror or coffee pot with sticky notes, or put them on the sunshade of your car. Whatever places you will see them, put these positive messages in your life.
Now, when your inner critic starts talking, you can answer with positive aspects that you know to be true about yourself.
Most people have a lot of grace for others—encouraging them when they struggle or helping to pick them back up when they fall. But the grace we have for others often does not extend to ourselves. That’s because we are too busy listening to the inner critic!
Deciding that you are going to put a high value on grace in your life will mean that you can forgive yourself for your mistakes. Remember that you are human and, even when you mess up, there’s always something to learn from your mistakes.
Your inner strength is probably in greater supply than you think, but sometimes you may need someone else to help you remember this. A friend can help to remind you of the positive truths about yourself and give you the encouragement to move forward. Just make sure the person you choose to listen to is supportive of your personal goals and not a critical influence as well.
As you focus on aiming in the direction of your dreams, you’ll find that your energy is channeled into accomplishing your goals. This leaves less time for you to sit around and listen to the degrading talk of your inner critic. Simply by taking one step at a time and succeeding in even the smallest of goals, you’ll be able to focus on the successes instead of failures. You’ll be able to silence that inner critic simply by doing something positive and moving forward instead of simply sitting still.
Do What You Love!
Consider some things that you love doing and that you know will be good for your soul. Then make a plan to do them! Doing the things you love releases endorphins in your brain and body that work to reduce stress and positively impact not only your mental health by your physical health as well.
Doing what you love will feed your soul and nurture your inner self. If you love singing, then find an open mic night in your area to get connected with. Even if you never end up performing on Broadway, you can do what you love and be proud of yourself for it. If it means taking a risk, you don’t have to be afraid because if your inner critic speaks out, you can silence that voice by telling yourself how brave you are!
Retraining your inner critic to turn into an inner encourager may take some time. So don’t get discouraged! When you struggle, just begin by breathing deeply, having grace for yourself, reflecting on things that are great about you, and moving forward with doing the things that you love. You’ll soon find that the happy, healthy, positive human staring back in the mirror is a new you!
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