Let’s do a little experiment. I’m gonna make a statement and you just observe your reaction to it. Note the thoughts and feelings that come up. See what the voice in your head says.
Ready? Here it comes: You are perfectly okay just as you are in this moment.
How does that feel? Chances are, you have some objections. Something like: “No, I’m not!”, “Yes, but…”, “I would be, if…”, or “You don’t even know me!”.
That’s your inner critic, the mean voice in your head, the judging committee that sits up there to point out every single thing that’s ‘wrong’. Now what if I told you there’s nothing wrong at all? Neither with you nor with anyone else.
Probably the inner critic would jump right back in and come up with a whole list of things or people that are actually wrong. Fair enough. Maybe that’s true. But maybe — and I encourage you to open up and consider this for a moment — it’s not. Maybe at least some of the judgments you — consciously or subconsciously — place on yourself and others are not ultimately true. And maybe you can let some of them go and replace them with acceptance, compassion and love.
Here are 5 practical tools you can start using today to transform your negative self talk:
1. Notice what your inner critic says.
Make a list of all the negative statements you internally make about yourself. Writing them down helps to get them out of your subconsciousness and bring them into the light of your awarness. Only then can the transformation start.
2. Ask yourself: Would I say what I think about myself to someone I love?
Observe the thoughts you have about yourself. Are they kind? Are they loving? Are they supportive? Do they build you up? Do they serve you? Would you say this to someone you deeply care about?
3. First accept, then change.
It might be a bit shocking to first notice all the mean sh*t we say to ourselves in our heads. It is important to avoid judging ourselves for that, too. It’s okay if you are critical of yourself. Most of us are. We are thaught to be. Accept that this is the case while knowing it doesn’t have to be.
4. Give your inner critic a name.
The part of you that judges, criticizes and belittles you is not who you truly are. Giving it a name helps to create some distance and the possibility to disagree with it.
For instance: Let’s say my inner critic is called Susie. Now every time a negative thought pops up (e.g. “I shouldn’t have eaten that!”), I transform it to a statement made by Susie (“Susie says I shouldn’t have eaten that.”) Then I can choose my response (e.g. “Thanks, Susie, but I chose to eat it and it was good!”). This way, I no longer identify with my inner critic and take my power back.
5. Replace negative statements with positive ones.
Every time you catch yourself (or Susie ;)) criticizing you, pause and think of one positive thing you could say about yourself. To stick with the example from above: “I shouldn’t have eaten that!” might be turned into “I am free to choose how I want to nourish my body at any given moment”.
Know that as most things in life, this is a continuous practice. Some days will be easier than others and some limiting beliefs will be transformed more effortlessly than others. That’s all part of the process. All that counts is that you keep going and start again whenever you feel like you’ve fallen off track. You got this!
Which strategies do you use to deal with your inner critic? I’d love to read about them in a personal message from you.