How would you rate your self-talk? Do you tell yourself how amazing you are or do you condemn and criticize yourself constantly? Chances are, you berate yourself frequently and you may not realize that your negative self-talk actually affects how you show up in the world and it takes a toll on your confidence, self-esteem, and relationships.
Everyone has an inner critic. An inner critic is the voice inside of us that lies and says things like “it’s not okay to make mistakes, you must be perfect, you are not good enough, smart enough, successful enough,” and the like. These lies become self-defeating stories that we retell ourselves over and over, which lead to self-sabotaging patterns. Left unchecked, our inner critic not only prevents us from achieving goals and experiencing meaningful connection in our relationships but they also rob us of the opportunity to show up authentically in our lives.
So what can we do? Being aware of your inner critic is the first step towards lessening its power. Once you realize that your inner critic exists, give it an identity. Name it – and then, if you’d like, make it even more real by drawing it, sculpting it, or seeing it in your mind – whatever works for you. In doing this, you discover that the inner critic is only a part of who you are, not your whole identity. By seeing it in objective terms, some of its strength diminishes. Once you have named your inner critic, you can begin a daily practice of taming your inner critic by cultivating self-compassion.
I named my inner critic “Missy the mean girl” because she believes it’s unacceptable to make mistakes. She’s the voice that tells me I am not smart enough or good enough. She’s asks sassy and rude questions when I take risks like, “who do you think you are starting a business?” She relentlessly judges and criticizes me. She is wrapped up in achievement, progress, accomplishments, making a difference, and keeping track of how much, how often and in what ways I am contributing to those around me.
Through self-compassion, I’ve made friends with the girl inside my head. As it turns out she wasn’t mean, she was just scared and she was trying to protect me from being hurt. By cultivating self-compassion, I use kindness, curiosity, and understanding to approach her when she is on a rant. This might sound woo-woo but it works. It’s a practice and I strive for progress not perfection.
What does your inner critic say to you? How could you benefit for cultivating a practice of lovingkindness? What would you be able to experience, achieve, or accomplish once you are free from the doubt your inner critic casts?
For more information about how personal development coaching can help tame your inner critic visit my website www.michelewaterman.com.
For more information and guidance about self-compassion visit Dr. Kristin Neff’s website www.self-compassion.org, which is replete with resources including exercises, meditations, and more.