Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Our inner critic is like a radio station we play over and over again in our mind and certain songs are on repeat. We can't seem to turn the channel, and the lyrics to those songs are often riddled with negative messages that amplify our fears and doubts. For those of us who struggle with perfectionism, our inner critic can be especially harsh.
The more our mind hears certain messages, the more likely we are to believe them and start to live by their principles, though seldom are they based in truth.
Imagine if your song has lyrics that repeat, I'm not worthy. I'm not a good parent. I don't belong in this job. Those types of lyrics are not uncommon and they create a lot stress and anxiety. Eventually we may start living our life in a manner that supports that narrative. If we believe we're not worthy, we may invite people into our world that aren't good for us. If we believe we don't belong in our job, we may perform poorly at work.
If we want to challenge our inner critic and play songs that send messages of support, we can start by taking note of the negative messages, confronting our fears, and calling our bluff.
Three Tips to Challenge Our Inner Critic:
1. Take Note of the Negative Messages:
First, we have to take note of the negative messages. Sometimes we say them so often that we don’t realize realize how detrimental they are to our emotional well-being. Once we start listening, we can write them down and take note of how many times we're repeating them throughout the day. This is to create awareness.
Then we can reframe- we can send a more compassionate, less judgmental message. Instead of, I never stick to an exercise program, think about what a friend would say and talk back to your inner critic with a more positive message... Once I find an exercise program I enjoy, I know it will become part of my routine.
We may think it’s silly, but positive self-talk is powerful and it can shift our mindset in a moment.
2. Confront Our Fears:
Second, we can confront our fears. The foundation of worry is fear, and fear will hold us back unless it's confronted. We can ask, What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? I might lose my job, but I’ll get another one. I might need to end my relationship, but I’ll find a healthier one when I’m ready. We take away fear’s power when we call its bluff. Yes, bad things do happen. We lose people we love. We suffer great setbacks. But as humans we are naturally resilient.
Our personal history is proof of how strong we are and how much we’ve overcome.
3. Call Our Own Bluff:
Third, we can call our own bluff. If we think we’re a bad mom, partner, spouse, or whatever our inner critic is telling us, we can “buy in” and decide it’s true. If our inner critic is right, and we are a bad mom, partner, spouse, the real question is... Now What? What do I need to say or do; how do I need to act to be a better mom, spouse, or partner?
We shift the focus from our perceived flaws to how we can improve and move forward.
Today, challenge your "Inner Critic." Remember that we don't have to keep playing the same station.
Wishing you the best in health, inside and out~