How to Silence Your Inner Critic
Did you know you are your own worst enemy? Well, apparently it’s true! We’ve all heard it before. From friends, family, lovers, counselors, and hell probably every motivational speaker you have ever listened to! As tired as I am of hearing the old cliche, the truth in it is undeniable. So I decided to learn how to silence the inner critic!
Hello! I AM my own worst enemy! No one beats me up, tears me down, or subjects me to more abuse than myself. If we are being honest, and yes boys and girls we always are, it’s downright violent. WHY am I doing this to myself? There is no growth in this kind of self-hatred, therefore, there is no room to change!
You wouldn’t talk to a friend that way
I’ve been called names by cruel kids back in school, I’ve been made to feel less than worthy by lovers or people I called friends as my adult life marched on. Yet not a single one of those painful memories or experiences can even come close to the damage I do to myself. Nor can the countless compliments from loved ones come close to negating the self-damage. In fact, the kind, uplifting words that probably have more truth in them than I can see, get completely ignored.
Most of the time, I don’t even recognize that what I’m saying to myself is actually emotional abuse. That inner critic that likes to tell me how worthless, stupid, and ugly I am has been in my head so long that somewhere along the line it just became standard. Conveniently forgetting the fact that if I ever heard anyone talk the way I do to myself, to a friend or loved one I would shut that down in a heartbeat!
You would never talk to a friend or a loved one using the same language that you use on yourself. Yet we constantly speak to our innerselves in this same abusive tone
Our Worst Fears Create the Harshest of Inner Critics
Many times, people who struggle with eating disorders, anxiety, or depression can tend to create a very harsh inner critic. That dark, nagging voice seems to always be there to “help” in our worst of times. Mostly, I believe, this happens as a result of how bad we feel. You know, how out of control or alone we perceive ourselves to be in those moments of weakness. It’s easy for that voice inside of us to take charge and use those moments to run amok wreaking as much havoc as it can.
Another big trigger, at least with my inner critic, is when I feel the need to preemptively judge myself. I might be in a situation where I’m feeling vulnerable or afraid someone is about to criticize me. Instead of being able to handle this in a healthy manner, the inner monologue starts. Bringing on a litany of abusive comments flitting through my brain. It’s a kind of “beat them to the punch” moment. If I think it first, then it won’t hurt when they say it. Of course the judgment I’m so afraid of rarely ever comes, if it even existed in the first place.
Silence the Inner Critic Using Active Awareness and kindness
I don’t think we can ever completely silence that inner little monster inside of us, but we can learn to tone it down a bit. Maybe take back some of the power it holds over us. Though just like with anything else in life though, it takes work. It takes practicing things like awareness and self-compassion. I don’t know about you, but self-compassion sounds like a foreign language to me! That being said, please don’t feel hopeless, or that you are alone because trust me friend you are anything but alone in this! Let’s take a look at some steps I’m doing to tame that little jerk in my brain!
First, I’m working on becoming actively aware of when I’m being a jerk to myself. This takes practice! Many times I’m halfway through a verbal beat down of how ugly, fat, terrible or stupid I am before I catch myself and do a forced stop. Sometimes it takes telling myself “Enough! Stop it! You are not all of those things”, to break the script! Being mindful of what you are saying to yourself takes practice but the more you do it the more natural it becomes. Baby steps are small, but you cannot learn to walk without taking those first few stumbling steps.
Which brings me to the next step, being kind to myself. When I mess up, make a mistake, or experience a traumatic or emotional event in my life the first thing I do is blame myself. It’s my fault that I didn’t prepare for this, or that tragic thing that I had no control over happened.
This is a hard step for me because I have been doing this since I was a child. If something went wrong it was because I, and I alone, failed. How I try to help myself with this step is to remind myself that I’m not alone in this universe, nor am I unique in making this mistake or experiencing this event. I wouldn’t talk to another person going through this in such a harsh and abusive manner so it’s not acceptable to talk to myself in such a way either. I gently remind myself that growth takes failure and setbacks. This is an opportunity for growth.
I also talk to myself with kindness. In the moments when I become aware of the harshness I’m applying to myself, I actively change the words in my head. Apologizing and reminding myself that I may not be where I want to be, but that I AM working on changing the things I don’t like. Sometimes asking myself what it is that is really bothering me. It’s in these acts of mental kindness that I feel a healing balm has been applied to the broken and bruised parts of my heart.
…The Wrap Up
To sum it up, rerouting your neural pathways from self-destruction to self-compassion isn’t easy. When learning how to silence the inner critic it takes practice and consistency before it feels normal. If you are trying to be more aware of how you speak to yourself and using these steps to cultivate that compassion, please remember to not beat yourself up. It feels awkward and hard at first. It won’t happen overnight or without constant work, but it WILL happen. Remember the slip-ups and setbacks will come. Just know you CAN overcome it! Have patience and be gentle with yourself, and remember, you are NOT alone!
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