We all have an inner critic. That annoying, negative inner voice that judges, criticizes, and shames us for how we look, how we feel, what we think and what we do. It beats us up over our tiniest faults and our biggest mistakes. It may say things like, “You’re stupid,” “You’re going to fail,” “Who do you think you are?” “You’ll never… (lose that weight, get that job, find a soul mate).”
Though it may not feel like it, our inner critic doesn’t always mean to be malicious. Sometimes it’s just simply trying to help us avoid the pain of rejection, humiliation and isolation. The irony is, when we accept these negative messages it creates the very pain it’s trying to help us avoid.
Here’s a sample of the impact our negative inner critic has on our behavior. It contributes to our:
Listening to the message of our inner critic can leave us feeling incompetent, unfulfilled, and worthless.
Why So Critical?
Many of us were brought up believing that criticism, judgment and shame were effective ways to motivate our behavior. The rationale being, if we behave in a ‘negative’ way, criticism will encourage us to change and behave in ‘acceptable’ ways. We’ve internalized those messages and the inner critic became the messenger.
Our inner critic does not speak truth. It lies to maintain status quo. The even better news is that this voice is the result of learned behavior, which means it can also be unlearned.
If you struggle with negative inner dialog that is holding you back, try these tips for breaking free from the voice that holds you back and keeps you playing small:
We all give in to our inner critic from time to time. And that’s okay. A little self-criticism can be a helpful thing. It encourages self-improvement and growth, but there’s a big difference between saying, “The career I chose is boring,” and “I’m a loser for majoring in 15th Century flute making.”
The next time you’re facing off with your inner critic remember it’s not concerned with your peace of mind, happiness or personal growth. It’s focused on making sure you don’t get booted from your tribe and, by keeping these strategies in mind, it can be comforting to know that you are ultimately the one in control.
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