In this week's vlog I talk about 3 tips for working with your inner critic. So, if you have a strong inner critic that leaves you feeling down or demotivated, try these simple tips to ease the critic’s grip so you can get back to feeling confident and capable again.
Everyone has an inner critic. You know the one, the little one that sits on your shoulder, and instead of whispering sweet nothings into your ear, shouts all kinds of nasty, terrible stuff that you may or may not catch right off the bat. But I'd be willing to bet that if you started to pay attention, you would notice what a lot of people often notice when they start to watch the inner workings of their mind... and that is that we are a lot crueler to ourselves than we typically are to other people. Below are some tips for what to do when you start to notice that that inner critic is being particularly brutal.
What the Critic Sounds Like
Let me give you an example. Let's say you have a project at work that your boss has asked you to work on, to come up with a couple of sketches for a website that you're designing. You pull together a couple of ideas and you present them in a meeting, but the stakeholders don't like any of them. For whatever reason, they just don't go over well. So you skulk back to your desk, and sit there, and you start to get down on yourself. Right? You tell yourself that they were stupid designs, that you're a bad designer, that you shouldn't have tried this, you shouldn't have taken this job to begin with, that your boss is going to be disappointed, that you're going to get fired, whatever it is. The little gremlin on your shoulder shouts all kinds of terrible stories at you, and believe me, that's all that they are is just stories. Most of them probably aren't even close to true.
Our Critic is Trying to Protect Us
It might not seem like it at the time, but in some strange way, our critic is trying to protect us. It might be trying to prepare us for what someone else might say so that we already know what it is and can be prepared to rebut their criticism. Or it might be trying to motivate us so that we try harder the next time. The only problem with this is that this strategy doesn't work.
3 Tips for Taming Your Inner Critic
Here are some tips to help you soften the critic's message when it is being particularly harsh.
Notice the critic's stories
I want you to write down all of those different stories that your inner critic tells you. When you read them back to yourself, tell me, do you feel motivated? I'm guessing that you probably don't. You probably feel very demotivated, rather defeated, and just kind of all around terrible. The first step is noticing the stories our critic is feeding us.
Speak to yourself as kindly as you would a dear friend or loved one
What I want you to do after you've written down all of these stories is ask yourself a couple of things. First, would you ever say any of these things to a dear friend or a loved one? My guess is probably not. So why are you saying them to yourself? We need to learn to be as good a friend to ourself as we are to anyone else.
Speak to a younger version of yourself
Secondly, what you can try is find a picture of your younger self and take a look at that picture. Would you ever say any of these things to that younger version of yourself? Again, my guess is probably not, so why are you saying them to this older version of yourself?
The Damage the Critic Inflicts
Now, what this does, all these stories that our inner critic tells us, is they beat us down. We start to feel like we can't do anything. We start to feel not good enough. We feel all kinds of things. What that does is it adds a whole bunch of extra water to our sink that doesn't need to be there.
Last week, I talked about throwing darts at ourselves. This is in a similar vein to that. If you don't know what I'm talking about with this emotional sink and darts and all of that, check out the free guide below, because I talk a lot in there about how to maintain balance in your emotional sink so that the water level doesn't rise and get to a point where it overflows.
The strategies above are some simple tricks that you can use to remove a whole bunch of water that doesn't need to be filling up your emotional sink. We can't control external circumstances very much, but we can control the stories that we tell ourselves about those external circumstances. And that can make a HUGE difference in whether we brush off the little bumps in the road and keep moving or whether we spiral down a hole of self-loathing and get stuck feeling like we can't do anything right.
For more information on how the way we talk to ourselves affects our health and what to do about it, check out the Depression Treatment page.
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HELP WITH LETTING GO OF DIFFICULT THOUGHTS
If you notice that your inner critic is leaving you feeling down and demotivated, check out the mindfulness tips in this free guide to help you catch the stories and let them go so you can stop spinning out and get back to being awesome!