We all have an unhelpful voice inside our head which pipes up from time to time to tell us about all the things we are doing wrong or ways that we are not as good as someone else. This on its own may be of some comfort – just knowing that the person you look up to has their own inner critic being the loudest voice in their head, from time to time. How we handle this voice makes a big difference. If we focus on it more than any other, it can lead us to spiralling, experiencing poor mental and physical health, increasing levels of anxiety, and self-sabotaging behaviour.
There’s no definitive way to change this for everyone. Just the same as our taste buds don’t all react in the same way to Marmite – and some people will love it, some will hate it – the best way to tackle your inner critic may bring someone else down further. It is a case of try, practice and give yourself time.
Here are some ways in which you can lower the volume on that inner critic, and even reduce the amount that you hear from it.
Practicing positive affirmations
Something that we encourage in our Butterfly Project is the practice of positive affirmations. By choosing phrases which apply to your life and circumstances and focus on your values and strengths and repeating them to yourself every day, you can build up a positive armour which will help to knock that inner critic down when it pops up. The act of sharing meaningful phrases with yourself every day can also help to promote a belief in yourself and your goals and dreams, keep you focused and push you forwards.
Talk to yourself in the second person
When things aren’t going as you’d like and you’re not reacting as well as you could, it can be helpful to distance yourself and talk to yourself in the second person – so says experimental psychologist and neuroscientist, Ethan Cross. Saying “Calm down, Sarah, it will be ok” can help you to reframe situations and help you to keep calm. It may instantly feel like you have someone on your side, as you are encouraging yourself to take on a situation which may at first feel impossible, but move to being a challenge you can get through.
Get it out of your system
Journaling is a way to record your thoughts and feelings. It’s become really popular in recent years, as a great opportunity to record your emotions, offload your thoughts and reflect on situations.
Reflection is an important skill which can help you to understand why you are feeling a certain way.
Journaling can give you space and time to understand your emotions, release stress and explore your thoughts, while offering clarity. It can also enable you to focus on the positives through seeing your gifts and dreams written down and offer a sense of perspective – when you look back you may see that you were experiencing something you felt was overwhelming not so long ago, but in a few pages, you had got through it.
You may find that a combination of these work well for you, or that you prefer some techniques more than others. Everyone is different and we are all going to react differently but the more tools that you have available, the better equipped you will be to take on that inner critic when it arrives.
If you would like more information on how to silence your inner critic, please get in touch.