Your inner critic- that little voice inside your head that tells you that you’re not good enough. We all have it, but for some it can be much more than a little voice; it can be overbearing, overwhelming, and paralyzing. We can become immobilized by the fear that someone somewhere will see through the facade and call us out as the impostor we fear we are. I know; I’ve been there (and sometimes still am there).
It can prevent us from living our lives in a manner that is fulfilling and meaningful. It causes us to take a backseat to those who appear more confident, more skilled, and better than we think we are.
It might prevent you from putting your name in for a promotion at work. It might keep you from asking out that special someone that you think about a lot. It can keep you from experiencing things that are new and exciting. It can make life boring.
So what do we do? How do we face our fear, overcome our doubts, and become the best version of ourselves that we can be?
I’ll tell you as soon as I figure it out. It is something that I struggle with to this day. At this very moment, I fear that someone reading this will call me up and tell me that I have no idea what I’m talking about, that I should not be a counselor and am more qualified to flip burgers than I am to lead others to fulfillment.
And yet, I push on. I confront my fears with the knowledge that I am great at what I do. I have the compassion, the knowledge, and the skills to truly help people. The truth is that I am a work in progress like everyone else. Sometimes I have to be my own counselor; sometimes I have to seek help from other professionals.
Yet, there are things that I have learned along the way to hush that voice in my head.
Know what the voice is really trying to say.
Know that the inner critic has a purpose. Believe it or not, it is trying to protect you from harm. It is likely that a past experience similar to what you are facing now did not have the ideal outcome. That voice in your head is your fear.
Full disclosure: I love the movie Inside Out. As they say in the movie, fear keeps us safe. Unfortunately when left unchecked, it can also prevent us from experiencing all that life has to offer.
Know that your thoughts do not always reflect reality.
You are not your thoughts. You are not defined by them. When you get down to it, they are mere electrical signals in your brain. Write the negative thoughts down using the second person voice. When you hear, “I am not good enough, and I will never succeed at anything.” Write “You are not good enough, and you will never succeed at anything.” Notice how you begin to realize how attacking this voice can be and how these statements are not true. Detach yourself from the thoughts to gain clarity.
Change the language of the thought.
Confront the inner critic directly. When you think, “I am such a loser and never do anything right,” write down all the times that you have been successful.
Replace the language with gentler, more realistic statements. “I may not succeed all the time, but I am smart and competent in many ways.” Have the same compassion for yourself that you would have for a dear friend.
Act in spite of your fear.
When your inner critic tells you you can’t, do it any way. Take actions that support your inner viewpoint and push you more toward your ideal and authentic self. Ask yourself how you would like to see yourself respond to this situation and do it.
To learn more about how to hush your inner critic and develop more self-compassion, contact me. I would love to help you overcome your fear and help you become your most authentic self.