This week, I ran another poll and discovered many of my readers were interested in the topic of silencing the internal critic, and it made me take a look at myself and how I can often be my own worse critic too. You see, it's not weird or abnormal to be negative or feel negativity for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes the stress of life, careers, school, or family can cause emotional and mental negativity to consume almost every waking aspect of your life. Although it may feel as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel, believe me, it's there.
So, what is an internal critic and how can we keep this pesky negativity at bay to prevent a situation from going bad to worse? Well, imagine you have a friend who can be really critical. She lets you know when you’ve put on a few extra pounds. She makes you lose self-confidence right before an important presentation or exam. She points out your flaws and insecurities, often reminding you when you’re not matching up as well as others might be at this time in your life. If you had a friend like that, you’d kick her to the curb, right?! No one needs that negativity in their life! So, if we wouldn’t accept this criticism from our friends, why do we take it from ourselves?
We often let ourselves get away with a surprising amount of negative self-talk on a daily or weekly basis. Sometimes it happens so often that it becomes background noise, but this kind of criticism can be severely damaging to your self-confidence and self-worth. So what can you do to silence your inner critic? Here are five insightful tips:
1. Actually, listen to the negativity
Although this might sound counterproductive at first, taking the time to actually listen to the negativity consuming your mind allows you to apply a concept known as self-reflection. The only way to actually silence the internal critic is by actually being aware of it and not allowing it to feed into your thoughts and prevent you from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Most of the time, our negative feelings stem from insecurities we might have, uncertainties we might be feeling about the future or the unsteadiness we might be experiencing in our current positions in life. Actively listening to our negative self-talk will let us know that our criticisms are pretty ridiculous and underserved, and you'll begin to stick up for yourself more without even realizing it.
2. Stop procrastinating!
Although most of our negative thoughts are unrealistic and unwarranted, some of that criticism comes from an unconscious issue we need to address consciously. If there is a part of your life you'd like to change, make the change. Don't give yourself more ammo to shoot yourself down later. There's nothing worse than a nagging voice in your head reminding you of all the things you still have to get done. Being annoying and nasty to yourself is never a good idea, and it can certainly put a damper on your mood and your motivation to get productive. Instead, take the steps required to get things done by setting goals and tracking your progress. Although you won't see drastic changes right away, your persistence and slow improvement will replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, thus bringing an end to the inner critic.
3. Reframe your view of others
Negative self-talk can be toxic to your soul and the relationships you foster with others. If you allow yourself to be critical and judgemental of yourself, you're more like to place the very same critical and judgemental attitude towards the important people in your life. Admit it...we've all been there. Instead of badgering someone, being condescending, or being plain rude to someone who doesn't understand why, just take a step back, and stay away from rash judgements that will only feed into the negativity. Not only will this damage the relationships you've taken so much time and effort to cultivate, but it'll also damage your overall happiness as well.
4. Ask yourself this question...
Are you reading this and wondering if you've been overly critical of yourself lately? Therapists often tell their clients to ask this one question of themselves: would you say these things to your five-year-old self? In other words, would you tell your five-year-old self that they weren't smart enough, untalented, overweight, or unsuccessful? I would sure hope not! Instead, you'd tell them to be confident, work hard, believe in yourself, be strong! So, if you wouldn't dare be so negative to a little version of you, why are you being so negative to the slightly older version of you? Self-confidence begins from the inside out. It is fragile and delicate at any age, and we need to be sure that we're taking good care of ourselves and supporting our personal journies.
5. Remember how amazing you are!
Although all these tips are beneficial and you'll hopefully find them helpful, always remember that the best way to silence your inner critic and drown out the negativity is by simply remembering all the things that make us amazing. It doesn't have to be sappy or weird, but giving yourself a little pep talk, treating yourself to a little treat here and there, can really get rid of the negative thoughts and give you some much-needed edge. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder that we're capable people who can take on anything life throws at us!
I hope this has helped you take on a new perspective on yourself, if not right at this moment, but maybe later on down the road. It's okay not to be okay 100% of the time, but it's also even more okay to be at least 99% okay! The more positivity we throw out into the world, the more positivity we'll get back.