Have You Had Enough Of Your Inner Critic Yet? (3 Things You’ll Want To Start Today!)
We’ve all got one – that critic on your shoulder who makes sure you know exactly how rubbish you are in life, just when you most need to find your cheerleader-in-a-closet. And we do everything we can to eliminate that inner loudspeaker of negative self talk. But what if there were a way to sort your inner critic, once and for all? And what if you could get started – and make a noticeable difference – in the next five minutes?
The way we talk to ourselves can be classed as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the idea of ‘positive and negative self talk’. I prefer to think of it as self talk that makes you feel good and empowers you, vs self talk that makes you feel bad and disempowers you.
Why do I make the distinction?
- Calling your self talk ‘negative’ implies it is ‘wrong’ and that you are judging it. Surely it’s bad enough to have that self talk running, without beating yourself up over it?
- As Carl Jung said: “What you resist persists.” So if you get fixated about eliminating negative self talk, getting rid of it or stopping it, guess what? You’re giving it more of your attention and it gets even more power over you.
But the bottom line is that most of us run self talk patterns that can leave us feeling yucky. And there seems to be nowhere to hide. We all know the kind of thing:
- I’m rubbish at that…
- I’m never invited…
- I’ll look terrible in those jeans…
- I don’t have enough willpower…
- I’m stupid…
- It never goes right for me…
What do all of these self talk statements have in common?
They’re all what I call ‘I am…’ statements (even when they don’t start with ‘I am!’) – meaning they are beliefs we are holding at a very deep level; beliefs about who we are; about what we can achieve in life; about where our limits are.
The dangers of negative self talk
Self talk that makes us feel bad and limits our ability to live as the amazing being we really are is probably the biggest challenge we face. It stops us from taking action. It creates and feeds our excuses. It nourishes our fears. It sabotages our success.
Yet most of us aren’t even consciously aware of what our self talk tone – or that we can change it.
So when I stumbled across an article by a self-proclaimed life-change expert this morning, where she promised to share what she calls her #1 tip for putting an end to negative self-talk, I got excited about what she had to say.
I love sharing great resources with you guys, wherever they come from, so I read with enthusiasm… until I saw her #1 tip. Then I realised it was yet another example of someone regurgitating ‘coaching training speak’, without having really understood how people tick… in ways that can make things even worse.
Her advice was that, whenever you catch yourself saying something unkind or negative to yourself, you should turn round and announce that:
“I love you and I believe in YOU!”
What do you reckon?
How would that fit for you?
Is that something you’re in a position to say, with congruence?
If yes, fantastic! But here’s the thing: if you can say that phrase to yourself – and mean it – then you probably don’t have much of an issue with self-talk these days. Wonderful news! 🙂
If you say that phrase to yourself and you don’t really mean it, what do you think might happen?
Yup – we end up beating ourselves up (yet more negative self-talk) over yet another thing that we’re rubbish at:
“I can’t even say that silly affirmation and mean it.”
“I am a bad person / rubbish at everything / fill in the blank… “:-(
Now, I’m not dissing positive affirmations. They can play an incredible role in changing your life. And I use them in many of my online courses.
But there is a problem with positive affirmations:
There’s no point saying them unless you can feel them!
I’ve gotta feel it? Just reciting that positive affirmation isn’t enough?
If you don’t feel it, then you don’t believe it. And it ain’t gonna work. In fact, it’ll make things worse.
Here’s how it happens:
You can’t change a belief just by telling it that it’s wrong.
Imagine the scenario:
How would you react if you believed something and someone came up to you and told you, flat out, that you’re wrong?
No evidence. No discussion. No explanation. Just telling you, over and over again, every time you see them, that you’re wrong and they’re right.
Do you think you’d open your heart and mind to hearing their point of view, or do you think you might just dig your heels in and defend your position even more strongly than usual?
For most of us it’s the heel-digging-in option.
Why would your Monkey Mind be any different?
When it runs a belief – limiting or otherwise – it spends days, months or even years collecting evidence to support that belief. It filters out anything that would contradict it, collating a library of events to justify its position.
Can you really overcome that with a fluffy affirmation?
Well, on a low importance belief that’s fairly new, perhaps.
On a long-held, firmly entrenched belief?
You’re more likely to provoke your unconscious mind into full-scale belief-defending warfare. A major case of inner conflict.
Your body holds the answers.
How can you tell whether a particular positive affirmation is going to work for you?
Your body will tell you. It can help stop you from getting into that inner conflict situation.
If you pause for a moment and tune in to your body, then say the affirmation, if it’s in alignment with where you’re at or ready to ‘be’, then your body will feel good. If it’s not – and if it’s going to create inner conflict for you – then your body will give you a clear signal to warn you!
At the end of this article, there some exciting info on a specially-designed resource to help you with positive affirmations.
For now, let’s go back to that pesky inner critic.
So what can you do about it? How can you deal with that inner critic and change negative self talk?
By reclaiming your personal power.
Your inner critic is simply a commentary, based on what you have trained your Monkey Mind to think, over the years. That’s it.
It’s not a ‘nasty person’ or ‘bad’. It’s simply the way you have previously chosen to talk to yourself – and that can shift – in any moment.
And, whilst it might feel the other way round, you are the boss and the inner critic is not.
Here are six things you can do, right now, to start setting yourself free from negative self talk:
- Slow it down
If you slow down the speed of your inner critic (and your thoughts in general), then your body can get out of its adrenalin-based ‘fight or flight’ mode and stop producing stress hormones. All of this has an instant impact on the inner critic and your self talk.
If the idea of working with your thoughts feels daunting, then there are some simple mindfulness and meditation techniques that can produce great results in just a few days. You might find How To Meditate – Made Easy will help.
- Change the voice
Most of us pick (and yes, we do choose – even if unconsciously!) a ‘nasty’ voice for our inner critic. What would happen if you chose to change it to a voice that reminds you of someone you love; someone who thinks you’re great? Or at least a voice that makes you feel ‘ok’?
You can change the voice.
- Turn down the volume
Just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean you have to listen to it!
You can choose to turn down the volume on your self talk, even if changing the words feels like too much at the moment.
- Set boundaries
Be firm with it! You are the boss. Tell it that you’re not interested in hearing stories that make you feel bad about yourself any more. It’s ok. You can do it!
- Give it a new job
How about instructing your inner critic to be a detective, on the look-out for things you do well? Collecting evidence of your talents? Reminding you of the reasons why you are lovely? Spotting when people do kind things? Looking for opportunities to smile at life?
It’s on your payroll. If you mean it, it will do it. How about giving it a go?
- Make friends with it
Your inner critic – your self talk – is a habit. That’s it. If you reject it, it’s going to fight back. So, instead, how about making friends with it? If someone pushes you away, chances are you’ll retaliate and fight back. Why would your inner critic be any different? (After all, it’s part of you!)
Instead, make friends. By accepting your inner critic as being part of you – and worthy of love and compassion – you might be amazed at the miracles that start to happen.
When you have had a chance to try some of these out, how about sharing how you get on, via the comments for this article?
Now back to those limiting beliefs…
How To Change A Belief
Has your inner critic helped you to stumble across a limiting belief that has been holding you back?
Here’s one of my favourite limiting belief change techniques, which works in under sixty seconds. There’s a bonus audio at that link, too, if you’d like a ‘virtual mentor’ to guide you through the process. Enjoy!
I’m shortly going to be publishing a mini-book called “Why Positive Affirmations Don’t Work – And What You Can Do About It (An Insider’s Guide To Changing Limiting Beliefs)”
If you’d like to find out when it comes out, please make sure you’re getting my Soul-Sized Living newsletter (it’s free!).
Also, if you have any questions or comments about positive affirmations, limiting beliefs and your inner critic that you’d like me to answer in the book, please post them in the comments for this article, and you could win yourself a free copy!