A Guide To Reducing Critical Self-Talk
We can often be one of our most prominent critics, making self-compassion challenging. The conversation we have with ourselves
You've practiced your affirmations, but something about everything you've said to yourself feels like a lie. There's a nagging voice inside you telling you that you are not good enough to be here or do that thing. And then that all too familiar voice reminds you of that time; you failed because "you weren't good enough." Oh my goodness! The voice clearly knows you; it must be, right, right?
Not exactly. These are the workings of your inner critic, sometimes referred to as our saboteur. It's the inner voice that makes you question your abilities, your dreams, and essentially yourself. Here's a guide on how to spot the sneaky saboteur trying to have its way in your life and responding to yourself with compassion.
Identify Your Inner Critic
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Your critic can try to stop you from fulfilling some of your goals or facing some of your fears. The primary purpose of your saboteur is to keep you in a place of "comfort," even when it's no longer serving you, but it feels so familiar that the voice in your head tries to convince you to stay right there.
While it might seem normal, not identifying this force in your life can hold you back in different spheres of your life. To spot it, be detailed in who, or what it looks and sounds like. Once you can put a face to the voice, so to speak, it's easier to tell it "not today, buddy."
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Your saboteur will often base its dialogue on a small bit of truth to try and validate the negativity. For instance, if you've been thinking of starting a new venture, your critical internal voice might say things like, "You don't know what you're doing. When have you ever done something like this? Remember that time you tried something new, and someone thought it was silly?"
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Think of self-compassion or being gentle with yourself as being kinder to yourself. Much like how you would treat a loved one you want the best for, approach yourself with that similar tenderness and well-intent.
Consider self-compassion as a step deeper into self-care and reflecting on your internal self instead of the external. Instead of the beautifully scented candles and the bubble bath (which are lovely), consider going to the root to help you find relief.
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"It's this ability, when we are suffering, to stand back and say: 'What is this about, why do I feel this? And what would be the most helpful thing for me now?'"
Paul Gilbert, a clinical psychologist and the founder of the Compassionate Mind Foundation, told "The Guardian."
Think Happy Thoughts
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Well, not so much happy thoughts, but try and combat the pessimistic voice with a "positive" voice. One that can look at what has (the dream, the will, the interest) instead of the supposed lack.
Keep affirming yourself despite the critic. You can write down some of the things you've done that you were proud of and remind yourself that you did that. This can help you to express yourself too.
While you may not be able to stop the inner critic, identifying it and its motives is the first step at diminishing its control. Next time it comes lurking, you'll know that you are actually enough and you're worth being heard.