Do you hear that voice inside that criticizes you day-in, day-out?
That is your inner critic. A voice that only you hear, offering criticisms of self that are not always constructive. In fact, the voice is often destructive.
The thing about your inner critic is that it does not go away. It is simply a part of being human. Some are better than others at coping with this little, but sometimes big, critic. When the voice gets bigger it can increase stress, worry, and doubt—it can even contribute to ongoing anxiety and depression. The good news about this voice is that you can choose to utilize it to your advantage.
The tool or coping skill that I am about to share with you, I did not create. Truthfully, I have read and studied it on multiple levels, both personal and professional, so I am uncertain of where I've adapted it, other than through experience. These are my tips on how to tame your inner critic in three easy steps...
1. Name your inner critic.
That’s right...give your inner critic a name like you would your child or pet. I call mine Diva. You may call yours Fanny, George, Asiata, Fred—whatever you'd like. Naming it allows you to better identify its presence, not to separate it from you, rather to notice when and how it shows up.
- Does your inner critic voice itself while you are about to fall asleep or right before a big meeting at work?
- Does it normally doubt your ability to parent? Communicate? Provide?
- Does it make your heart race or lead to panic attacks?
2. Listen to [insert inner critic name].
Naming your inner critic can make feelings that are normally heavy feel just a little lighter, with a twist of humor. I always say, “Okay, Diva. I hear you.” And that’s just it.
Though Diva may present frantic or frustrated, she serves a purpose. She lets me know when my plate is too full or I have been neglectful of taking care of myself. Your inner critic can help you better understand and serve yourself as well, if you simply listen.
3. Embrace your inner critic.
Like I mentioned, our inner critic is not a separate entity. It is a part of you. Denying it or pushing it deep down so that you never have to deal with it is only denying yourself acceptance and love. Conversely, embracing it with a warm hug, as if it is a best friend you have not seen in ages, is like securing yourself a “pass go” in monopoly, right into more positive self talk and affirmations.
Always remember, you are a student and using this beneficial tool takes practice.
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