So it is 2017, it is January so everyone is reassessing their lives and trying to make changes. So what make us not attain our goals and fall back into old patterns? One reason is not having a good action plan, with measurable steps and ways of reinforcing goals. (I will write about setting and completing goals in another blog post later this month.) Second is because we usually allow our inner critic to weigh in on the dream or goal at hand. Sometimes we have one voice that trolls our thoughts and squashes our dreams and sometimes there is a committee that graces us with it’s presence. So the question is who talks to you? In this article we will learn where this voice resides in our head, identify what it says to us and ways to reprogram it. Enjoy!
“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!” ~Robert Kiyosaki
1.Knowing what the what the inner critic is and where it resides.
This inner critic or self criticism resides in the it prefrontal cortex of the brain which processes reason and helps us to not make errors and makes us more inhibited. When this part of the brain is used too much it can activate the amygdala (the fight flight or freeze part of the brain) which tells us that we are unsafe. This is helpful to keep us alive however, when this is the way that your brain defaults it can make us more likely to be anxious, depressed, or have an eating disorder. So that you can have a more clear idea of what the voice of the inner critic this is usually what it says:
- You are not capable
- That you shouldn’t try because you will fail
- That you are not worthy
- You must be perfect or not even try
- You are not good enough
- No body loves you
- You are alone
It kind of sounds like an asshole to me. But most of people allow this voice to speak to them, until they realize that this is not the voice that is helping them. This voice is trying to help but it actually harming our self concept, our ability to love ourselves, and our ability to have compassion with ourself. It is time to stop listening to this voice. It does not have your best interest. It is ruled by fear, so it is keeping your vision small and your dreams unfilled.
Tell the negative committee that meets in your head to sit down and to shut up. ~Anne Bradford
2. Identifying what our inner critic says to us.
In order to be aware of exactly what this inner critic says to us we need to listen for it and take notice of it. So I want you to either take out a piece of paper or I would like you to either download the conversation bubble Jpeg, I have provided. Start thinking about doing something different or something that you have failed at. Write down what your inner critic says to you. If you want think about what this inner critic or committee visually looks like. Make them into a character and draw them if you would like.
“The toughest thing is facing yourself. Being honest with yourself, that’s much tougher than beating someone up. That’s what I call tough.” ~ Joe Strummer
3. Facing our inner critic and having compassion for yourself
The only way to have something that we don’t like about ourselves go away is by facing it. This is also true with letting our inner critic go. Facing the feelings of unworthiness, shame, guilt and fear will strengthen us and allow us to be free. When we sit through these feelings and practice self compassion and soothe ourselves we can move through these feelings. When we dodge, dive and avoid these feelings they continue to persist.
So how do I show up for these feelings? The way to show up for these uncomfortable feelings is to make space for them and sit with them. Then practice being kind to yourself when you feel this way. No judgement. Only say soothing things to yourself. When we practice telling ourselves kind things this allows create new neural pathways to form and we can learn how to better soothe ourselves. So then we can begin to have a nurturing voice that speaks to us instead of one that berates us constantly.
“Painful feelings are, by their very nature, temporary. They will weaken over time as long as we don’t prolong or amplify them through resistance or avoidance. The only way to eventually free ourselves from debilitating pain, therefore, is to be with it as it is. The only way out is through.”
4. Replacing the inner critic with a nurturing voice
How do we work on replacing committee with a nurturing voice? When we notice that our head is starting again with the negativity, we can learn to soothe that inner critic and see it for what it is a small child that is full of fear. We need to be kind to it and ourselves and say ” I am sorry dear that you are so afraid. You are not alone, there are others that also feel this way. May you be release from this fear and find peace and serenity.”
The more that you practice this instead of judging yourself the more that you will find that you can soothe yourself quicker and that the inner critic talks to you less. Each time that you practice this new way of interacting with yourself the deeper the groove of the neural pathway will get. Then eventually your brain will more automatically go to a nurturing place. It is all about practice. Just like life it is a practice.
Want to learn how to do this practice more? Check out Kritin Neff’s self compassion meditations and exercises here.
Please comment below, what does your inner critic look like? How do you practice self compassion? Do you have more questions or want help with your inner critic? Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation to learn how I can help you to feel more self confident and firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323.515.2278.
Have a blessed week,