Inner Critic? Are you there? I can’t hear you? Must be a bad connection… CLICK!
I never read movie reviews. Sometimes this means I make mistakes and see things like “Just Go With It”. (I know, I know.) Still, I like to make up my own mind and not have someone tell me whether or not something is worthy of my time. Also, it’s easy to avoid reading movie reviews. I just turn the page or click on another tab. But it’s not as easy to navigate away from the Inner Critic. That’s the part of ourselves that’s made up of all the negative message we got from our teachers, parents, peers and other authority figures we met growing up. The Inner Critic has a direct line into our heart because it was made by many of the people we cared about most. But the good news is, when this oversized, outdated bully dials us up, we can learn to hang up the phone.
The first thing we have to learn is when the Inner Critic is calling. She usually rings in when we’re struggling with an issue or doing something new and unfamiliar. What’s difficult in your life today? Dating? Starting a new career? Moving to a different city? Whatever it is, jot it down. Give it some attention and see how it makes you feel. Next, keep a little notebook with you at all times and write down what you hear every time you’re dealing with this struggle. This might be a little tough at first- we’re not used to listening to the voices behind our thoughts. But the more you pay attention, the more you’ll hear your Inner Critic.
After doing this for a while and learning what kind of messages you’re getting, it’s helpful to see if you can remember when you’ve heard those words before. Like that mean girl in your High-School gym class, the Inner Critic loves to repeat bad news. So, if your Inner Critic is telling you, “You’ll fail at starting a new business just like you failed math in 8th grade”, it’s time to see who shamed you about that in the first place. This is a great way of learning that the cruel self-talk that the Inner Critic encourages, is based on lies and false equivalents. Your battles with Algebra have nothing to do with your dream of being a restaurateur. But the Inner Critic doesn’t want you to know that. Soon however, your new tools of listening and writing will lead you to the sources of the Inner Critic’s power. Surprise, you’ve got caller ID.
Now that you’ve got a good handle on when the Inner Critic is calling and what it’s saying, you can begin to interrupt the connection. When you find yourself vulnerable and the negative inner-chatter is ramping up, you’ll know it. Replace those voices with simple truths. For example, if your Inner Critic likes to harass you about your appearance, it’s possible to stop it in its tracks by listing some of the qualities you love most about you. Don’t try and replace “You’re fat” with “I’m a supermodel!”- it won’t work. The trick is to tell ourselves things we already believe. Try, “I have a beautiful smile” or “I’m doing a great job losing weight every week.” These things are accessible, immediate and best of all- true.
The world wants you to give the best of who you are. The world needs your unique magic! The Inner Critic however, would like to see you tied up all day on the mental telephone with her. Sorry, but that bill is just too expensive. It’s time to hang up- and change your number.
Sophie Chiche, catalyst, visionary, curator of characters andmom is the founder of lifebyme.com, a global community gathered around the question, “What is meaningful to you?” She has master’s degrees in business, journalism and psychology. www.lifebyme.com
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