So you hear it again. That critical voice in your head. Darn, you were really hoping to fly by this challenging project at work withOUT hearing all those inner mean girl comments.
I’m never going to get this right.
Watch, I’ll miss the mark on this just like last time.
It’s hopeless – I’m not smart enough.
Like an annoying neighbor who just won’t get the hint to stop talking, your heart sinks as you hear your negative self gleefully grab the microphone.
You’re so tired of hearing this inside – like a recording stuck on a loop, it keeps coming back to beat you down over and over.
It’s challenging enough already, but that’s only half of it. It’s complicated even more by the fact that the inner critic shows up differently for everyone. For me, mine got it’s ugly from religion.
I was raised in a religious cult, and was surrounded by a culture in which our efforts were never good enough. The experience taught me that no matter how hard I tried, I would personally never be enough.
I was always striving to prove myself, doubting myself, and it never worked out.
As you can imagine, the inner critic gained the headliner position in my mind, and even years after I left and bravely created my own life, this voice would consistently rip away my confidence and trip me up.
Until I found the way to silence it.
It is possible for you to feel absolutely confident and convinced of your talents and worth, so much so that these thoughts don’t even dare to come out of the shadows. All you need is the know-how, and below are four steps to walk you through it.
When the negative self-talk starts to play in your head, just STOP for a second and breathe. Yes, in this moment, something isn’t going right. Something isn’t falling into place like you hoped it would, and you are looking for someone to blame (hello self!)
But before you straighten your pointer finger in the mirror and fall back into that old pattern, let’s pause for a moment and take a quick stop in non-judgement land.
Don’t worry, you’re still going to look at how to improve, but for now, give yourself a proverbial timeout… no judgement allowed.
I find that most people are doing the best they can with the resources they have.
Is it possible that YOU are?
What does that statement mean anyway? It means that in a moment of decision, I choose to believe that I’m making the best decision I can, given what I know at the time, the coping/ problem-solving tools I have right then, and the resources that are at my disposal.
Adopting this mantra is like a cold glass of just perfectly sweetened lemonade on a hot summer’s day. It gives you a view on life (and about YOU!) that is empathetic, understanding and non-judgemental.
So what do you do next? You can’t just sit there all day and get nothing done, right?
I hear ya.
Ask your intuition what you could see that you haven’t considered yet. What bit of wisdom has been hidden from you until this moment, that when discovering it, could make you view yourself in a new way?
Most of us have not been trained to trust and develop our intuition, so this exercise may initially seem futile. “There’s nothing there! All I hear is the mean voice inside,” you think.
But my friend, I ask you to trust that there is something there, even if you aren’t aware of it just yet.
Here’s an easy way to start your journey.
Shut your eyes. In your imagination, picture the source of the critical voice you hear and shrink it down to mouse size. Now put that person in a small, soundproof box. Slide that box over to one side – way out of your internal view. You haven’t gotten rid of the voice just yet, but you are giving it a time out so you can think.
Now, take a deep breath, eyes still closed, and consider yourself objectively… pretend you are someone else …a kind individual who believes in you, and that person is considering your situation without judgement.
Side note : Doesn’t this feel so much better than listening to that annoying inner critic?
Discover a Truth.
After taking a few minutes to reflect, now you move into action-mode inside of yourself. Look for some kind of ‘aha’ moment that would make you feel differently about yourself. And here’s a secret – it will only do the trick if it’s directed to you.
What positive things are actually true about you? What could YOU do differently next time? Could there be something else true that you may have missed at first glance? (You are looking for something empowering here.) An realization about a choice you have, a decision you could make differently going forward, a way to grow.
You may realize there was something you heard already, but you pushed it aside for what you felt like you SHOULD do. Tune in and unleash your inner Confucius – we all have one.
So what about the critical voice you left, mouse-sized, in the sound proof box in your imagination?
What you’ll find is that by proactively changing your focus to your intuition, the critical voice will get quieter and quieter over time.
Now you move forward into action. Take a moment to thank your Inner Confucius (aka your intuition, spirit or higher self) for giving you insight, and decide where to go from here.
What action you will take as a result of this learning that you discovered? Try it out!
And if it fails, know that there is again, another bit of wisdom available to you if you stop and listen, that will allow you to make small changes, continue growing, and leave that old critical voice in the dust for good.