We all have that small voice in the back of our minds that seems to have a heavy influence on how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes that voice can be extra critical and it can fill us with self-doubt and feelings of low self-worth.
This voice can carry various messages that we may start to believe are true such as: “I can’t go back to school, I am too old.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I shouldn’t try to ask for her number, she will just reject me.” “I never get a raise because I am simply not talented.” This voice can get in the way of us going for the things we really want in life. It can make us feel not good enough, can question our abilities, and prevent us from taking that first step.
So, what can we do to combat that inner critic? 1) First thing is to become aware of that voice. What is it saying? Do you notice any patterns? When does it seem to be the loudest? Start keeping track of when this voice is present and the various messages it seems to be telling you.
2) Next, counteract those messages with positive messages: “I can go back to school—my age does not matter. I will succeed academically.” “I am smart and I know I can do this task.” “I will ask for her number, the worst she can say is no.” “I have not received a raise yet, but I have been in the company for over a year and I think my talents deserve a raise.” 3) Practice positive affirmations. Find ones that resonate with you and start making a list of them. Repeat them often throughout the day. Some find it especially helpful to practice saying positive affirmations out loud in front of a mirror.
4) Do not compare yourself to others. It is so common for us to compare ourselves to others that we perceive as more successful, better looking, smarter, etc. Who can blame us? We live in a society full of perceived ideas that everyone else is doing better than we are, especially on our social media feed. If you feel like you struggling with “comparison syndrome” try taking a break from social media. Create healthy boundaries with others in your life that may have a tendency to negatively compare you to others or put you down. If you have the urge to compare, then try to compare yourself today with yourself five years ago. How much did you grow and change? What did you accomplish during that time frame?
5) Know that changing that inner critic will take time. These messages may have been with you for years. They may have originated from early childhood with a critical caregiver. They may be the result of years in a toxic relationship. Give yourself grace as you learn to combat these critical thoughts. It may feel uncomfortable and foreign practicing positive self-talk, but the more you practice the more familiar it will become. Soon enough it may even start to feel comfortable and you will start to see that inner voice isn’t so critical anymore!
If you're having a hard time with your inner critic, our team of therapists can support you through this and provide you more tools on how to make your inner voice a little more kinder. Reach out to our team here!