We all have that little voice in our head that is over critical, and sometimes down right horrible. It’s the voice that says you’re not good enough, that you aren’t lovable, the voice who compares you to others, or who seems to always find a way to bring you down. I call it the inner critic.
The inner critic is something we all hear and struggle with throughout our life, and is often the main thing holding us back from going after what we truly want. The reason it’s so powerful is because it’s part of the human condition, and played a huge role in our evolutionary survival – to protect us from physical or emotional harm. Over time, even though our immediate dangers have decreased, it still pops up in situations where it feels the need to keep you safe, so it says critical things that will stop you in your tracks or deter you from moving forward, regardless of whether it’s true or not.
Because it’s always there, the majority of us have never taken the time to truly acknowledge or understand it, and we’ve become so accustomed to hearing it, that it’s now a full-time resident in our minds dictating how we think, feel, and behave.
So, what can we do about it?
Although we can’t get rid of this voice, we can learn how to manage it, starting with these four simple steps.
- Recognise it – notice when you hear the inner critic, and consciously choose to separate yourself from its voice. You are simply the person listening to it. When does it pop up? What situations/people tend to trigger it? By learning how to distinguish its voice from your own, you’ll become more aware of when it’s in action.
- Acknowledge it – the worst thing you can do is argue with your inner critic, therefore simply listen. What’s it saying to you? What are some of its most frequently voiced beliefs/thoughts?
- Understand its motives – the inner critic kicks into gear when it feels you need to be protected, therefore identify what fear or doubt is driving it to say these things to you? What need is it trying to meet, by making you believe what it has to say?
- Choose YOUR way forward – ask yourself if what it’s saying to you is true or useful? Is it serving you in moving forward with your life in a healthy way? If not…What would be a more useful and empowering thing to say to yourself in this moment?
By actively going through these four steps, your inner critic will become a familiar, and even amusing, background noise, rather than an authoritative voice that holds you back from stepping into your brilliance and living a life you dream of.