If there’s a voice in your head that speaks when you look in the mirror or any time you think you aren’t good enough or can’t do something this article is for you. That voice you let out of the bag too often is your overactive inner critic. We all have them. For some it is motivation to prove the voice wrong. In others it blocks their path to achieving their potential. If your inner critic is too loud, here’s how to put a gag on it.
1. Have a Conversation with That Negative Voice in Your Head
That negative voice is a loud one, and can throw you off track easily, making you feel like a failure when you’re not. Shut down your inner critic by acknowledging the message and negating it. Stop yourself when you hear it feeding you its critical, and sometimes cruel, message. Answer back; telling yourself that this kind of message is not only not helpful, it’s actually harmful. Say the same things to yourself that you’d say to a cherished friend who said those things about him- or herself.
2. Develop Mindful Habits
Being mindful is about living in the moment, and not projecting ourselves into the future. Mindful people often keep journals, meditate, or just sit in silence and contemplate once a day. People who engage in mindful habits often keep their negative emotions in perspective and realize that thoughts and emotions don’t define them. Also, mindful habits encourage more self-compassion and self-control because we can reflect thoughtfully.
3. Embrace the Imperfect Person You Are
Welcome to humanity, in all its craziness. Stop holding yourself to such crazy high standards, because perfectionism is very destructive. After all, who can be perfect, so how can you ever succeed? Perfectionism is setting yourself up for failure again and again, why do that to yourself? The most successful people acknowledge their imperfections, then get up and try to do better next time.
4. Give Yourself Frequent Reality Checks
Sometimes you might feel like your every flaw is on display and that everyone is judging you. But are they really? Most people are too self-absorbed and worried about their own insecurities to give an extraordinary amount of attention to yours. If you made a mistake people probably didn’t recoil in shock or run the other way. They may have given you a cursory glance at best and went back to whatever they were doing.
5. Seek Support
When your inner voice is beating you up and you’re having trouble getting it to be quiet, call a friend or family member. Shaming ourselves only works when it’s not exposed. So, if you dropped a jar of mayonnaise in the grocery store and feel humiliated, just call and tell your friend you feel like a total idiot and here’s why. It’s likely that your friend has a similar story or a funny come-back to ease your self-loathing, and shame will be suddenly cut off at the knees.
6. Give Your Inner Critic a Funny Name
Yes, this sounds like ridiculous advice, but when you’re hearing that old inner critic’s voice, it lightens things up to say to something like, “Oh boy, I see old Grouch Bucket is here again.” It’s hard to take that voice seriously when you call it a goofy name. It helps to short circuit the hold that your inner negative voice has on you and helps you dismiss it easier.
7. Use “possible” Thinking
No one is very good at being their own cheerleader when the Grouch Bucket starts talking. The power of positive thinking just doesn’t work, according to research; it just makes us feel worse. Telling yourself you are terrific when you don’t feel terrific just sounds like a lie. But “possible” thinking is something else entirely. For example, you may feel like you’re as big as a horse. Instead of letting your inner voice call you a horse, counter that so it becomes, “I need to lose 10 pounds, and I know how to do it.” Suddenly losing 10 pounds becomes possible.
It takes a strong person to ignore their inner critic but the benefits are enormous. It gives you power over your actions and reactions and puts you in control of what affects your self esteem and confidence. How loud is that voice in your head? Are you going to let her keep in winning?