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Do you have an inner critic undermining your confidence and self-esteem? Does your inner voice focus on negative self-talk, making you doubt your capabilities, self-worth and ability to try new things?
A destructive inner voice can intrude on all aspects of life including your career, your mood and mindset, family life, personal relationships and generally anything to do with achieving goals and being happy with who you are. It destroys the trust you have in your own abilities and limits your potential to achieve your dreams. It prevents you from grasping the opportunities life presents to you and finding out what you are truly capable of doing. Turning the inner critic into a positive and encouraging friend takes time, however it can be done with perseverance and compassion for yourself.
So how do you stop listening to your inner critic?
Identify the triggers – it can be helpful to identify the situations which bring on negative self-talk. Is it when you are attempting new things, is it when you are in a social situation, is it in the work environment or is it happening when you don’t live up to preconceived expectations? Identifying the situations which trigger your inner critic will help you to prepare a strategy for counteracting the negative self-talk when it happens.
Recognise the fear – when you feel the fear kicking in, push yourself to do whatever it is you were scared of. Recognise the fear and then make a conscious choice to work through it. Let other people know you are stepping outside your comfort zone and ask for support. You will probably be surprised how many people want to help you enjoy the moment!
Short-circuit the negative self-talk – it’s important to short circuit the negative self-talk and turn damaging thoughts into positive ones. For example, when you catch the inner critic saying you will look silly if you try to learn a new sport, turn the thought to “This could be fun and so what if I look silly, everyone else has at some time too!” Or if you catch the inner critic berating you for not doing something well, turn the thought into “Oh well, at least I gave it a go, everyone has an off day.”
Embrace a positive attitude and be kind to yourself – whilst you are learning to quieten your inner critic, be determined to focus on the good things about you. Identify the strengths in your character or abilities, and remind yourself of these often. Try to remember we can’t all be great at everything and congratulate yourself on what is good about you and the things you do well.
Banishing the inner critic can be challenging. The important thing to realise is you can do it if you turn the critic’s volume down and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Focusing on your strengths and embracing a positive attitude, regardless of the outcomes of situations, will help you banish the inner critic. This will in turn help to increase self-esteem and provide you with the confidence to have a go, enjoy the moment and congratulate yourself for doing it!
If you feel you could benefit from counselling to help banish your inner critic, please call Karen Cummins at Mindful Crossroads counselling services on 0400 416 535 or fill in the “Contact” section on the Mindful Crossroads website to arrange a confidential discussion.