How to Shut Down Your Harsh Inner Critic
The way we talk to ourselves has a tremendous impact on how we see the world. Many of us think that it’s the other way around, that our experiences and interactions with others dictate the way we perceive them. While the outside world may be responsible for shaping our inner voice as children, the way we continue to speak to ourselves as adults can either promote wellness or preserve despair.
Unlearning negative self-talk is not easy, but through patience and determination, you can start to drown out your inner critic and find acceptance where you need it most – from within.
Why Am I So Self-Critical?
Have you ever asked yourself why you’re tearing yourself down over the smallest mistake? It’s not uncommon for people to spend days, weeks or even years rehashing embarrassing moments, failures and setbacks in their minds. Every thought becomes further evidence you’re not worthy of the things you want. Over time, you become certain that you’re not only unworthy but also incapable, so you stop trying altogether.
Taking our thoughts as fact is one way cognitive distortions affect our inner voice. Cognitive distortions are learned ways of thinking that are inaccurate but we interpret as true. They include seeing things in black-or-white terms, filtering information to support our own beliefs, however destructive, and blaming ourselves for things beyond our control.
Self-Talk and Self-Esteem
Everyone has a voice that helps them decide whether something they did was satisfactory, but that voice can either be uplifting and encouraging or abusive and demeaning.
A harsh inner critic may come from our parents or teachers, people early in life who taught us that doing things the “right way” was more important than being happy. Our childhood plays a fundamental role in shaping our self-image. If you were the victim of bullying, you may have internalized the horrible things people said about you. Childish insults like “you’re stupid” or “you’re ugly” can cause a person to grow up and genuinely believe that they are undesirable, unintelligent and inferior to others.
Changing your inner critic starts with realizing that your self-talk isn’t constructive. If you’re against you, it doesn’t matter how many people support you. You have to be the biggest advocate for your success and happiness.
Stopping Your Inner Critic For Good
The first step toward changing your inner voice is to become fully aware of its nature. Keep a journal for a few days and write down all the things your critic says. Then, take note of how it speaks.
Do you find yourself name-calling, blaming and even shaming yourself? Don’t feel bad if this is the case. Becoming aware of this is an amazing step toward being able to consciously reject the things your inner critic says.
Psychotherapy can also be an incredible tool in reframing your thoughts and learning positive self-talk. To learn more about our counseling services and how they may help you, please contact us today at Foundations Family Counseling.