It weighs heavily on us, and it wears us out. It holds us back, and it kicks us when we’re already down. This is our critical inner voice, and it can be relentless. Often what forms this voice is what we were told growing up, and it becomes internalized. It then feeds in on itself and fuels a vicious cycle of negative self-talk.
Here are three ways that may help you stand your ground against your own inner critic:
1) Track your mood and thoughts using a log
I’m no licensed professional, but this was one strategy that my therapist taught me by ways of cognitive behavioral therapy. It helped me to better identify repeating patterns in my self-criticisms, as well as objectively argue back against them. Here is an example to help you get started. Feel free to adjust accordingly to have it suit your needs. My log consisted of the situation/trigger, feelings/emotions, negative thoughts, error/distortion, and realistic/rational thoughts. Most importantly, here is a list of cognitive errors and distortions behind our negative thoughts.
2) Draw strength from inspirational quotes
There have been days that I would be down on myself, and I needed some words of inspiration. Take some time to yourself to do the same. It may be hard to take them completely to heart, but it could be enough to lift some of the heaviness weighing down on you. We all need little reminders every now and then to break through that dark cloud hanging overhead. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Be nice to yourself…It’s hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time.” – Christine Arylo
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Believe in yourself, and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian Larson
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
3) Talk to those you trust as additional defense
I know I try to reason things out on my own, and I don’t want to burden others with my problems. But sometimes I just need to get outside of my own head. Getting that feedback from people you trust can dispel those distortions. Whether it’s family, friends, or counselors, use them as a sounding board to bounce off any feelings of self-doubt. They will help you see the situation in a more realistic light and remind yourself that you are more than what that voice is telling you.
The hold this voice may have over you can be overbearing, but you don’t have to let it hold you captive forever. This is a voice that is used to being in control, and that kind of power isn’t relinquished so easily. Be kind to yourself if you find you’re still not able to break that cycle just yet. I definitely still have my days where that voice creeps back in, trying to make itself heard. But it’s not so loud as it was before. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this. As long as you are committed to fighting back against it, then half the battle is already won.
“You are imperfect, and you are wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging.” – Brene Brown