There is one person that has been your constant companion in joy and sadness from the moment you were born. That person is you. You are unique and wonderful, you’ve always been there for yourself and you deserve to be your own best, most trusted friend. Yet, your inner critic will tell you that other people are nicer, funnier, smarter, more generous and more successful. They do everything better than you and get all the lucky breaks.
If you give power to your negative self-talk, you will quickly feel unmotivated and miserable. How can you become friends with your inner critic instead?
Your inner critic means well
Contrary to how it may seem, your inner critic is not here to make you miserable. What the inner critic is saying is often based on beliefs we’ve created as children to make sense of the world around us in the only way we knew how. While those beliefs may appear absurd now, at the time, with our limited knowledge, they were the only alternative to ‘The world doesn’t make sense’; and a world that doesn’t make sense is a dangerous place. Even though your inner critic is coming from a limited, often childish worldview, its purpose is to protect you from hurt and failure. Knowing this may help you have more compassion for that part of you.
Become mindful of your thoughts
Whenever you’re feeling sad, scared or uncomfortable, notice if your inner critic might have been the cause. It’s hard to remember to do this all the time, so choose a time to practice. The yoga mat is the perfect place to start. You can easily notice when you’re telling yourself what you can and cannot do, comparing yourself to others and judging yourself as not good enough.
When you’re talking to a friend, you don’t take every word as the absolute truth. Not everything your inner critic says is the truth, either. Far from it. Instead of identifying with your negative thoughts, get curious about them. ‘How interesting! Is this really true? What might the other side of this story be?’ Once you start questioning your thoughts, you’ll instantly realise that there are few actual facts behind many of them.
Speak to yourself kindly
Even if you have disagreements with your friends, you’d still speak to them respectfully and bring out the positives as well as the negatives in every situation. Reframe whatever your inner critic is saying in the same way. For example, turn ‘You’re so stupid’ into ‘We all make mistakes, and it’s ok. Look how much you learned from this situation!’
Act in your best interest
Just like you wouldn’t follow every piece of advice a friend gives, you wouldn’t act on everything your inner critic says either. Evaluate the information it’s sharing, decide if any of it is useful and discard everything else. Don’t let your inner critic make your choices for you. Stand in your own power.
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.