How do you quiet your inner critic and increase self compassion?
By Jennifer Seip
Let’s envision that you have a friend. The two of you go as far back as middle school or elementary school. How about we call them Alex. You and Alex used to do everything together. I mean, you grew up together. When you did homework, so did Alex. When you wanted to play, Alex was the first person you called. In fact the two of you spent so much time together that even when you got in trouble, Alex was punished too. However, it’s been many years and you’re adults. You have different jobs, different partners, different hobbies, even different personalities. The only time you really see or speak to Alex is when you have a big family or friend get together.
You see, now that it has been a long time you’re starting to notice that you don’t like spending as much time with Alex as you used to because, truth be told, Alex is not very nice. It’s as if every chance they get, Alex has something new to criticize you about. They say things like, “you’re so stupid,” and “you’re a loser compared to everyone else.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Get rid of Alex! The trouble is, Alex is really you. That is to say, Alex is your brain, they are your words. You are telling yourself all of those mean things. Therefore, it’s not so easy to disconnect from Alex because above all Alex is your inner critic.
“Now, I know what you’re thinking. Get rid of Alex! The trouble is, Alex is really you.”
Our inner critics are like wood peckers, pecking at our brains and self confidence, slowly wearing us down until we let them in. They leave us feeling empty, worthless, and meager. So what can you do to silence your inner critic? Better yet, what can you do to silence Alex? Here’s how.
1. Give Your Inner Critic A Name
I named mine Alex, but you can name yours anything. I suggest using something that’s easy to remember. When you give your inner critic a name you personify them. It’s much easier to tell someone else to go away than it is to say it to ourselves. If you think of your critic as someone other than you, it makes the task of silencing them simpler and to be nice easier.
2. Be Curious About Your Inner Critic
Ask them why they decided to meet you today. Are they here because you are feeling triggered? In other words, does something that you’re experiencing today resemble a time in the past when you felt embarrassed, ashamed, or no-good? It’s clear that they are here for a reason and instead of shutting them down, give them space to tell you why they showed up.
3. Argue With Your Inner Critic
Yes I said it. I want you to argue. Tell them why they are wrong. Explain to them all of the reasons why their opinions are inaccurate. You want to be giving your critic real evidence so that they lose the battle. They’re feelings are incorrect because of A, B, and C. One useful example is saying to your critic something like, “Alex, yesterday when your friend locked themselves out of the house you were able to acknowledge that it was normal human error. However today when you forgot to pick up the milk from the grocery store you say that you are a loser. Why is that?”
4. Being Nice Goes A Long Way
Never underestimate the power of compassion. Practice gratitude every day and giving yourself a positive mantra that you can recite goes a long way. Such as, “even though I can be forgetful at times, I love and fully accept myself.” Additionally, another way you can be be nice to yourself and help grow your self confidence is by thanking yourself instead of blaming. Try saying something like, “thank you caring so much about other people feelings,” instead of “you’re too sensitive,” or “thank you for being accepting of yourself” instead of “you’re so difficult.”
Like all skills, these are learned. However once the effort is put in, you will see that your inner critic will begin to quiet as self love eclipses.
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