Within each one of us, there is an inner self – we all hear from it, but very few people communicate with it. The inner self is just another part of us, it may present to us as an internal voice. For some the voice is supportive, encouraging and motivating. For others, the voice is critical and works against them.
The critical inner voice, or inner critic, is always critical and negative. It can ruin one’s excitement for achieving something that one has worked hard for or escalate one’s disappointment when things get negative. But there are ways that one can cope with it. Here are some self-help tips for taming your inner critic, effectively and gently.
First, we have to recognize this voice and its negativity. Identify it: is it a subjective, supportive friend giving you constructive feedback, or more of a hostile enemy demeaning your effort and self-worth? A friend would give you solutions so you can achieve better next time, but the inner critic is constantly negative and critical, it overlooks your effort and focuses on the result. Seeking support from a mental health care professional or doctor is important if you are finding that this inner voice is too negative or feeling out of control.
After recognizing the voice, we have to separate ourselves from it. Understand that the hostile voice is biased, irrational and not true of who you are. It does not reflect reality or your real point of view. To create distance from the inner critic, you can think of it as a character. It lives inside your mind, but it is also separate from you. Doing this makes communicating with your inner critic plausible and easier – you are now communicating with something that has a characteristic nature.
It is common that one’s inner critic tries to criticize one, define one and make conclusion about one’s future based on his or her past mistake. You have to challenge this – tell your inner critic and yourself that this is not true. Your past mistake is not and should not be used to define who you are. You are much more and much better than that. Inner critic may also pop up at times of self-doubt or lack of confidence. Challenge it; and if there is really something you want to improve about yourself, act on it and you will be surprised by how fast you are making the change.
Change the Way You Think
Your inner critic can be helpful, but most of the time, you have to re-frame whatever it says into an empowering, solution-oriented way. In simpler words, take whatever it says and put it into positive words. Don’t fall into the trap of defining yourself based on your past mistake, but think about what you can do to improve next time when you are in a similar situation – whether it is something related to school, work, or your personal life. Focus on how to make things better rather than the negativity of what happened.
Befriend Your Inner Critic
All of that being said, your inner critic does not have to be something or someone you need to defeat. Rather, you need to soothe, accept, and make peace with it, and this takes practice. Whether is it a friend who is too pessimistic or an enemy who is overfilled with unfriendliness, learn to befriend it. Embrace and accept its presence, while trying to transform its negative comments into constructive feedback. Practising self-care and taking care of your mental health are also important for positive thinking.
I hope this article will help you make peace with your inner critic as you move through your studies, and transform those negative thoughts into positive ones!