“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.” – Charles Schwab
The notorious inner critic, the one we all have grown accustom to knowing and allowing, can be one of the most toxic and hardest things to silence. The one who mocks you, tells you you’re not good enough, and constantly points out all of your flaws is the most damaging voice we all fall victim to. Now think about that person being a ‘friend’ of yours… would you keep them around? Definitely not. So if we wouldn’t accept this treatment from someone else, why do we so willingly allow it from ourselves?
This negative self-talk happens so often that it can become less easy to see, and therefore even more damaging to our level of self-esteem. So what can you do to help silence your inner critic? Here are 5 simple, healthy habits you can use to help keep them at bay:
1) Develop an awareness & acceptance of your thoughts and listen to what they say.
This might sound counter-intutiative but with acceptance and awareness comes freedom. I always like to think of it as you can only fix/grow from something that you’re aware of. If you don’t know it’s there, how are you meant to learn from it? At the very base of our negative thoughts are our deep-seated core insecurities, and becoming aware of these insecurities will only help us understand why we act/treat ourselves the way we do. Without insecurities we’d have no leverage to grow and evolve. So the next time your inner critic starts harping on, ask yourself what’s the real reason I feel like this? What is my ego trying to highlight? From this, you can then learn to accept why you’re feeling this way and discover how you can help yourself do differently next time.
2) Ask yourself if you would speak to your best friend/ 5 year old self like this?
Often the most caring, sensitive and kind people are the ones who tend to speak to themselves the worst. The only thing we are guaranteed in our lives is ourselves and if you can’t be there for yourself, the world can be a lonely place. I’m a firm believer in learning to be your own biggest cheerleader and best friend. As human beings, we are all naturally selfish (in a good way) and see the world through our own eyes, and that’s why it’s so important to put yourself first and to take care of yourself before anyone else. As the famous saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. If you spent as much energy being kind to yourself, as you do for those around you, you’ll help create a happier, kinder and more loving environment for everyone.
3) Remind yourself of how incredible you are.
Keeping track of your successes, no matter how big or small you may think they are, are great ways to elevate your self-esteem. Try taking ten minutes out of your day to look back and write down everything in your life that you’re proud of so far. We often find it easier to remember criticism, and bad events over compliments and moments of accomplishments. Having a list of all your strengths can be a simple way of immediately silencing your inner critic. Being able to give yourself a bit of a pep talk in difficult moments will help you remind yourself that you’re strong, independent and able to handle anything life throws your way.
4) Practise being in the present moment.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your thoughts that you can take the simplest things in life for granted. Our mind loves to run away and jump to the worst possible conclusions. When you feel yourself getting stuck in your head, tune back into your surroundings. Look around, what do you hear? What do you see? What can you smell? The present moment is so incredibly powerful and will help bring you back into reality. When you’re aware of your surroundings, you’ll come to realise that your mind is preoccupied and too busy absorbing everything else, to spend time critiquing you. Who knows how many friendly, smiley faces you’ve missed by being too caught up in your own cycle of negative thoughts.
5) Fine-tune how you perceive and judge others.
We all feel like this, and we all deal with the daily task of negative self-talk. For me, this makes it easier to relax and calm down. It also makes me more aware of the way I treat and see others. Life, at times, can be tough and it’s always important to realise that people are always doing the best they can with what they’ve learnt so far. So the next time you feel yourself getting irritated by someone being rude or particularly unfriendly, pause for a second, and contemplate why they’re acting the way they are, because you can guarantee their inner critic is on full blast right now, and they can probably do with a friendly smile. Never underestimate the power of kindness 🙂