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  • Daniel Chua

Understanding Your Inner Critic

Many of us are probably not aware that we talk to ourselves and within ourselves more than we thought. With that said, our struggle with confidence and esteem may have to do our inner critic. You see, the way you talk to yourself can build you up or tear you down. When your inner dialogue is harsh, it’s usually because you’re repeating things you heard from your parents or other authority figures when you were growing up.

If the criticism goes too far, it can discourage you from trying and take the joy out of your life.

NOW is the time to break free from the voices in your head. There are a variety of techniques to harmonise with your inner critic so you can be productive at work and in your relationships. In fact, your inner critic may actually help propel you forward in life.

You can Make Friends with Your Inner Critic

Your inner critic will sound less scary if you remember that it wants to protect you from failure and other possible dangers.

Learn how to put it to work for you instead of against you:

  1. Increase awareness. You may be so used to your inner critic that you hardly think about what it’s saying. Your inner critic's intent is for your good. Start changing your relationship by trying to understand what it wants to tell you.

  2. Look back. What’s your first memory of your inner critic? Does it sound like a particular person from your past? There may be family issues or other matters that you need to heal before you can move on. You can even change the way it speaks to you and experience a different effect.

  3. Focus on growth. Maybe your inner voice says you’re bad at science because you failed a test in Primary Three. In reality, you’re not stuck in your past. Adopt a growth mindset that enables you to become whatever you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work to get there.

  4. Aim higher. You may also find your inner critic easier to deal with if you keep a deeper purpose in mind. When you’re working for something bigger than yourself, you can accept your self-doubts without being overcome by them.

  5. Try centring exercises. Many adults find that meditation helps them to make their self-talk more uplifting and motivating. Paraliminal is another exercise to help your non-conscious mind learn new ways to respond to what is going on in your outer world. Let go of judgements and connect with your inner self.

Silencing Your Inner Critic

On the other hand, there are times when you just need a break. If your self-talk is making you anxious and depressed, you can find relief.

  1. Seek distractions. Shift your attention elsewhere. Take a walk, go for a swim or read a book. Spend some time doing anything that you enjoy.

  2. Distance yourself. Turn down the volume by imagining that your inner critic is speaking to someone else instead of you. Take any statement and replace the personal pronouns with a funny name (cartoon character or a comedian).

  3. Identify triggers. Give yourself advance warning. Figure out the situations where your inner critic is likely to appear. You may be sensitive about responses to your social media posts or criticism from your superiors.

  4. List your strengths. If you’re tired of hearing about your weaknesses, remember your strengths. Make a list of the things you’re good at.

  5. Correct exaggerations. You are not the worst parent in the world because your kids acted up. Or you won't die because you can't solve a work problem. Keep things in perspective by ensuring that your self-talk is accurate.

  6. Use affirmations. Repeating positive affirmations can give you a boost when you’re feeling down. Go on a negative fast. Catch yourself saying good things about yourself.

  7. Remember your worth. Being tough on yourself erodes your self-esteem. Shore it back up by telling yourself that you deserve to be blessed and successful.

  8. Build support. While you need to value yourself, it helps to have others in your corner too. Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel positive about yourself and your opportunities.

Take control of your self-talk and your future. Treat yourself with compassion and keep striving to reach your full potential.

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