Tuesday 13 February 2018

How to manage your inner self-critic

It happens to us all from time to time, that little voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough and unlikely to succeed in your latest venture. For some, that inner-critic can be helpful, enabling us to really think through our choices and helping us to identify areas for development and growth. However, for some, the self-critic can become so ‘loud’ that it over shadows our self-belief and gives us a skewed perception of what we can really achieve and our true potential.

Our inner self-critic can manifest itself into all aspects of life, but can be particularly damaging at work, limiting our progress. As this Pychology Today article outlines, the self-critic is a pattern of negative thoughts that stops us from achieving our goals. The good news is that we have all we need to silence our inner self-critic within ourselves too – it just takes a bit of time and practice!

We’ve pulled together a few exercises to help you keep your self-critic at bay.

Work out what your critical voice is saying and why

Most negative thought patterns are borne out of prior experience which can usually be traced back to an early-life event. Try to focus not just what your critical inner voice is telling you but why that would be true. Remember that this thought process does not reflect reality - it is a just a thought you have internalised. Once you have broken down what your critic is saying, it will be easy to find flaws in that viewpoint which make it easier to override your critical voice. For example, when your inner critic says you can’t do something because you haven’t done it before, you can override that statement with the plans you have in place to gain the knowledge and experience you need beforehand.

Write it down

Have you ever noticed that the voice in your head is so much louder than all the other voices around? That’s what makes it most powerful. One way to counter this is by writing down what your critical voice is saying to you. "I can't get anything right” should be written as "You can't get anything right" then take a long look at these statements and think for a second about them. What would your colleagues think if they saw the statement? What would your family think? Seeing things from a different perspective will help you to see these thoughts for what they are - self-destructive falsehoods. Take a couple of minutes to counter these statements with a more realistic evaluation of yourself and your abilities.

Say it out loud

Your inner-critic is unkind and hurtful. When you hear your inner voice talking to you, spend a moment to repeat what it has said out loud. Would you speak this way to your friends and colleagues? No of course not. How would you react if one of your colleagues spoke this way to you? Let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t happen, so why do we accept this of ourselves? Saying things out loud is a great reminder of just how destructive our self-critic is and a good reminder to be kinder to ourselves.

If you do tend to be overly critical of yourself, join the club, you're definitely not alone. However, it’s important that we do what we can to address these negative thoughts and nip them in the bud, turning them into a positive dialogue that will help us grow, rather than self-fulfilling prophesies.