All of us have our own inner critics.
And they often hold us to standards we seldom reach. And then they say things we would never admit to anyone else.
“I am such an idiot; I am a phony; I never do anything right; I will never succeed.”
Over time, this self-flagellation no longer works, and our lack of self-confidence holds us back from the things we could do!
This often happens when we are isolated...like everyone is now...around the world!
You would think that we would want to replace this critical voice with our own cheerleader! But if you are like me, you have discovered that is not that easy.
In the beginning, we viewed our inner critic as a friend; a friend that always made us try to be better and didn’t allow us to slack off. We feared that we would become lazy and apathetic without our inner critic. However, as we got older...and became wiser....we wished that this critic would become our own best friend.
So here are four observations to help make this happen, as posited by Dr. Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., author of Think Forward to Thrive.
1. Your inner critic has never been your friend.
Many times, when it speaks to us, it brings about a lot of negative emotions, fear, anxiety, self-doubt and shame. It causes us to fixate on what’s wrong with us rather than what’s right. It prevents us from seeing the very things we need to build our self-confidence.
So take advantage of a wonderful characteristic which the Lord created in all of our brains; it believes what we tell it...without question...no arguments!!
So when we notice that our inner critic is fixating on what is wrong with us, talk back to it! Remind it that YOU’RE THE BOSS! In fact, it is a captive audience inside your cranium, and YOU are the only person it listens to. And what others say about you do NOT become a part of you until YOU agree with them. And yes, dear reader, this is a choice you can make.
Again, a wonderful characteristic about our brain is that it listens to us, and agrees with what we say. And when we choose to lock onto these new messages, it rewires itself so these wonderfully constructive messages become a part of the way we think, and then they become who we are!
2. Recognize the traits your inner critic has been hiding!
The second step is to recognize what has always been there. Look at what you have accomplished. Since I am amazingly skillful at undervaluing myself, I periodically go to Word for Windows on my computer and list as many successes and achievements I can think of.
But I don’t stop there. I then write down the positive traits that helped me achieve those accomplishments.
They don’t have to be huge things. A positive comment about my work, a compliment from Mary, a nice run, a great workout, a time with our grandchildren, the wonderful men our daughters married, or something I have finally accomplished.
I write down about three or four things a week. I like to keep this list running so it becomes a tangible document I can use as evidence that my inner critic is often wrong.
And no, this won’t make you a narcissist!
Human behavior is always on a continuum. Being on either end of the spectrum is usually not a healthy place to be. Your goal is to simply move more toward the middle on the self-confidence continuum where there is a healthy balance.
Humility and self-confidence are NOT mutually exclusive; they are very complementary traits.
3. Practice being kind to yourself.
Now that you have chosen to boot the inner critic out of your life, you will need a new best friend; a positive inner voice that is soothing and self-compassionate.
However, this voice isn’t going to let you off the hook; it is going to be more honest with you than the critic because the critic was mostly exaggerating anyway. And instead of speaking to you in an abusive way, this new voice sounds more like a loving parent who wants the best for his child. It’s also acknowledges your wins and positive qualities on a regular basis.
4. The dangers of comparisons.
One of the most destructive ways we kill our self-confidence is when we compare ourselves to others and make the faulty assumption that we should already be somewhere other than wherever we are now.
Comparing ourselves to someone else doesn’t take into account how you and I have completely different life experiences, biology, genetics, etc.
Mark Twain once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” People don’t come out of the starting gate all in the same place. Comparing yourself to others prevents you from taking credit for your own journey and all that you have become based on your own set of circumstances.
And remember this, dear reader!
There has never been…nor will there ever be…in the history of the universe…a person who is even remotely close to who you are...or has seen the magnificent things you have seen...or has learned the wondrous things you have learned...or has lived the amazing life you have lived...or has become the extraordinary person you are becoming!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available onlineatstevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.