Five Ways to Zap Your Inner Critic
Do you ever beat yourself up, wishing you’d acted differently in ‘the moment’? You play the ‘scene’ over and over again in your head, berating yourself and obsessing over every detail. We’ve all been there. Negative self-talk zaps our self-confidence. And it’s exhausting.
I recently interviewed Mark Coleman, author of Make Peace with Your Mind, on the Untangle Podcast from Meditation Studio. Mark says that this unwelcome inner critic attacks our sense of self-worth, making us feel that we’re never good enough.
Even worse, our inner critic can be quite pushy, forcing us to compare ourselves to others and highlighting our deficiencies instead of spotlighting our positive qualities. It’s an endless cycle.
Mark makes a number of suggestions that can help us break some of these patterns and shake off the inner critic.
Meditation: Mindfulness practices help us to shine a light on our inner experience. With meditation, for example, we pay attention to our thoughts and can notice if they are negative and if so, have the presence to shift the power away from the negative voice.
Compassion: Self-compassion enables us to be more loving and kind with ourselves. We learn that we’re not our thoughts and can then step back and ask ourselves questions like, Is this who I really am? Is this thought really making me happy? With self-compassion, we forgive ourselves more readily (as we would our best friend or child).
Self-inquiry: When you hear that negative voice, ask yourself, Is this really true or is it just a point of view that’s not really accurate? This step puts some separation between you and the negative voice so you don’t react too quickly or take it too seriously.
Laugh: When you hear that voice in your head, step back and laugh at yourself. Mark says that when we recognize how crazy our inner critic can be for telling us what to do and then judging us so harshly, we can have a sense of lightness about the (sometimes) craziness of even our own mind.
Loving Kindness: This practice suggests that we wish ourselves well, to be happy and to thrive. It shifts our focus from that voice that tells us we’re not good enough to a more positive, loving voice.