You shouldn’t try that, you will fail. You didn’t get that job as they knew you were an imposter! You’re not cut out for a healthy relationship!
Do any of these voices sound familiar? These are NOT a reflection on your abilities but rather your inner critic, expressing its familiar rhetoric.
The beliefs we hold about ourselves will dictate the quality of our life. They are developed early on in our child hood years and can hold us back, despite our ability. Beliefs that led us to feel unfulfilled in work, to struggle in relationships and to live a life that was smaller that what we were capable of living, becomes our false reality.
It’s only when we discover our inner critic and understand what she is saying, that we can push against this and step into a new reality that is matching our ability and destiny.
Where does the Inner Critic come from?
The critical inner voice is formed from painful early life experiences toward us or those close to us. As we grow up, we unconsciously adopt and integrate this pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others. We develop these voices from child hood parents, school, jobs we become aware of other people’s expectations around us and build ceilings on ourselves creating beliefs about our limits and who we should be.
When we fail to identify and separate from this inner critic, we allow it to impact our behaviour and shape the direction of our lives. It may sabotage our successes or our relationships, preventing us from living the lives we want to lead and becoming the people we seek to be.
It’s those voices, that push for perfect like the Muppets on the balcony critiquing everything against an impossible ideal.
Why are they bad?
The hold us up to impossible ideals that we can never quite attain. They lead to low feelings of self confidence and negative beliefs about ourselves. Most of us aren’t aware of them and they are responsible for the majority of choices we make in life – what we believe we deserve, who we believe we deserve and so on.
In a study performed at Dartmouth College, an ugly scar was drawn on students faces with makeup. Their task was to have a conversation and then report how others reacted to them with this ugly scar. But here is the twist. Just before they left, the experimenter said, “Hang on! We just want to touch up your scar a bit.” What they did though, was rather than add to the scar, they removed it entirely. So unbeknownst to them, the students conducted these conversations, looking normal and like their original scarless selves. Despite this, they came back and reported how embarrassing and shameful their conversations were, how people went out of their way to avoid looking at their scar, couldn’t make much eye contact, and were clearly uncomfortable in their presence.
These unfounded beliefs about their scar led them to see things that weren’t really there and to make meaning of innocent behavior. What could have been a perfectly normal conversation instead became an awkward one. Their beliefs created their reality.
So how can you be the narrator of your story and overcome the inner critic?
7 ways to overcome your inner critic
- Observation – Calm witnessing vs embodying
- Label it – Mrs Doubtfire. Its outside of you.
- Use Positive Affirmations
- Practice Mindfulness
- Establish a Meditation Practice
- Activate lots of small good experiences
- Develop your Caring Committee
Observation – Calm witnessing
Thich Nhat Hanh – Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk and peace activist said, ‘if we have an energy within us that we wish to transform, need to take care of it vs battle with it’. As painful as the voice may be, the easiest way to stand apart and not in the judgement, is to observe. By standing by and noticing what its saying, with no judgement placed on it, we are not embodying the beliefs it is saying. Rather, we are calmly witnessing it. This practice of bearing witness is the most potent thing we can do to de -power it.
How do we learn to dance with our internal critic and BE THE NARRATOR OF OUR OWN STORY?
Consider how self-critical attitudes developed inside you, perhaps when you were younger. When you’re mindful of your inner dialogue, you might notice there’s something familiar about the words, tone or attitude in the self-criticism. Does it remind you of anyone — a parent, sibling, relative, teacher, coach? By listening to yourself, you can hear the dogmatism, harshness and absurdity in much of what the inner critic has to say.
Stepping back from the criticism to observe it can stop reinforcing it and help you dis-identify from it: In other words, you may hear it, but you don’t need to be it. This kind of calm witnessing can make the voice of your inner critic less intense and more reasonable.
Labelling it diminishes it
You weaken your voice by labelling them and letting them go.A great way to dis identify from this voice is to label it. Everytime you hear it speaking you acknowledge it – ‘oh there you are Mrs Doubtfire’! Observe what happens when you do this. Another great reminder, is that it’s just a constellation of thoughts, it’s not you.
Teach the inner critic new things to say by practising daily positive affirmations. These are simply positive statements that enable you to overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. The trick is to repeat them daily, and believe in them. That way you are creating more positive neural pathways in your brain. Your brain will believe anything you tell it often enough. They are short and hold some meaning for you. Here are a few you could try on for size
- – I don’t sweat the small stuff
- – The world has my back
- – I believe in my strength
- – Today, I am overflowing with joy.
– My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.
– I am loved
- – Today, I release my old habits and take up new, more positive ones.
- – I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.
- – My life is just beginning – the best is yet to come
By mastering the ability to focus your awareness, you we are cultivating an internal strength or resiliency reserve for difficult moments.In a recent study Norman Farb aat the University of Toronto published a study that showed how practicing mindfulness meditation reduced activity in the part of the brain associated with a wandering and critical mind. This was also correlated with lower scores on the Beck Depression Inventory compared with a group who wasn’t practicing mindfulness. If you are interested in exploring mindfulness, and have stayed with us at one of our Bali retreats before or completed a virtual retreat with us, we invite you to join the Inner Circle here. Here we deep dive into useful tools like mindfulness every month. Tools that help us increase the quality of our lives and make better choices that help us reach our dreams and goals with ease and success.
It allows you to strengthen your awareness muscle and to gain strength by being vs doing. By knowing who you are and feeling grounded. When you are grounded you are in a much better place to deal with this. If you would like to experience some guided meditation classes with us, check out our Live online classes streamed from our Bali Retreat in our Class Pass or on our You Tube here.
Activate good experiences
The brain has a negativity bias – its great at learning from bad experiences but not good at learning from positive ones so good things bounce off and things like failure or heart break stick. Bad experiences sink in. To help create more positive moments that sink in, think of a good thing that happened, it doesn’t need to be big. When you have this, continue to think about how it made you feel, magnify the experience and you will start to absorb it. This moves things from concepts through to embodied experiences. Do that frequently and you will build up your long term memory bank of positive experiences.
Imagine you have a caring committee. Who would they be? Those people that you feel unconditional love from? What would they say about the voice in your head? How would that counter those voices? Keep countering them and then you will start to believe the new positive narration too.
What would life be like if you reclaimed your true self that you have forgotten? It’s time for you to remember the special, unique and wonderful being that you are. Enjoy dancing with your inner critic and controlling the narrative so it can enable you to live the life you imagined.
If you would like us to support you on your journey, make sure you check out our virtual retreat programmes here that have been designed to enable women to live the life they were destined for.
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We invite you to experience our award-winning Bali retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitnessclasses and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.