We all have an inner critic. That little voice that comes in and tells us “you’re not good enough”, “you don’t
deserve this”, “you’re going to screw this up”, or “if you say that then someone will judge you.”
The problem with the inner critic is that, more often than not, it works to prevent us from making our dreams a reality. It stops us from doing the things we really want to do. Generally, it sneaks in and tells us “You don’t deserve love and happiness”.
According to A Course in Miracles, this is totally bogus. All of those fears, doubts, worries, and inner judgements we have about ourselves aren’t actually real. It’s only an illusion because the only things in the Universe that are in fact real is perfect unconditional love.
Side note: A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a self-study curriculum that is spiritual in nature, which focuses on the idea that everything in the world and universe is ultimately connected as one. It also emphasizes forgiveness as a practical application in daily living. It is often referenced by famous authors such as Marianne Williamson and Gabrielle Bernstein. To learn more click here.
Though overcoming the inner critic can be a very long journey that we can experience our entire lives, there are ways to help deal with the inner critic and manage it so that it doesn’t overtake our lives. So here are 5 ways to kick your inner critic to the curb and give it much less of your time, energy, and attention.
Catch it when it strikes. Possibly the single most important thing to know when trying to give your inner critic less power is to be aware of it. If we are aware of it when it comes up then we are better able to recognize it for what it is and then replace the negative self-talk with something else. It may come up early in the morning with a comment of “Agh I look like shit today” . It may arise later at work you think “I’m totally going to screw up this assignment”. It may also come up while out with friends with a thought of “Gosh I can’t say that I want to leave now cause I’ll disappoint them and they’ll judge me.” It may come up when out shopping with the thought of “I really need to buy these pants. They’re so in right now and I need this to help maintain my image” or, in an opposite way, “I really want this but I can’t afford it. I can never afford that kind of thing.” Perhaps try to spend an entire day where you try to keep track of each critical thought as it comes up either with tallies or a counter. You can do whatever you prefer, but the main goal is to put forth the effort to be more aware of your inner critic when it starts talking.
Change the inner dialogue. It’s one thing to notice the inner critic, but we can’t fully conquer it through self-awareness alone. We have to replace it with something. So when the critic comes up and starts saying not-so-nice things about us, we have to be aware of it and then tell ourselves something else. So, for instance, if we have an inner critic that tells us “You can’t tell your friends that you want to go home so early. They will be disappointed and judge you. Whatever if you’re tired” then, instead, tell yourself, “I am true and honest with myself and others. The truth is that they are tired they deserve that truth.”
Self-Compliments. If your inner critic is coming up and telling you how ugly you are, how much weight you’ve gained, how selfish you are, that you don’t deserve that new car, or other yucky things, then give yourself a compliment. Ask yourself: What is the one thing I would like someone to tell me in this situation? Or if you can’t come up with anything, then ask: If I were a friend of me, what would I tell myself? Then give yourself that compliment – either in your mind or out loud.
Affirmations. Another way to give your inner critic less power and control of your life is to start doing affirmations. You may want to start your meditations with the words “I am…” or “I deserve…” You may also want to say them by stating your own name, like “Sally, you are empowered and deserve love”. My own personal rule of the thumb with affirmations is this: If when you say it you feel more open, relaxed, free, calm, compassion, or excitement then you’ve picked the right affirmation for yourself. You can do the affirmations either in the morning or evening. You could also try creating a poster of your favorite affirmation and put it on your wall for a daily visual reminder.
Meditation and Prayer. For me, prayer is huge – possibly even more than meditation, though I feel that both are equally important. When we meditate, we allow ourselves to calm the mind and give that inner critic much less time and attention. When we give the critic less attention then it takes away its energy to continue. Now, what I love about prayer is that it gives us the opportunity to reach out and “make up for” all the times when our inner critic still sneaks in even after we’ve done all the other things I’ve mentioned above. If after trying affirmations, self-awareness, self-compliments, and changing our inner dialogue and you still notice that darn inner critic popping up, then say a prayer. You can simply say “Dear Universe, please release me from these fears of judgement” or “God, please help me to be true to myself and others.” There is no right or wrong way to say it or to do the prayer itself. Do whatever you feel guided to do.
Finally, keep in mind that, even though more often than not the inner critic is up to no good, once in a while it is benefitting us. It may be the critic that is telling us to work hard on our project so we can succeed or telling us to really be consciously aware of our projections onto others. Be mindful and ask yourself, “Is what my inner critic is saying serving me or not?” and act accordingly.
Kick Your Inner Critic to the Curb Today!
Answer the following in your journal or share below:
What does your inner critic tell you?
How can you change your inner dialogue to better serve you?
What kind of compliments would you tell yourself in this situation?
What affirmations do you feel can best help you at this time?
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