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Be Your Own Cheerleader (And Silence Your Inner Critic)

March 09, 2017 0 Comments

Be Your Own Cheerleader (And Silence Your Inner Critic)

When you wake up at 3am and your brain is doing that thing where it runs through all the things you should have done yesterday… what does that voice say to you? For the most part, that voice seems to be quite unpleasant and vindictive: you idiot, you should have… you’re so rubbish, why did you forget… you’re so lazy, you shouldn’t have…

That voice never tells you how well you’ve done, how brilliantly you handled that presentation earlier, how great it is that you made it to your child’s school on time. It doesn’t give a balanced view at all, does it?

Here’s the thing: if any of your friends or family spoke to you in the way that your inner critic does, you wouldn’t stand for it. You would defend yourself, give examples of all the great things you’ve accomplished. You would say no, you are wrong. But when the voice comes from within, we rarely argue with it. We allow it to have its say without question.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative thinking spiral of the inner critic: you’re too fat, too thin, too loud, too quiet, too pushy, too scruffy… the list is endless and once we allow it to begin its diatribe, it can run on for hours. This is where a mindfulness practice is incredibly useful, because regular time spent in meditation helps us to come to the life altering realisation, you are not your thoughts! Your inner critic is not you; you are the one listening to it!

What can we do then, to make that inner critic quieten down? Here are seven ideas:

    1. Talk back to it. You don’t have to talk out loud - in fact, that’s probably best avoided if you’re not alone! Whenever a critical thought comes up, challenge it. Ask yourself, is this really true? Often when we challenge these thoughts we are able to silence them by proving to ourselves that actually, we’re not rubbish/lazy/useless.

      Argue your corner as if a friend were accusing you of these things. The question, is this really true is great because it forces you to ask whether there is any substance to what is being said. It’s a great first response to any negative thoughts that pop up. 

    1. Replace it with a positive thought. Rather than think about the things you could have done better, get into the habit of celebrating what you’ve done well. Remind yourself regularly of all of your achievements, large and small. Have a list of these ready to reel off, should you need to. 

    1. Use mindfulness. We talk a lot about mindfulness, and that’s because it really is incredibly beneficial to everyday life. Mindfulness can help you to develop an awareness of your thoughts, so that you can detach yourself from them. When you’re watching them come and go, rather than getting caught up in them, it is much easier to just let your negative thoughts pass by without actually getting involved in them. 
      1. Distract yourself. Sometimes that voice just won’t stop talking! At times like that, the best thing can often be to just distract it with something else. Find a task that takes concentration and focus, so that your inner critic has to be quiet. A great distraction for this can be something like yoga or t’ai chi - especially if you are a beginner, as you have to really concentrate on the postures and movements. A 30-minute class can leave you feeling as if you’ve really rested your mind. 

      1. Commit to self improvement. If you stop and look at things with a balanced mind, you may concede that yes, on this occasion your inner critic may have a point. Perhaps you did leave it too late to meet that deadline, or perhaps you could have done things differently.

        Rather than beat yourself up about it, commit to ensuring it doesn’t happen next time. Look at how you can improve your responses and reactions so that if and when the situation arises again, you are able to do things differently. 

      1. Think of what your best friend would say. When your inner critic is busy telling you how rubbish you are or how badly you handled something, stop and ask yourself what your best friend would say. A best friend will always tell you if you’ve done something badly, but they won’t be mean about it. If necessary, talk to your friend and ask for their take on things. Use what they say to counter what your inner critic is saying. 
      1. Be your own cheerleader. Find a mantra that suits you, and whenever your inner dialogue turns nasty, repeat your mantra over and over again. This can be something as simple as “I can do this” or “I am confident and efficient.” Saying this to yourself over and over will drown out whatever negativity is coming up, and should help you to remain positive. 
      Your inner dialogue is hugely influential in not only your mood but also you confidence and how successful you are. The conversations you allow to go on in your head can either fuel your success or orchestrate your downfall. 
      Sometimes your inner critic may be right, and it can be useful in helping to identify areas for improvement but when that self talk becomes negative and harsh, it serves no constructive purpose. It can cause your performance to suffer in every area of your life. 
      It is so easy to let your inner dialogue to turn negative, and to allow it to run on for hours at a time, ripping your self esteem to shreds. It is important though to find ways to silence that inner critic and to be your own cheerleader. After all, if you don’t fight your corner, who else will?