Critical messages tend to turn on ourselves and says stuff like:
Maybe you have other versions of a critical voice inside your head?
Becoming self-critical can stop us from reaching our true potential. The critic freezes us in fear, attacks us for making mistakes, or judges others for their imperfections.
The Inner critic usually comes from a variety of sources of significant people in your life. Including, parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches. They may have had good intentions and genuinely want you to succeed.
Harsh criticism doesn’t really allow for authentic personal change. If it did, hey, I’d be perfect by now!
I’m reminded of my old soccer coach. He would shout, scream and push me and the team constantly.
We got so tired and scared of his reactions it seemed easier to avoid him, glare at him to ‘back off’ or occasionally fight back and tell him where to go!
I never thought I was good enough to become the next George Best (that’s how long ago I played!) and the coach constantly reminded me that I would never match up to his expectations. Needless to say, we struggled mid-table for most of his tenure.
If our critical voice resembles an abrasive coach screaming from the sidelines that constantly compares and judges, it’s not surprising that despondent feelings and negative moods takes over when all is not going too well.
It is, however, possible to reduce the critic’s influence.
I like this process from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that focuses on reducing the power of critical thoughts.
Separate yourself from the thoughts.
When your mind spews out its judgements take 3 slow deep breaths, step back and notice your thoughts as words or sounds in your head.
Naming and acknowledging will create some distance from getting caught up in the critical messages.
Silently, in your head saying something like ” aha, there’s my critic again,” You could literally give it a name such as ‘the Judge’, ‘the harsh coach’, or ‘Criticising’.
Reduce the power of the critical voice further by placing the thoughts into a different context.
These thoughts are just words or sounds. Sing them to a popular song, or nursery rhyme, in a silly voice. Imagine putting the words into a balloon, or writing them on a computer screen.
Instead of buying into its negative messages maybe you can live alongside the critic and begin to make more room for life enriching thoughts and ideas.
This takes practice, however the critic can become background noise if you pay enough attention to what you’re getting caught up with.