One of the things that most often holds us back from following our dreams is criticism. From an early age, we were confronted with people telling us what was possible and what wasn’t; which dreams were “good” and which ones were “bad”; and why we could or couldn’t achieve our goals. And sadly at some point, no one had to tell us these things – we began telling ourselves these false beliefs. The outer critic turned into our inner critic and we confined ourselves in a comfort zone that was shaped by all that criticism.
None of that criticism was uttered to harm us; rather, it was done to protect us. But that intention was misguided and it’s time to start challenging all those beliefs that were poured into our heads when we were young. It’s time to quiet down that inner critic and to stop blindly believing the outer critics. That’s what we are going to dive into in this article.
Your Inner Critic
All of us have a voice in our head which on the one hand is our everyday stream of consciousness and on the other hand, is a collection of all the beliefs and expectations we have been met throughout our lives. This collection may serve us if those beliefs and expectations are empowering, but if they are full of doubts and negativity, they turn into our inner critic – that little voice that keeps telling us what we can’t do and why we will fail.
It’s a voice that we have learned to listen to when we grew up. And it’s a voice we should now unlearn to listen to. Of course, it’s good to reflect upon our choices and dreams and make informed decisions, but too often we overthink and give up before we have even tried because the voice in our head told us it’s impossible anyway.
Quieting down that inner critic is a process that takes time. You have been listening to it for such a long time, so you’re probably not going to switch it off from one day to the next. Be patient with and kind to yourself – and don’t give up!
How to Turn Off Your Inner Critic
The inner critic consists only of thoughts, and thoughts can be changed once you become aware of them. So the first step in overcoming your inner critic is to:
- Identify what your inner critic is telling you and write those statements down.
- Recognize where those beliefs come from. Who told you this? Your family? Your friends? Your teachers? Your culture?
- Describe how those beliefs have influenced your behaviour in the past.
- Rewrite those statements into positive ones and tell yourself those whenever your inner critic starts nagging you.
An example could be:
➖I’m not as good as everyone else.
✖️My teacher told me this when I was 6 years old.
✖️I’ve compared myself with others and hid.
➕I’m perfect at being me.
This will help you challenge the words of your inner critic and change your worldview into a more empowering one. If you keep telling yourself the positive versions of those statements, you’ll start to believe them.
To go one step further, gather evidence for those positive statements from the past and find ways to prove it for yourself in the future. So if we look at the statement above, find examples of what makes you unique and how that uniqueness is awesome and engage in activities that highlight your uniqueness further.
How to Turn On Your Inner Cheerleader
As you start gathering proof of your awesomeness, you’ll start to believe more and more in yourself and your abilities. Step by step your inner critic might even turn into your inner cheerleader instead.
To help this transition, you can practice some of the following:
- Make a list of 3 things you are grateful for/like about yourself every single day
- Ask friends to list your 3 greatest strengths
- Write an appreciation letter to yourself where you fill a whole page with nice things about yourself
Do these on a regular basis or whenever you need a little cheerleading. It’s not arrogant to love oneself, it’s sensible. So go all-in, Pirate! Know you’re enough! Don’t let anyone tell you something different – not even yourself! If you want to check out 5 sources of happiness, read on here!