Three Ways to Quiet the “Internal Critic.”
Updated: Mar 8, 2018
"When writing the story of your life don’t let anyone else hold the pen…" Harley Davison
We all have that inner voice that has the power to encourage us to achieve and that tells us we can make it. That inner voice can even tell us we will fail and in our minds this is enough to confirm that belief.
This voice can be helpful when we are going for that last pull up or running that extra mile. That voice may say “One more push-up” or “You got this!” or “I know your legs are burning but it is just one more mile….you can do it! No matter what you can make it!” This voice brings into focus all of the hard work that proceeded the obstacle that is in front of us. It take may take two strokes off of your game of golf. I may help you to make that game winning shot with five seconds on the board. Likewise, some voices are not so helpful. It may say “Do you really believe that you can start your own business at your age? You remember when you tried that last time and look what happened? This is a very interesting phenomenon of the human mind. Where do these negative beliefs come from? Why are they so influential and pervasive over our thoughts and behavior? What is the origin of these false premises that lead us into an irrational conclusion about our own capabilities?
Most of these thoughts are based off of fear. It becomes that much more challenging when we get that bill in the mail, a call from a collection agency, and an added hospital expense. It would be easy to stick your head in the ground like an ostrich and “hope” that the problem will vanish away dismissing the rest of you that is exposed above ground.
The upshot? There are more practical ways of combating this faulty belief system!
Do the Opposite
Your greatest first step is in dispelling the irrational belief by proving and doing the opposite. For example, if the voice is telling you that you are a “failure” this negative voice is speaking to a quality of your character not a single act. Therefore, it cannot be true that you fail at everything…. all the time! Small things like choosing to get up in the morning and facing the day is a success in itself. Consciously bringing into memory and doing the things that you have been successful at is a powerful tool of disregarding this untruth about your character. There may have been things that you have failed at but this does not make you a failure!
Journaling the trials and tribulation that you have experienced goes a long way in quieting that inner critic. Ask yourself, "How have I managed to make it through these difficulties?" Take a few moments to really be with that. As you ponder this question, you might just discover the reality that just simply believing in yourself is a tremendous start to changing things in your life, today, and actuating the vision that you have for your future. The problem lies when we do not couple the cognitive belief/thoughts with consistency.
Changing our circumstances takes hard work. There is no other way of getting around it. Practice putting what you want on paper as a goal both long and short term and make small incremental steps towards those goals. Most people know exactly what they don't want but they give less time to being clear and specific about what they do want. Make a list of what you do want, be clear and specific and review of these goals as a part of your daily life. If your goal is getting the partner of your dreams, then ask yourself what you're doing in your life to attract your ideal partner? You have to be a student of the game and learn every aspect of what it takes to be successful. Years ago I worked with an African American youth who was told by his mother that he was not going to amount to anything, just like his father. This belief had been so ingrained in his psyche that he began to fulfill this prophecy. I challenged him on his faulty beliefs about himself and the world and his willingness to confront the internal critic who happened to actually be the voice of his mother, not himself. Together, we wrote out a plan of action to attain the vision that he saw for himself without his mother's own internal beliefs. It worked powerfully! One of the highlights of my career was to see this young man walk across the stage with his cap and gown on college graduation day. Was it hard work? Absolutely! However, where there is set back there is deep-seated reward that is worth every penny.
Life comes with challenges. Remember to celebrate the small successes, reframe the problems as challenges, believe in yourself and have a backup plan when things do not go as expected - these are essential in your life journey.