Silence your inner critic? You would if you could, but sometimes it seems to have a mind of it’s own. Do you sometimes
- Feel not good enough?
- Believe everything you say sounds stupid?
- Before you even try you’re afraid of failing?
- Wonder why no one else seems to feel like that?
- Allow your inner critic to sabotage your goals?
- Feel that you’re in a cycle of negativity?
- Wonder what’s wrong with you?
Wish your inner critic would just shut the *£@!** up?
You’re not alone, self defeating thoughts affect every one of us some point and can be a major obstacle to achieving success. But how to silence it?
Just a Big Fat Pain in the A*@£*?
That inner critic is more than just a big fat pain in the ass, it hampers our happiness. A recent survey undertaken by the Berkeley Wellbeing institute http://www.berkeleywellbeing.com uncovered that how we feel about ourselves is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. When self talk is negative it wreaks havoc affecting self esteem, creating self doubt and shame. It also prevents us from achieving our goals. But why?
Silence Your Inner Critic: Neuroplasticity
What we focus on expands. Or, to be more scientific about it, the repeated use of synaptic connections over time literally shapes our brain. The more we use habitual patterns of thinking, the stronger those neural networks become. That’s why sometimes we get locked into patterns of negative thinking, making them our go to, our default, allowing the inner critic free reign to the extent that sometimes we barely even notice the monologue of negativity. Sound familiar?
Silence Your Inner Critic: The Shame Shut Down
What’s more, when we start to self shame and blame with our inner critic the learning centre of the brain begins to shut down. To silence your inner critic seems impossible. The amygdala (the flight, fight & freeze mechanism in the brain) releases cortisol and norepinephrine diverting our energy to the perceived threat rendering us pretty darn useless in the face of the inner critic. In these moments the thought that you could silence your inner critic seems impossible. Rest easy. The good news is you can use neuroplasticity to your advantage and literally rewire your brain. So let’s get started.
3 Steps to Silence Your Inner Critic
Develop Awareness: You can’t silence what you don’t notice so it’s importance to develop an awareness of your thoughts. One of the quickest ways to do this is to practice mindfulness. Check out our blogs and podcasts for some simple, free practices to get you started. Hey, you could even start with our mindfulness test on our resources page http://positivechangeguru.com/how-mindful-are-you/ and you’ll be arming yourself to silence your inner critic.
Challenge it: Once you’ve recognised the inner critic, learn to challenge it. Ask yourself if you would speak to a friend the same way and if you wouldn’t, isn’t it time to extend the same compassion to yourself? Look for evidence to prove the inner critic’s rhetoric is not true. Remind yourself of how completely and utterly awesome you are and remember all of the times that you succeeded (create a success list if you need to) so that you can smack down your inner critic with real life examples when you need to.
Learn to Fail: Take action, do something and see what happens but don’t expect perfection, in fact be willing to fail. Yes. We said the ‘F’ word. Your self defeating thinking will hate it but it’s the quickest route to mastery and the way that all human beings learn. As JK Rowling advised in her Harvard Commencement speech, ‘Embrace failure.’ It’s counterintuitive and your inner critic will do everything it can to force you to avoid it, but failure provides valuable information. Use it. Take a look at our growth mindset toolkit to find out more http://positivechangeguru.com/growth-mindset-toolkit/