Your Inner Critic And How To Shut It Up
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
I have a really good relationship with my Inner Critic. We speak almost every day. Well, it mainly talks to me and I try to ignore it. So that got me thinking, how do I deal with this negative voice in my head that keeps telling me I am not good enough?
March 2020 I came to Australia. I wanted, no I needed, to experience the lifestyle I had always dreamed of. Back in The Netherlands, I had it pretty well sorted. Had an awesome job in a hospital that I was very proud of, I bought my own house, had loving people, family, and friends around me. I spent my spare time with my dog and horse, went rock climbing with friends, and really, whatever I felt doing. I felt pretty confident in everything I did.
But then, I followed my dream...
Travelling to Australia and experiencing the country lifestyle.
I had to do so, so, so many things out of my comfort zone. Being in a different country, speaking a second language, and discovering a new culture kind of made me feel like I was starting over. For me, it felt like being in a game. I finished my Dutch level, now I was going to another level, Going to Australia. Crikey, this new level was, and sometimes still is, very challenging.
If you are going to fool yourself and believe the irrational negative thoughts, stop! Please positively fool yourself and make yourself believe in the positive thoughts!
Our Inner Critic (I even give it capital letters) is created by someone. This someone would be you. It happens to all of us. To understand the emergence of the Inner Critic we have to go back to your childhood. Can you remember those years, you were, let's say, four years old. You sucked at drawing but everyone loved it. You were a drawing superstar. But after a few more drawings, mum or dad...or your too honest aunt happens to comment that you didn't color within the lines. Hmm, so you are not as perfect as you thought. Bummer! Well, let's try better next time.
And that's where it all starts. Now you know who to blame. Nah, kidding, it is still you. Because we can't help but interpret a lot of things personally and negatively. The fact that someone, at some stage, will comment on your coloring within the lines is kind of a good thing. That makes us grow. But growing can make us anxious. The anxiety of doing it wrong and not being good enough. This creates your Inner Critic.
Comparison - The roots of all evil
If your Inner Critic points out some of your beliefs like "I'm not good enough," "I shouldn't be this lazy," "I need to achieve more," what are these beliefs based on? We can only have these thoughts if we compare ourselves with the people around us. Subconsciously, this will set your bar for your own self-image. And the tricky part is, we enlarge the qualities of other people but we enlarge our own flaws.
What comes around the corner is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the smallest thing happens and your Inner Critic has been very active, you will connect the dots. Your belief of "I am not good enough" and you don't get the job you applied for, confirms your Inner Critic. "I am not fun enough," and your friend cancels your coffee appointment, this again confirms your Inner Critic. However, this is not realistic and there are numerous reasons why these things happen.
That being said, I too have done this a lot since I have been in Australia. I was doing so many things that were new to me so I felt I sucked at everything. I went through a stage that I truly believed I wasn't capable of anything anymore. The worst part, my old beliefs were coming back, those of not feeling good enough, of being a slow learner and a burden to the people around me. Especially because I compared myself with Australians in the bush that had been there and doing that kind of work all their lives, my Inner Critic believe "I am a slow learner" got a lot of confirmation during that time.
It came to a point where I thought, this is not fair on me or the people around me. Believe me, I can become very cranky in dealing with my Inner Critic.
So how do we shut up your Inner Critic?
Listen to your Inner Critic. Yes, this can feel like an annoying answer. But your Inner Critic is there to help you as well. We have to try and listen to what it is trying to tell you. Instead of thinking it's all negative and talking you down, maybe there is something you can learn from it. I am not naturally skilled at practical things. Hand me tools and machinery and it can become dangerous. It annoyed the crap out of me not to be able to do the smallest tasks ("I am a slow learner") and I felt like a toddler. But knowing I was that bad, I realised I can become better pretty quick. That is one of the advantages of being really bad at things, you see results pretty quickly. And when I shifted from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset I started enjoying the journey of learning! And when you know you are a slow learner, you also know you can take your time to learn, so don't feel stressed.
Train yourself to question your Inner Critic. Before you adopt everything your Inner Critic tells you, train yourself to question it. Where does this comment come from? What is this belief based on? Is it true? (Do you really suck at everything? I bet that's not true!) Are these thoughts helpful and can I learn from them? Or is this just me, talking down on myself? What if I want to prove my Inner Critic wrong? What can I do to change its mind? Your Inner Critic is sometimes not only your voice. Sometimes it's based on something your parents said, your teacher from high school, or those weird friends you had during that dodgy time in your life. Question your Inner Critic on its truthfulness, and you will see its thoughts are not realistic.
What happens when you receive ten compliments and one negative comment about your work? All your focus goes to that one negative comment. Why do we believe the negative comments are true and the compliments aren't? The compliments are just because people are trying to be nice, or they don't know better? If you are going to fool yourself and only believe in the negative, stop! Please positively fool yourself! Maybe the blogs that I write aren't that great, but hey! Who's judging. Oh wait, that's me and my Inner Critic. Well, we don't really know the statistics and how great or not this blog is, so I decide to be pretty happy with it! I'll be fooling myself one way or another because when things are based on opinions there is no correct answer. So I rather vote in favor of myself! This does not mean I am not open to learning opportunities or feedback. I am just learning to be more positive and this will make me even more open to improvement!
By now you are getting to know me and you know I preach about being kind. Being kind to the people around you, animals, nature, but don't forget about yourself. If your Inner Critic starts criticizing again, listen, question it, and take action. If you can learn something, go for it. Otherwise, acknowledge that it's not the reality and be kind to yourself. You're doing amazing!
My time in Australia is great! Of course, I have my moments of self-doubt when my Inner Critic dominates. Although now, I accept that I may not be good at things I have never done before and I embrace the new opportunities to learn. It is still the best choice I have ever made. I have learned a lot about myself and being here has also shown me the things I am good at. It has opened so many new doors, I can't wait to see what's on the other side!