The inner critic is a real shit-starter
How many times have you heard this asshole in your head:
- you can’t do that
- who do you think you are
- ohmygawd you’re an idiot
- you’re not that pretty
- you’re not that smart
- you’re for SURE not that brave
- you need to loose some weight
- don’t tell anyone your fears or secrets (you moron)
- this good luck won’t last, get ready
- you’ll never be successful
- you’ll never get married
- you’ll never feel happy
If you’re anything like me, you heard it LOUD AND CLEAR when you saw a really cute guy and wanted to go talk to him but that little jerk in your head pops up and says “don’t be silly, he’d never talk to you.”
Or that time that you thought you might be able to start a business, you get all pumped up and BOOM that shit-talker pipes up with “ummm, why on Earth would you even attempt this, you don’t know the first thing about starting a business. And it’ll probably fail anyway so just save yourself the trouble and quit with this fantasy now. mmkay.”
How ’bout the at the exact moment you look in the mirror and think “all this hard work in the gym is really paying off” and in an INSTANT the critic fires back with “except your thighs – honey you’ve got a long way to go. And while we’re on the topic, can we talk about the lines on your face. It looks like a damn road map.”
Your “inner critic” gives you thoughts that are negative, limiting, and can kill your confidence. It’s ESPECIALLY dangerous when you start to believe the thoughts. Wikipedia explains the the IC as the voice that makes you feel “bad, wrong, inadequate, and worthless” – YIKES!
Really these thoughts are just fears. Martha Beck explains it in her book Steering by Starlight.
“The entire purpose of your reptile brain is to continually broadcast survival fears- alarm reactions that keep animals alive in the wild. These fears fall into two different categories: lack, and attack. On one hand, our reptile brains are convinced that we lack everything we need: we don’t have enough time, money, everything. On the other hand, something terrible is about to happen. A predator– human or animal–is poised to snatch us! That makes sense if we’re hiding in a cave somewhere, but when we’re home in bed, our imaginations can fixate on catastrophes that are so vague and hard to ward off that they fill us with anxiety that has no clear action implication.”
Fears are shit-starters.
I’ve named my inner-shit-talker-critic-asshole The Snake. I HATE SNAKES. They are slimy little bastards that slither around, mostly out of sight, until they slide out and scare the crap out of you. Some of them are harmless (unless you count the heart attack they give me when I see them) and some are down-right deadly. I prefer to stay nine-million-miles away from ALL of them because they scare me, they provide no value in my life and…they’re gross.
The inner critic acts in almost the exact same fashion as a snake and the mere thought of a snake makes me want to crawl right out of my skin. Remember when I said that snakes provide no value in my life? The Snake provides no value in my life either. So lets get rid of them, shall we.
4 Steps To Overcome The Inner Critic Thoughts In Your Head
Step 1: Name It.
I highly recommend you give your inner critic (aka: shit-starter) a name. For real. It’s actually easier to remove the thoughts from your natural pattern once you’ve identified it. By calling my critic “The Snake” I have a visual representation of what I’m trying to remove from my life that does not serve me. Lets be honest, when I equate my critic’s thoughts to a “slimy little bastard” it’s much easier to not want them around, right?!
Step 2: Listen.
As strange as this may sound, we actually create justifications to keep these phrases on a loop in our head. That’s ludicrous! Generally we keep these statements fresh and on-the-ready because we’ve never actually identified what they are saying. You can’t control something you don’t recognize. You feel me?!
Start with a brain dump. Every time you hear The Snake slithering around in your head giving you reasons to doubt yourself or filling you with fear, write it down. Here are some questions to get you started. Fill in the blank with the very first thing that comes to mind.
Oh no! I don’t have enough__________
If I don’t watch out, someone will__________
People want to take my__________
I can’t be perfectly happy until I get__________
Everybody pressures me to__________
You just can’t trust__________
People will hurt me unless I__________
If only I had__________
Someone’s always out to__________
I must hang onto__________
And my all-time favorite: Of course I need to be __________ otherwise people will __________.
Step 3: Evaluate.
Take a look at what you just wrote down.
- Are you REALLY going to end up in a cold, windowless room with no friends if you leave your marriage?
- Is it REALLY feasible to think that you can’t open up and be yourself because everyone is going to hate you and judge you and never talk to you again?
- Is everyone REALLY out to hurt or take everything away from you that is good in your life?
Likely not. Don’t get me wrong, fear is fear and it’s very real until we can get ahold of it so I’m not making light of the fears you have, but I DO want you to look at them curiously and ask if this statement is true. If you called up 5 people and told them the fear(s) you have would they 100% agree with you? If not, then there IS an alternate thought available.
Step 4: The Shift.
Now that you hear what The Snake is saying to you and you’ve been able to take some time to look at those thoughts and see their destructive power, it’s time to do something about it because, lets face it, NOBODY wants to feel like shit, we want to be brave, empowered and confident women!
The Shift happens when you take those negative, self-defeating statements and simply shift the focus.
Lets say my Snake’s thought has been (and it has!) “You couldn’t possibly turn in this work because it’s not perfect. If you do, your boss will think you are an idiot and you don’t care about your job, in fact you’ll probably get fired right there on the spot.”
What I think is: I need to be perfect otherwise people will judge me.
Now, the easy thing to do would be to just start thinking “I’m not a perfectionist and nobody judges me” but that would be pretty damn difficult to believe right away and frankly, you’d slip right back into the old habit quickly.
You can’t just flip a switch and all the sudden not believe what you’ve believed for years. It’s not that simple. This takes time. So instead find a shifted thought that is less negative and more empowering to replace that critic’s thought.
The brain likes to be efficient so if you give it new thoughts to think, even just slightly shifted from the negative chatter you’ve got going on, it will start to recognize The Snake much faster and you can lean on the new thought(s) to ease the pressure and stress. Which, BTW is also a waaaaaaay better option since you’re not talking mad shit to yourself and who doesn’t like that option!
What if instead of the deep rooted path that I’ve dug in my brain to tell myself “I MUST be perfect” I said something like
- “this isn’t quite perfect but it IS excellent”, or even
- “I’m exploring the idea of things not being perfect but being good enough because I know I’m doing my best”
The new thought doesn’t have to be radically different from where you’re at now. In fact, it shouldn’t be otherwise you won’t truly connect with it. Start small. Notice the chatter, evaluate what it’s saying. Is this a fact that could be proven in a court of law, or are you just making it up because of fear or pain? How can you slightly shift the message to something that makes you feel more powerful and confident?
You can do this! Change your thoughts and change your LIFE.
Comment below and tell me, do you have a Snake? What’s it’s name?!
What does your Snake say? How does it make you feel?
What small shift could you make to that thought to help you feel less frustration, anger, pain or disappointment?
How does that thought feel? Better?!