7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Inner Critic

I hope you’re having a great start to 2018!

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve this year at the Oregon Coast. We drove to the beach for the day, ran up a gigantic dune, which I was proud of myself for doing twice! Although my husband did it three times with Kai on his shoulders, while Kai cheered “Go daddy!” He’s a good cheerleader 😉

We watched the sunset as we reflected on the past year and set intentions for the time ahead, and then drove sleepily home in awe of the harvest moon. A good sign!

Here’s a picture from the day:

Today I want to talk about the one thing that shatters our confidence more than anything else, and ruins so many budding new relationships:

Our inner critic.

You know this voice — it’s the one that tells you that you’re not thin enough, that other people won’t like you, that men won’t be attracted to you, or that you shouldn’t bother giving something a go when you’ll fail at it.

We all have that not-so-quiet voice.

Sometimes it can be so debilitating that in order to keep you from failing, it keeps you from doing the very things that you actually need to do to get to where you want to go.

It can definitely wreak havoc on your dating life, and make you miserable once you’re in a relationship!

Here are 7 ways to make peace with your inner critic:

1. Create your own story

We cannot always control the things that happen in our life, but we can decide on the story we tell ourselves about it. For example, if you were broken up with in a harsh way and are having trouble moving on, you can focus on the blessing that the relationship ended sooner than later and you’re now free to be with someone who treats you better.

Think about how the relationship maybe wasn’t the right fit, and all the valuable lessons you learned from the experience. That way rather than focusing on your fear, you’ll boost yourself up and be prepared to meet someone new.

2. Become aware

One of the first steps to make peace with your inner critic is to become aware of it. Many of us are so used to pushing, striving and beating ourselves up, that we often don’t realize we’re even doing it. So notice when your thoughts start to spiral out of control.

If you suddenly drop into a depressed or anxious mood, ask yourself what you were just thinking? If it’s something like “Why even bother to date, no men will be attracted to me unless I lose weight” or “I shouldn’t bother going to that party, I’m just going to feel uncomfortable”, than that’s a sure sign that your inner critic has been running the show!

3. Have compassion

Research shows that it’s more effective to have compassion with your inner critic than to fight against it. Our inner critic is trying to be our friend. It wants to keep us from getting hurt or failing. The problem with that is it also keeps us from being our happiest or most successful selves. So when your inner critic shows up have some compassion for it. If you’re feeling worried you can say “thank you, I know that you’re trying to protect me, but I’m going to go for it.”

4. Create distance

Despite the importance we place on them, our thoughts are not necessarily the truth or even all that meaningful. One of the best ways to silence your inner critic is to create some distance. A simple yet powerful technique is noting. You literally note the thought you’re having.

You don’t do it in a forceful way where you’re trying to catch every thought, but rather, you do it very lightly. A thought goes through your head and you say “Ah, I’m feeling a bit of shame right now. That’s okay.” Noting gives you that wee bit of extra space between yourself and the thought you’re having.

5. Stop ruminating

When you make a mistake your inner critic wants to correct it. It may feel natural to replay the event over in your head to find a solution. But often the inner critic doesn’t focus on solutions; it focuses on feeling worse.

When you are ruminating, you literally have to remove yourself from the merry-go-round of worry. Notice what you can do for yourself in the present moment. Try sitting quietly and breathing with the discomfort, going for a walk, or talking to a friend.

6. Question it

Curiosity defeats fear. So when your inner critic comes up, start to question it. If it’s telling you that the guy you’re really into probably doesn’t like you, ask yourself if that’s actually true. Why would you think it’s true in the first place? Before jumping to any conclusions, start to question what appears as fact. Don’t believe everything that goes through your head without questioning it first.

7. Know Your Strengths

Focus on the good things about you. When the critical voice becomes louder than your wise inner voice, look for the good in yourself and your life. Sure, there is always more to improve on, but look at the areas you’ve mastered or have made huge strides in. Tell yourself about the unquestionable badass you are and all the love that exists around you, even if it’s hard to see at times.

Please don’t let your inner-critic run the show. You have gifts to share, love to give and receive, JOY to experience.

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