Simple Tips to Tame your Inner Critic - Written by Helen Neary
Fed up of listening to your constant negative chatter in your head? Ready to stop over thinking and worrying all the time? Ready for your best version of yourself? Well read on! Here’s a true story that will help you do just that.
One of my clients, Sadie, came to me because she had really had enough of her habits of holding herself back. She was sick of talking herself out of doing things, saying things and not having the relationships she wanted. She wanted the best life for herself. Sadie said she was ready to get the confidence she wanted. She wanted to feel good about herself and her life. I was excited for her! I knew this was possible and that she was capable of this. It was time for her to learn how to embrace and love herself fully, just like I had myself and was now working with others to do the same.
We both started the coaching sessions full of optimism and dedication to the process of change. Sadie was committed to our sessions; she was punctual, she was willing to openly chat about her life, willing to consider making changes and set herself useful actions. As our sessions passed, I raised with Sadie how some of the actions she set, she didn't achieve. There were reasons why of course; Sadie was a busy woman; Sadie wasn't sure if they really were what she wanted to work on right now.
However, I wondered if the inner voice that we had worked on in previous sessions was still quietly nagging at Sadie that she wasn't good enough, that she really wasn't deserving of a better life. Sadie wasn't giving herself her full permission to change. Why? While Sadie had embraced many positive additional habits into her daily life and while she acknowledged that her inner critic had been a loud dominant voice for years and she was listening to her inner cheerleader more than ever before, Sadie was still listening to the inner critic too often. Sadie had yet to fully tame the inner critic.
This is when our sessions together started to become what I call “sticky” but where the real personal work begins. Sadie knew she'd made great progress because of her coaching experience and she recognised that things were much better since working with me. However, Sadie didn't 100% believe she was worthy of her dreams. We spent a couple of sessions discussing what Sadie really was thinking about what was possible for her. Sadie was willing to stay on track though but as usual she said phrases, I hear all the time; “you're going to think I'm crazy” “Oh I feel really embarrassed to say this”. “I can't believe I'm saying this out loud I must be a really bad person”. As always, I reassured Sadie that she was not alone. These feelings and thoughts are common in many of us. And some people never learn how to handle the inner critic. But I know from personal experience that the critic can be at least tamed if not silenced.
Tip 1 – Recognise the inner talk & forgive yourself for having an inner critic (we all do)
The inner critic is something we have as a survival mechanism if we didn't have it as a species, we wouldn't have survived on the planet along as we have. However in our modern living arrangements, we have an experience of threat, just by sitting comfortably at home and watching the news so we then listen too often to the negative voice and stop doing the very things that are good for us, for example, taking risks, doing things when the outcome isn’t fully known.
When Sadie realised that this was a primitive natural part of being human that every human had she began to forgive herself for criticising herself for being a warrior for being afraid over things that other people didn't fear. This was the start of the taming the inner critic, Sadie continued to blossom in our sessions every time we met; she was becoming the fuller version of Sadie. I loved seeing Sadie become the full version of Sadie.
Tip 2 – Add in your very own cheerleader voice
We discussed how an inner cheerleader is our true best friend and how we all deserve to have an inner cheerleader voice. But sometimes it's not enough to turn on the big light to rid the room of darkness so to speak. Sometimes we need to knock down the wall and put a window into the dark room. Then the natural light will just be there. This is a great metaphor for your mind and how much positive, optimism and compassion are habitually allowed in and to be heard. Think whose voice do you hear when you are encouraging yourself, is it a loved one like a parent, grand-parent or a best friend? It may be someone else, it could be your true wise self? Name your inner cheerleader and now listen for their words of kindness and support.
Tip 3 – Turn the volume down on the Critic!
Once she started to have more gentle and compassionate chat with herself, we then worked on the 2nd way of keeping that inner critic tame, we learned to turn the volume down on the inner critic literally but through visualisation. Sadie would visualise a knob on a radio and she'd hear the inner critics say one of its classic lines of you're not good enough and we would literally turn the volume down if Sadie said it was at about 6 out of 10 we turn the volume down to 1 so it was barely whisper and we do this in a visualisation exercise together then when it was at one and it was barely a whisper. We then worked on it again and Sadie would visualise her hand still on the knob twisting it down a little bit more making the voice mute. This exercise was so powerful for her in her day to day living she could do it practically anywhere and after a few tries and a queue before she had to do a job at work even while driving the car she learned very quickly to see an image and watch her hand turn the volume knob down so that it became mute the power Sadie felt was amazing!
Tip 4 – Turn up the volume on the Cheerleader!
Equally we then worked on turning the volume up on her inner cheerleader so that this was an easy to hear voice. Also to tune in to when the inner cheerleader is there with you – all the time! When in the day will you listen? Sadie decided that she would tune in every morning for the two minutes she brushed her teeth and really gave the cheerleader space to remind her of her worth, her strengths and to have a pep talk if something challenging was happening that day. Sadie adapted this exercise from that day on, and saw a noticeable shift in her confidence and outlook.
Another action for Sadie was to embed true compassion talk and kindness into every day. And I suggest the action for happiness website as an amazing resource for boosting our mindset and wellbeing. Have a look yourself: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/
Right from the outset I was confident that Sadie could have all she wanted, and she did get it! She tamed her inner critic and she truly believed she was worthy of a great life!
If you’re ready to feel the joy of self-acceptance and love, follow my Facebook page: Helen Neary Coaching – coach with many niches, go to my website: https://www.helennearycoaching.com/ and contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30 minute session to get you focused on being the best version of you.