It doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved, how successful or beautiful you are, or how hard you’ve worked to increase your self-esteem and self-confidence: if you have a nasty negative inner critic who constantly criticizes you or dismisses your achievements at all times, your self-esteem will always be low.
Your inner critic has many functions. It is that negative inner voice that:
1- He blames you for things that go wrong, regardless of whether it is your fault or not.
2- Compares you with others, especially with your achievements and abilities, and considers you insufficient.
3- Set impossible standards of perfection.
4- Demands that you be the best at everything and, if you’re not, treats you as if you were nothing.
5- Keep track of your failures and flaws, but never remind you of your many achievements and strengths.
6- Exaggerate your weaknesses using words like “always” and “never”. You always screw up at work. You never finish what you start.
Most of us experience the inner critic as the “voice” in our head, and most of the time we are unaware that it is there. Usually, we only “hear” our inner critic loud and clear when we are about to try something new, when we make a mistake, or when we are under stress.
When you make a mistake, you may hear your inner critic say something like “But you’re going to be stupid!” or “Here you are again, screwing up as usual. Can’t you do anything right?”
Before giving a presentation at work, you may hear, “You should have prepared more. You’re going to make a fool of yourself in front of all these people.”
Have you ever experienced it?
The first step is to start being aware of your inner critic and what it tells you. The hard part is that even when you become aware of your inner critic, it seems like a natural and familiar part of you, and its ruthless attacks seem reasonable and justified.
With every negative judgment, your inner critic weakens you and destroys any positive feelings you have about yourself. Your inner critic often comes through as your own voice, and it can feel like it’s just your thoughts playing games with you.
But make no mistake. You were not born with an inner critic. It was programmed into you, unconsciously, in your early childhood and you have transferred it to your adult life.
There are several techniques to silence our inner critic by learning to love and respect ourselves.
One of the most powerful ways to silence your inner critic is to speak back literally.
You may feel uncomfortable when you respond to your inner critic, but just as you shouldn’t let another person mistreat you, you can’t allow your inner critic to wear down your self-esteem.
The mirror technique
Here is a simple and fun exercise to help overcome perfectionism. Take a post-it and write the phrase “I am enough” on the mirror in your bathroom, in your room, in your diary, on your mobile screen. Over time, looking at this phrase repeatedly will condition your mind to believe that you are enough…enough to be loved and accepted just the way you are.
When your critical inner voice comes up, after you silence it, think about what you would say to your best friend if she had those critical thoughts about herself. Now say it out loud and let it sink in. Thank yourself, knowing that you are doing the best you can right now.
Keep doing this until this warm, nurturing voice is louder than your inner critic.
Don’t let others demand perfection from you either.
If you’re with someone who constantly complains that you don’t get things done or that you never do enough, realize that that person is the one with the problem. This person is never going to be happy no matter what you do.
Get in touch with your dark side
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean doing anything wrong, morally wrong, or evil. It simply means that you know that, like every human being, you have more positive qualities than others, light and dark, as dual beings that we are. The important thing is to accept it and work to improve these qualities.
- List all the qualities you dislike in others.
- List the 5 qualities you dislike about yourself.
allow yourself to be imperfect
Pay close attention to how often you control and censor yourself and how intensely you focus on being “good” and “perfect.” Learn to be flexible with yourself.
– If you are a workaholic, get away from work early or take a day off and go do something fun.
– If you are a health freak, allow yourself one treat a week. Maybe you buy the chocolate you’re craving or eat something you’re craving that isn’t on your diet plan.
– If you constantly control what you spend, loosen up a little from time to time and treat yourself from time to time.
And most importantly, if you’re always cheerful and sweet on the outside, even when you don’t feel that way on the inside, start letting people know how you really feel.
You don’t have to be perfect to be lovable. You don’t have to be perfect to be an amazing, strong and successful person.
So stop trying to be perfect and start embracing and accepting yourself, both your flaws and your positive attributes. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on, instead of obsessing over it.
Equally important, don’t let anyone else constantly dwell on your mistakes or demand perfection from you.