How loud is your inner critic these days?
Our inner critic is the part of us that judges or criticizes us. It broadcasts our mistakes and says, “See? You’re not good enough!”
When we are under pressure or feeling down, our inner critic can get so loud that it drowns out all the other parts of us. The result? Lots of negative self-talk, meaning that we are too focused on our mistakes or the ways in which we are lacking.
If you catch yourself giving too strong a voice to your inner critic, then it is time for a self-compassion reboot. Here are 4 tips to turn your inner critic into your inner cheerleader!
Tip #1: Think about the “flip side” of the things you judge yourself for
All human traits have a positive side and a negative side. For example, if you are someone who takes initiative, then you may think of yourself as bossy. But with the right amount of delegating and mentoring, taking initiative is a marker of strong leadership.
Another example: If you care a lot about other people, you might judge yourself as a people pleaser. But with appropriate boundaries, caring for others makes you a kind and compassionate person.
Most traits that we perceive as negative can be flipped into personal strengths. Remind your inner critic of that next time it is picking at your flaws!
Tip #2: Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a best friend
Most of us give ourselves a lot less grace than we give others. Try giving yourself the same advice and encouragement you would give a best friend, if they were in your shoes.
If your best friend just started a job and made a mistake at work, you would probably tell them: You just started and you are learning a whole new job! It is normal to make mistakes, and I know you work hard and will get better as you go.
Now, tell yourself those same things!
When we talk to our friends, we are most likely to recognize that their actions and feelings are understandable given their contexts. But when we talk to ourselves, we tend to attribute similar actions and feelings to personality flaws. Using this “best friend exercise,” we can practice self-compassion by remembering that our actions and feelings are reasonable given our circumstances.
Tip #3: Build affirmations into your daily life
Okay, we’ll admit it - affirmations can be a bit cheesy. But there is a reason why they are so often recommended!
Daily affirmations build on the power of repetition. Our brains learn best through repetition, just like muscle tone is built through frequent exercise. With enough practice, daily affirmations will build up your “self-compassion muscle” so that your “inner cheerleader” becomes second nature to you.
To choose a daily affirmation, think about your mental health needs and the direction you are trying to go in. Then, read through some lists of affirmations like this one from VeryWell Health to find something that resonates with your experience. Don’t hesitate to edit or even make up your own affirmation, according to what feels best to you!
After you have chosen an affirmation, write it down and display it in a few places where it will catch your eye throughout the day. Recite your affirmation to yourself when you are feeling dysregulated or stressed, and when you are practicing relaxation skills like deep breathing.
Over time, you will feel that power of repetition as you get more used to thinking of yourself in light of the affirmation you selected!
So to recap…
Here are 3 tips for empowering your “inner cheerleader”:
Think about the “flip side” of the things you judge yourself for, remembering that every negative trait can become a positive strength
Practice talking to yourself like you’d talk to a best friend
Build affirmations into your daily life
As always, we at Embolden Counseling are here to support you along your mental health journey. If your inner critic has been too vocal lately, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our therapists! We will be honored to support you on a path to greater self-compassion and self-love.