It’s bad enough to be anxious or depressed. But what makes the emotional pain so much worse, is that we can’t just accept what is going on inside our minds. We have to criticize ourselves for being afraid, angry, and jealous and so on. That’s what really makes us feel bad, So I’m going to give you some tips on how to silence your inner critic.
Let’s say something went wrong at work. One of your clients decided to go with another firm and you feel directly affected. It’s one thing to get over the loss of business. It means loss of income, loss of contacts, loss of reputation.
It wouldn’t be so bad to just let it go and be done with it.
But that’s usually not the end of the story. We start to feel that we should have known that they weren’t happy. That it’s something we did wrong, and it’s solely our responsibility. We should have done this to prevent their leaving, and that to find a quick replacement. Anytime there’s a “should have, could have, would have” message in our minds, it’s the voice of our inner critic.
We come down hard on ourselves and cannot possibly forgive ourselves for not reading other people’s minds, or for making a mistake. It’s human nature to make mistakes; it’s just the way we’re wired. All we can hope to do is learn from our mistakes so we don’t make the same ones over and over again.
We give ourselves messages like, “if only I were smarter, more astute, more creative, etc. it would have been better. In other situations, we may tell ourselves “if only, I were more likeable, prettier, easier to get along with, or…………… (fill in the blank), I would be happier, or more successful.” We need to begin to pay attention to the “if only” messages and recognize them for what they are, beliefs as opposed to truth.
How to silence our inner critic? Develop self-compassion.
We need to look at ourselves with the benevolence and understanding we would offer a child or a good friend. “Don’t worry so much”, we could say to ourselves. “You did everything you could; talked to everyone you could and made a big effort to make the client happy. Sometimes we can’t control all the factors, and I can’t know all the ins and outs of why they left our company.”
It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of someone who will talk you down from your self- blame and relentless criticism.
And using self –compassion is not just a psychological tool. There are actual studies that have shown just how positive an effect it has.
The new research concludes that self-compassion leads to “significant positive association with self-reported measures of happiness, optimism, positive affect, wisdom, personal initiative, curiosity and exploration, agreeableness, extroversion, and conscientiousness.”
If we can silence the voice of our inner critic, our whole self- image improves. We can cut down on stress and fear which leads to better sleep, more healthy relationships and greater success in the world.
Or, in scientific terms: “Self-compassion predicted significant variance in positive psychological health beyond that attributable to personality.”
If you are a forgiving person, start with yourself. Give yourself a break; you will definitely feel better. If you’re not a forgiving person, the best place to start learning forgiveness is with yourself. Let kindness and gentleness toward yourself become your new mantra!
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