Our inner critic can often be our biggest downfall when it comes to self-confidence and our general happiness. In front of others, many find it easy to put on the façade of self-acceptance or to feign confidence in an attempt to ignore the inner critic but unfortunately, our inner critic knows our every move and feeds off any hint of self-doubt. Being confident is often much easier said than done.
It’s also sadly the case that the negative thoughts that our inner critic brings about overshadow any successes or positive moments that we should be able to enjoy. Whether you’re on a date, heading into an interview or buying an outfit for a wedding, it can diminish self-confidence and it’s hard to shake off!
Taming your inner critic, or even ignoring it all together is something that most people know would be beneficial to them and on days when we do feel particularly confident, it should come naturally. However, in reality, doing so can be quite difficult. As a result, many people are left feeling deflated on a daily basis, or disappointed that the good mood and confidence they left the house with didn’t last the whole day. It’s also common for people to then blame themselves, seeing listening to their inner critic as a failure, leading to even more self-criticism.
The importance of self-love should not be underestimated. Ben Edwards, a self-confidence expert and relationship coach, has a range of excellent tips for how to tame your inner critic and improve self-esteem.
Acknowledge the thought process It’s important to recognise that the thoughts triggered by an inner critic are different to your real point of view. Your inner critic is not a true reflection of how you look, what kind of person you are or how others feel about you. The negative thoughts my clients suffer with are often due to earlier experiences that they have internalised, so I encourage them to remember that these experiences are no longer a reflection of who they are.
Write down your inner criticisms One of the best ways to acknowledge the thoughts that your inner critic creates is to write them down, then you can see them clearly and tackle them head on. Having these thoughts written down means you can’t escape or supress them. A lot of my clients have found this has also helped them to realise how inaccurate they are and has also helped them to feel stronger at having overcome those thoughts.
Answer your inner critic with a compassionate response to yourself While it can be very easy to listen to our inner critic and believe what it tells us, it’s essential that we respond to how it makes us feel in a positive way. Self-care and self-love are extremely important and although some people might find that loving themselves is a long way off, I always encourage my clients to start with acceptance. Don’t beat yourself up, your inner critic might tell you you’ll never get your dream job, or you’ll be single forever, but responding compassionately to yourself can change your whole perspective. For example, you might be single for now but enjoy some aspects of your own company, or you might not have reached the peak of your career yet because you’ve enjoyed other things in life before settling into something. Thinking in this way can be empowering and diffuse the feelings that self-criticism can cause.
Never act on your inner critic You might be looking in the mirror one last time before heading out the door when your inner critic tells you that you don’t look good enough or you won’t be good company amongst everyone else. Sadly, this can lead people to avoid social situations or believing what their critic is telling them. Yet if we act on it every time, we give up a whole range of opportunities, from meeting new people to applying for an exciting new job or promotion. Instead, try consciously making decisions that challenge what your inner critic is telling you. Even if it’s making you doubt your abilities, apply for the job and see what happens, or meet up with friends to remind yourself how you can have positive experiences and feel good about yourself. Often one compliment about your outfit or an engaging conversation once you’re in the social situation gives you the boost you need and reminds you of the enjoyment you can feel when you push yourself to continue doing these things.
If you’d like more self-confidence advice, visit www.benedwards.co.uk or take a look at his ‘Tame Your Inner Critic’ coaching activity bit.ly/FreeInnerCritic.
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