Four steps to silence your inner critic

Ever noticed your inner monologue can be a bit, well, nasty?

That little voice in your head berates your every move and holds impossible standards – then criticises you oh-so harshly when you don’t meet these unreasonable goals.

You’d never talk to a friend that way – so why do you do it to yourself?

And more importantly, how can we all tell that inner critic to just. shut. up?

Confidence coach Julia Paulette Hollenbery says that by learning how to make our negative self-chatter quieten down, we can improve our focus, make better decisions, and be happier.

So, how do we do it? Julia recommends getting started with these four steps.

Identify your inner critic

Get to know that voice that tells you everything you’re doing is rubbish. Are there any patterns in what it says? When does it pop up? Where does it come from?

‘It may show up as an audible voice, a soundtrack in your head, or be the way that you feel,’ Julia tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Can you notice an attacking storyline, that is not new, and repeats?

‘Usually, we take this judgmental inner self-talk, to be a part of ourselves, to be “me.”

‘But just because you have lived with it for such a long time, doesn’t mean it is you.

‘Become curious about the content of your thoughts… what might you discover?’

Separate from it

Julia says: ‘Question, is the self-doubt that you are feeling really yours? Does it originate from your parents or grandparents? Is it national or cultural? Maybe it belongs to an old workplace?

‘Do you notice the familiar old attitude of perhaps your father’s anger, your mother’s frustration, your schoolteacher’s anxiety, or opinions of a previous colleague?

‘When you notice this bossy voice or feeling is temporarily in control, you can start to put some distance between you and it! You can begin to change your relationship with it… to not be a victim.’

Interact with it

This might sound weird, but try talking to that inner voice – and challenging it.

When your negative monologue pipes up, don’t just accept it. Tell it to stop, go away, be quiet. Question it a bit.

‘Aim to reduce its unconscious power over you,’ Julia suggests.

‘Experiment. Use your power of strength, kindness or humour. Shout at it, hold up your hand, make a joke or turn your back. Thank it, for trying its best to protect you from danger and keep you safe.

‘Imagine speaking silently to it or actually speak out loud to it in a private space.’

Hold yourself with kindness

Balance out the mean voice with a gentle, kind one – that’s just as strong.

‘Despite the attacking, undermining thoughts – you can give yourself some kind caring attention,’ says Julia.

‘Sense your body and breathe… create some space. Sense your feet on the ground and your bottom on the chair. Notice how you are breathing, fast or slow; if you are feeling hot or cold, tense or relaxed, restless or calm. Notice how your heart feels.

‘You are OK! Give yourself a virtual hug! You survived!

‘Despite what the unkind inner saboteur says about you and your workplace, you are a normal imperfect human, doing your best at work, with other normally imperfect people.’

Julia Paulette Hollenbery is a happiness expert and author of The Healing Power Of Pleasure – Seven Medicines For Rediscovering The Innate Joy Of Being.

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