Do you have an inner critic?
Does your inner critic “nit pick” at every thought and action lowering your self-esteem and confidence?
Each of us has two different voices: a nurturer (lifting us up) and a critic (bringing us down). Both of these voices have important roles to play throughout our lives. The inner nurturer fosters self-compassion and encouragement, while the inner critic helps us recognize our mistakes and how to improve in the future. Oftentimes, the inner critic takes over our thoughts, “throwing dart after dart of scolding, shaming, nit-picking, and faultfinding” (Hanson and Hanson, 2018) – it is big and powerful. Meanwhile, the inner nurturer is small and ineffective, diminishing our mood, self-worth, and resilience.
Do these “voices” sound familiar?
Does your inner critic play a much larger role than your inner nurturer?
Effective Ways to Restrain the Critic and Strengthen the Nurturer
Try to observe how self-criticism operates inside of you.
Be aware if anger at yourself that seems out of proportion to what happened.
Consider how self-critical attitudes developed inside of you, perhaps when you were younger.
When the inner critic starts pounding away, turn to your inner nurturer as a refugee and an alley.
It may sound silly, but try imaging a “caring committee” inside yourself with different characters who represent various kinds of support and wisdom,
Argue against your inner critic, and truly intend to win.
Think about someone who you feel is a basically good person.
As you go through your days, register when others see decency, capability, effort, and caring in you – typically in the small passing moments that are nonetheless real.
Be aware of the integrity and lovingness deep inside of you, even if these traits are not aways apparent or expressed.
In Dr. Rick Hanson’s 2013 TEDxMarin Talk, Hardwiring Happiness, he discusses how to face your inner critic. He offers simple practices to incorporate into your life to enrich and absorb positive experiences. Think about downloading and installing new software on your computer: It is not the goal to only download the software (or only speak the positive mantra), you need to also install the software (or absorb and act on the positive mantra).
Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books include: Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. This post’s topic is based on his new book, Resilient: How to Grow An Unshakeable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.
Hanson, R., & Hanson, F. (2018). How to stand up to your inner critic. Ideas.Ted.Com Explore Ideas Worth Spreading. doi: https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-stand-up-to-your-inner-critic/ Accessed on May 20, 2018.