My inner critic is a prick!
“Give up now. You can’t do this.”
“What’s the point? Everything you try is a failure.”
“Your business will never work” ”
I used to endure these kinds of comments on a daily basis. They eroded my confidence and made me feel terrible about myself. The worst part was realising they were coming from inside my own head. It was like the clichéd moment from horror movies: “The call is coming from inside the house!” except the house was my brain and the movie was my life.
Today I felt like this again, after a negative comment of a friend on my new project, I felt insecure again. My inner voice started to kick in and I know it’s a jerk. So once she left my house, I put up a new dress went out, have a nice walk in Soho, where I discovered the Subculture Archive exhibition and I came back home better than before. This is the lovely part of living in a place like London, in 30 minutes I can go and see an amazing exhibition and forget about what happen to me before.
How I’m building my emotional resilience
I’m learning to hear my inner voice for what it is: a steady stream of criticisms that can damage my self-respect and hold me back from accomplishing my goals. This requires taking myself out of the moment a bit and recognising that I’m sending myself these messages.
After being in therapy for long time, watching amazing TED talks and listening to great podcasts on how to build an emotional resilience, I came out with three steps that I apply to get out of my negative zone, every now and then.
Step 1. Identify that voice
Figuring out where this voice originates from is an intensely personal and often painful bit of detective work. My negativity has stored up from my past – it was critical parents, schoolyard bullying, failed relationships, negative friends –uncovering its sources take me some soul-searching and honest confrontation of unpleasant truths. I’m I don’t let fear put me off though.
The good news is, I’m learn to reprogram my inner voice to one that is more nurturing and compassionate. Like anything else, it takes a lot of a practice. The more I follow these steps, though, the easier I’ll find it becomes.
I Hear – but I’m not listening to – my inner voice
It all begins with awareness. Start by being attuned to each time I’m sending myself a negative message. I recognise it for what it is, I observe it, without judgment. Most importantly, I don’t listen to what it’s telling me. Just acknowledge it without internalising it.
Step 2: I pinpoint the attack, I replace it with another message
Ideally, I can counter my inner voice with a more positive message: “You can do this. You will get through this. Your hair don’t look great, so?” If I’m not quite there yet in terms of self-belief, it’s enough to just talk back to my inner voice. She sounds a little bit like an ex friend of mine, really judgemental. So I call her Marcella. And when Marcella pipes up with her unwanted opinions, I shut her down. Firmly, but politely, as if she were someone at the next table in the pub or a fairly unpleasant co-worker I have to learn to tune out.
Others use the “angry parrot” method. Visualising my inner voice as a squawking bird, repeating its messages in a shrill, high-pitched screech in your ear first of all makes me realise how disruptive and irritating it is. Second, it serves as a perfect metaphor: my inner voice is just repeating what it’s heard in the past. There’s no intent behind it, no context: just an annoying voice mimicking phrases. Why not retrain my angry parrot with some new and more positive messages?
Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 over and over again
That’s it. There are really only two steps I need to follow. Isn’t that wonderful?
What’s important is I practice this daily. I’m not always be successful – and that’s okay. My negative thoughts can be quite persistent. But I will find that over time, my inner voice stops being quite so critical and hurtful. Slowly but surely, I will begin to internalise the positive messages just as I did the negative ones from the past.
I remember to be patient with myself. Treat myself with the same compassion and care I would a friend or loved one. I deserve to have an inner voice that’s a cool woman – not an angry parrot.