Managing Your 'Inner Critic' - By Charlie Cannon
If I were to name the most important thing I have learned to support my happiness and personal wellbeing, I would have to say it would be to mange my ‘inner critic’. If you are wondering what I mean about the inner critic, it is the little voice in your head that likes to criticize you. It is the voice in your head that will give you a hard time for eating more than you wanted, for not doing that work out you had planned or for failing to keep to that New Years resolution. If you still do not think you have one, the best way to bring it out is to place yourself out of your comfort zone, mine will often come out before I am about to do a ‘presentation’ it will start saying things like ‘ you better not mess it up’ ‘ or remember the time when you completely blanked’. Not exactly the positive encouragement I want before delivering a speech.
If we do not learn to silence this part of ourselves it can be damaging to our self-esteem as we end up believing the statements that it says which negatively impacts our mood and emotional wellbeing. So what can we do about it? Below I am gong to give you five strategies that help me and my clients disengage from that nasty critic.
1.) Self-awareness, when creating all positive personal change, self awareness is key, you need to observe when your inner critic surfaces, write down what it says and become aware of the triggers in your life that have the most emotional charge, as this is when it will love to come out and play. Examples of triggers could be financial insecurity, overeating, feeling like you have failed, being overweight etc
2.) If I find my inner critic to be being particularly aggressive I will fight fire with fire and tell it to shut up and come back when it has something useful to say. Sometimes even just saying the word stop assertively will help you disengage from the cycle. It is then important to channel your focus into something else.
3.) I often get my clients to draw what their inner critic looks like and then slam it in between a book and then stamp on it. This can add some assertive energy to break from the pattern with some humour which is a great way to break free from the critic
4.) Bringing your attention fully to the present moment by focusing on your breathing at your belly, will take the charge out of the inner critics attack. It will take at least two minutes of focused attention on your belly breathing. I recommend a five second in breath and a five second out breath.
5.) Vigorous exercise is undoubtedly one of the best ways to change our state, if you find yourself being caught up with negative self-doubt, first of all notice that you are in not a great emotional space and take action immediately by doing 7 minutes of intense exercise, this will certainly silence that negative self-talk, here is a link for a 7 minute work out suggestion http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
So next time you find yourself being berated by your ‘Inner Critic’ try one of these strategies to break free from the cycle and put your day back on track.