We are constantly communicating, whether on our cell phones, facebook page, twitter or socializing over a glass of wine. But are you aware that you are also constantly communicating with yourself?
From the time we wake up in the morning to when we go to sleep at night, there is an internal dialogue going on inside of us.
What are you saying to yourself? Are you hearing affirming words that encourage and motivate you? Or do you hear words that constantly sow seeds of doubt, misgivings, and fears?
Your Internal Critic
Each of us has an internal critic, some more aggressive than others. It tells us how bad we are, how incompetent and unreliable. You might hear things like, “you can’t win, you are not good enough, blah, blah, blah.” The critic’s job is to remind you of all the reasons why you can’t succeed, so don’t waste your time trying. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
An internal critic has been around a long time and simply keeps repeating messages it has taken from our past and put onto a continuous tape. The messages are always negative, pessimistic, demeaning and discouraging. This internal critic has been around a long time and it has nothing of value to tell you.
Doubts and Fears
It is normal to have doubts and fears. Like all emotions, they have a purpose and it is important to pay attention to them. They warn us to stop and investigate before going on. They keep us from making knee-jerk reactions.We need to be able to assess and evaluate the information they are giving us.
When doubts and fears continue to overshadow our attempts to find appropriate solutions, it’s time to challenge their authenticity.
Internal Critic or Constructive Criticism
While an internal critic never has anything positive to say, constructive criticism is important. The first gives you no options – the second enables you to review incoming information, evaluate its messages and make an assessment on how to proceed. Using critical analysis, we can look for the best solutions available to us at the time.
Challenge the Validity of Your Negative Critic
Stop and pay attention to your self-talk for awhile. If you are constantly hearing over and over some of the following typical messages, it is probably coming from an internal critic. Here are some typical statements:
- Why do you always screw up?
- You’re so stupid.
- Won’t you ever learn?
- What’s wrong with you?
- If others knew how incompetent you were, they would have nothing to do with you
- Why can’t you be like your sister/brother?
- You’ll never amount to anything.
Statements such as these that are constantly triggered whenever anything goes wrong are not helpful to anyone. While we all might bemoan the fact that we have made stupid mistakes or scold ourselves for making bad choices, the internal critic offers nothing that can be viewed as constructive.
Some ways to silence a negative critic
It may be difficult to stop an ongoing critic that has nothing positive to say. Give your critic a name. Remember, it’s not you – it’s a tape recording of messages accumulated from your past. Give it a name and when it is activated, tell it to sit down and be quiet – you are tired of hearing demeaning and self-destructing messages.
Or, imagine these messages on a tape recorder that is constantly activated. Imagine holding a remote control with a huge STOP and PLAY button on it. Whenever the PLAY button has been activated, see yourself push the STOP button. Remember, the tape and its voice, the Internal Critic, has been around a long time. You will have to be very demanding and consistent. If you are alone, say out loud STOP – I do not intend to listen to worthless garbage.
It’s not enough to simply stop a reaction that has become habitual. We need to replace it with something else. Replace the critical words you hear with words of affirmation. Here are some important ones:
I am capable, competent and discerning
I may not have all the answers, but I can learn
I accept myself unconditionally – both my strengths and weaknesses
I am not my past – I may have made mistakes, but I can learn from them
These are just a sample of positive affirmations. Affirmations affirm your worth, abilities, beliefs and values. They draw you towards a self-fulfilling prophecy of possibility and choice. Repeat them every day to establish a new dialogue and establish confidence.
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