I know that you want to come off as that strong, confident person you truly are.
But it can be incredibly difficult when your inner critic is running the show.
You know that voice — it’s the one that tells you that you’re not smart enough, that other people won’t like you, that you shouldn’t try something new because you can’t do it.
We all have it.
Sometimes it can be so debilitating that in order to keep you from failing, it keeps you from doing the things you need to do in order to be successful.
Here are 7 ways to make peace with your inner critic:
1. Create your own story
You cannot always control the things that happen in your life, but you can decide on the story you tell yourself about it. For example, if you were laid off from a job and are worried how that’s going to come across to a potential employer, remember why you took that job in the first place.
Think about how it brought you closer to your goals, how it just wasn’t the right fit, and all the valuable lesson you learned from the experience. That way rather than focusing on your fear, you’ll boost yourself up and be prepared to answer any interview question that comes your way.
2. Become aware
One of the first steps to make peace with your inner critic is to become aware of it. Many of us are so used to pushing, striving and beating ourselves up, that we often don’t realize we’re even doing it. So notice when your thoughts start to spiral out of control.
If you suddenly drop into a depressed or anxious mood, ask yourself what you were just thinking? If it’s something like “I don’t have any friends, no on likes me anymore” or “I shouldn’t bother going to that party, I’m just going to feel uncomfortable”, than that’s a sure sign that your inner critic has been running the show!
3. Have compassion
Research shows that it’s more effective to have compassion with your inner critic than to fight against it. Our inner critic is trying to be our friend. It wants to keep us from getting hurt or failing. The problem with that is it also keeps us from being our happiest or most successful selves. So when your inner critic shows up have some compassion for it. If you’re feeling worried you can say “thank you, I know that you’re trying to protect me, but I’m going to go for it.”
4. Create distance
Despite the importance we place on them, our thoughts are not necessarily the truth or even all that meaningful. One of the best ways to silence your inner critic is to create some distance. A simple yet powerful technique is noting. You literally note the thought you’re having.
You don’t do it in a forceful way where you’re trying to catch every thought, but rather, you do it very lightly. A thought goes through your head and you say “Ah, I’m feeling a bit of shame right now. That’s okay.” Noting gives you that wee bit of extra space between yourself and the thought you’re having.
5. Stop ruminating
When you make a mistake your inner critic wants to correct it. It may feel natural to replay the event over in your head to find a solution. But often the inner critic doesn’t focus on solutions; it focuses on feeling worse.
When you are ruminating, you literally have to remove yourself from the merry-go-round of worry. Notice what you can do for yourself in the present moment. Try sitting quietly and breathing with the discomfort, going for a walk, or talking to a friend.
6. Question it
Curiosity defeats fear. So when your inner critic comes up, start to question it. If it’s telling you that somebody you work with doesn’t like you, ask yourself if it’s really true? Ask yourself why you’d think it’s true? And before jumping to any conclusions, look for the facts. You can talk to your co-worker and see if there’s anything you can do to improve your relationship. Point being — don’t believe everything that goes through your head without questioning it first.
7. Know Your Strengths
Focus on the good things about yourself. When the critical voice becomes louder than your wise inner voice, look for the good in yourself and your life. Sure, there is always more to improve on, but look at the areas you’ve mastered or have made huge strides in.
Tell yourself about the unquestionable badass you are.
Previously Published on Huffington Post