One of the biggest things I’ve noticed that can catapult me into a place of feeling not OK about myself, is my internal dialogue – the chatter that goes on in my head at times. Self-criticism is a real con, a mean trick which we can play on ourselves without really being aware of what we’re doing. Mostly uncalled for and always uninvited, with a few random, negative thoughts, self-criticism can transform your mood from that of a sunny day to an overcast, wet weekend.
The thing about self-criticism is this: the voice which is having a go at us is usually based on out-of-date, spurious information. So we’re being beaten about the ears by a drum banging to someone else’s beat, creating a dirge of cackling criticism!
I wonder, in fact, is there any place for self criticism? (Perhaps I’ll leave that discussion for another post). If you think about it, we are all rather miraculous. Consider all the systems in your body (cardiovascular, circulatory, digestive, lymphatic to name a few). All of these systems are intricately linked, working together behind the scenes, maintaining balance, without ‘you’ having to do anything. That’s pretty impressive stuff, surely? When I look at it from this perspective, I see myself for what I am; a vulnerable mammal of the primate order, trying to make my way through the chaos and challenges of life!
So who is this voice that pipes up now and again, criticising us, telling us we’re useless, stupid, no good (whatever tune it likes to play)? This is the voice of our inner critic. It’s there to keep us safe, to hold certain rules which might, for example, stop us making social faux pas, such as burping at the dinner table in polite company… so it does have its uses. However, very often its volume is turned up way too high, and it starts running the show.
Maybe you’d like to take a few moments to listen to your inner critic? You could observe what he/she is saying and as you start to do that, you might become more aware of how he/she shapes your moods by the stories that accompany the criticism.
You don’t have to follow the narrative this critical voice creates; you can choose to be kinder to yourself, and choose to talk to yourself with more kindness…. and then you might choose to do something kind for yourself too!