You know that voice, the one that whispers, “you can’t do that”, “you’re too fat”, “you’re not pretty enough”, “you’re not good enough”. This is the voice of your self-critic and it’s up to you to stop it in it’s tracks.
This voice can be powerful. You can hear it about your job, finances, relationships, body, or sex life. Any places you have an opportunity to feel vulnerable, this little voice makes its way in to tell you some sort of “truth” that you are not worthy.
Well, here’s a truth for you, THAT IS NOT YOUR VOICE.
That is not you, it is not your deepest self, nor the place of your soul. It isn’t you who speaks the harsh words. That voice is created by other people, old messages from the culture, or your environment. It is the voice of programming. It’s the voice that keeps you down, it keeps you weak, and it keeps you from the power of who you really are.
You might already know this. You might be thinking, “obviously that isn’t me”, but how many times do you allow that voice to control your actions? How many times do you feel shitty in your body so you don’t have sex with your partner because you feel so bad? Or, you put yourself on a diet or exercise routine to try to love your body?
Problems of the Self-Critic
The voice becomes a problem when we start believing it. When we allow the voice to take over our minds and become the primary voice of thoughts, it keeps us criticizing ourselves. It can begin innocently with one self-criticizing thought. But we attach to that thought, and then the other thoughts start to follow.
Many of the people I work with are women who often speak from their self-criticizing voice. I hear the pain and the harshness that comes through as they talk about their struggle with their body or their relationship to sex or different trauma. I listen as they describe the areas of shut-down or shame. As I hear these stories, I relate because I have had very similar -even the same- experiences. I have struggled with disorderly eating, addiction, and almost drowned in self-hate. All of these are signs of a HUGE self-critic voice taking over my inner world. I still struggle with my self-critic often when it comes to my work and the self-worth I attach to it.
Letting the Voice be seen
This voice is part of the human experience and not ignoring or covering, but learning how to work with it is how we evolve into the more authentic versions of ourselves. It’s not about pretending everything’s ok, it’s about speaking the truth of what we struggle with.
This is where the importance of mindfulness comes in. When you can observe your thoughts and be conscious of what they are saying, you have a better chance at catching the thought before it gets too big and penetrates everything you think. The spiral of self-criticism can be like a tornado destroying all in its path. But there are some tools to stop those thoughts before they become overwhelming.
Ways to move out of the voice:
- Acknowledge the voice: Let the voice know you hear it by saying things like, “I see you, voice. Thank you for your input but I’m not going to listen to you right now” or “Enough is Enough.”
- Remember the feeling of gratitude: When was the last time you felt deeply grateful? The kind of appreciation where you are 100% being yourself in joy. Bring that feeling into this moment.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Simply, sit and bring your attention into this moment. That means noticing your thoughts, your breath, your body. Meditation doesn’t mean thoughts go away and you get silence, meditation is the practice of OBSERVING thoughts along with the body.
- Write it down: Write down everything the voice has to say (I have a journal specifically used for my shitty voice). When you’re in that space of self-criticism, allow everything the voice is telling you to be written down on paper. Let the thoughts and criticisms come out. At first, it might seem scary to let these thoughts out into your reality, but that is exactly where they need to be because it allows you to realize that what your thoughts are saying is incredibly far from your current truth. You recognize them as untrue.
- Notice the broken record: Usually, these thoughts that come from the voice that isn’t you are predictable. They tend to say the same thing over and over again, like a broken record. You know exactly what the next thought is going to be. The same messaging, the same pain, the same everything. That is how you know it’s not you. You are an infinitely creative person, so ideas that come from the heart are unique and feel good in your body.
- Phone a friend: Find that person in your life that you trust and who can hold space for you. Ask them if you can text them or call them when you’re in the self-criticizing mind and give them one power sentence to say. This can be them asking if you’ve moved your body today, or left the house, or a mantra, like “that voice is a sleazy liar”. Laughter can also quiet the voice very quickly.
- Move your body: Getting into your body immediately drops you out of your mind and into your heart. Whatever your current relationship is to your body, when you move it, however that looks, it stops your self-critic instantly. Go for a walk outside, work out, or create a playlist specifically for these moments and dance your ass off to it.
So the next time this voice graces you with its presence use one of the tools and stop it in its tracks.
Action Steps to Stop Your Self-Critic
Write down one one message your self-critic tells you. Then write a tool you will use the next time that voice starts whispering.
Let me know how it in the comment box below.
Until next time, stay curious my friends.