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Combating Your Inner Critic

By Amber Tolbert

You likely have a little voice in your head that tells you things about yourself. This inner critic may speak out any time you do something “wrong.” It may chastise you when you forget something, make a mistake, or overlook something important. At its worst, it will berate, condemn, and belittle. It will remind you of how “dumb” or “worthless” or “inadequate” you are.

In moments like these, the inner voice rarely speaks the truth. And yet it’s still there, a pervasive critic that won’t shut up.

Some people’s inner critic is louder than that of others. So where does it come from? For many of us, this voice in our head stems from past traumas we’ve experienced. Trauma typically is categorized as a dramatic or life-threatening event that tests a person’s resilience (think natural disaster, physical assault, sudden accident, etc.). However, trauma can also take the form of subtle, systemic, and even intergenerational experiences that last for years. If trauma dates back to childhood, for instance, a person can become especially good at surviving and relying on defense mechanisms. Yet those mechanisms only worsen the situation. Over time, the trauma becomes more complicated, and that greatly increases the risk of the individual developing counterproductive coping skills, unhealthy numbing patterns, or, as is the case of the inner critic, an overall lack of self-worth.

How do you combat the inner critic? How do you become attuned to how you want to be and empower yourself to take back the story of your life? The first step is learning to rewrite your narrative, to recognize your inner worth and remind yourself of the value you have.

When your inner critic is constantly reminding you of the ways you fall short, you can counter those lies with constructive thoughts. Whether you recall what you accomplished on a given day or mentally record what made you feel good about yourself, you can reframe your thinking in a way that focuses less on the negative and more on the positive. The graphic below offers a few other fill-in-the-blank statements that may work.

Learning to silence your inner critic takes practice, but it can be done. Want help breaking free from the messages that are holding you back? Consider joining Elizabeth Avant’s in-person workshop “Breaking Free” on March 25th! This workshop requires registration by March 20th. For more details and to register, email [email protected].

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