Are you overly self-critical in some areas of your life? How do you turn a harsh inner critic that beats you up into a helpful critic on your side?
Everyone has an inner critic. You need an inner critic to prevent you from being excessively rude, doing and saying inappropriate things, and harming yourself and others.
Often, however, we are overly self-critical in specific areas in our lives, whether it’s regarding our intelligence, athleticism, social abilities, or other areas of life. If we are overly self-critical, it actually prevents us from improving and it makes us feel miserable about ourselves. Thus, there are often certain areas in which we could benefit from having a more constructive and compassionate inner critic.
Brain research shows that neuroplasticity allows people to change their thought processes and turn negative thinking into constructive thinking. It takes a lot of practice just as it does to learn a sport or language. It take thousands of thought transformations to change a harsh inner critic into a constructive inner critic. But we have time to do so. Wouldn’t you rather feel better about yourself in six months or a year than to continue to condemn and disparage yourself in that same amount of time?
1. Identify the specific negative thoughts
Become aware of the specific verbal attacks you make toward yourself. For example, “I’m so stupid.” “No one likes me.” “I’m so clumsy.” Sometimes these thoughts are so second-nature that we are not even aware of having them.
2. Think of a replacement thought
Decide what a believable replacement thought for each negative thought would be. You don’t have to think, “I’m the smartest person in the world,” because that may not be believable. A more reasonable thought replacement would be, “I’m not an idiot. Everyone makes mistakes. I’m a decent human being.”
3. Continue to practice
After thousands of thought replacements, it will become automatic. Then you will have an inner critic who is on your side and will help you to become a better person without making you suffer.
by Dr. Alison Poulsen