The inner critic is a critical inner voice that we tend to misuse and harm ourselves with. This is the voice that tells us we aren’t enough, that we aren’t capable or are hopeless. This is the voice that tells us we should’ve known, we should’ve done, we shouldn’t have forgotten and the list goes on.
The inner critic tells us that we don't deserve something and have to work harder, and only then, maybe we will deserve a better attitude from this inner voice. The inner critic doesn’t approve of our relaxing, having fun and being happy.
Often, we think it’s an inseparable part of us that we are doomed to live with. It forces us to limit ourselves. We stop exploring our greatness, and instead, we focus on finding flaws and exaggerating them. We create excuses and ask why some things aren't possible for us.
Where does our inner critic come from?
Nobody is born with their inner critic. Can you imagine a one-year-old learning to walk and criticizing himself or herself for falling down all the time? They rarely care about how well they do something because they focus on constant improvement; they desire to make it work. Then they finally do it!
The other day, I saw the following situation in the street: a three-year-old child was walking with his father and fell down, then he dusted himself off and kept walking.
Then his father asked, “Why weren’t you looking where you were going?”
Have you ever wondered how an inner critic appears in our heads? From the people around us! We picked our inner critic up during childhood through people around us (parents, educators and other important figures in our lives) and adopted them as ours. With time, we became those people for ourselves.
When we obey and listen to our inner critic, we don’t believe in or trust ourselves.
Then, in the same way, we criticize ourselves, we critique those around us because this is what we are used to.
Now that you know what your inner critic is about, would you like to keep listening to it and believing it?
Chances are that you never wanted to listen to it in the first place. It’s okay to desire to rebel against it or ignore it.
What if I told you that you can still see the things you need to work on without the negativity? Wouldn’t you prefer this approach?
Replacing your inner critic with critical thinking will take you to a whole new level of looking at yourself, your abilities and your future.
Critical thinking is a great tool that helps you see situations without emotional bias. You can see things for what they are.
Mistakes are teachers.
The first and most important step in developing critical thinking is learning to be okay with making mistakes. A lot of people dread failure. The other side of this fear is a lack of action that influences you to stay stagnant and not realise your true potential.
There’s a popular saying: “There are no mistakes, only lessons.” What exactly does this mean? If we treat mistakes as points of growth and learning, we’ll become thankful for those mistakes because they will show us what needs fixing or reviewing.
Expectations are standards.
We often set up high expectations, and when we don’t meet them, our inner critic blames us. Sometimes, people question whether they should lower their expectations of themselves in order to be happier. Why do you have those expectations in the first place? Because this is what you are capable of. If we allow our inner critic to put us down when we don’t meet those expectations, we get in our own way.
Here are some guiding points that will teach you to treat your expectations as a standard to strive for, not a measure of how good a person you are:
#1: See your expectations as a bar you want to reach.
#2: Know that, in any given moment, you are already doing the best you can.
#3: Don’t define your happiness by being able to meet your standards.
#4: Analyse your results to see what you need to work on in order to meet your expectations.
Other people’s opinions have nothing to do with you.
Read the above sentence one more time. How does it make you feel? Confused? Surprised? Relieved?
Other people’s opinions are based on their beliefs and their expectations. It doesn’t mean you have to disrespect or ignore them. Apply these critical thinking tips when someone’s opinion hurts you.
#1: Allow the possibility of the existence of any opinion, not only the one that you like or agree with.
#2: Understand that the person may hold different ideas about something, just as you do.
#3: Remember that feeling negative about this opinion isn’t helping you.
Next time your inner critic starts pulling you down, ask yourself how you could use critical thinking instead. Critical thinking will address your concerns in a way that empowers you and allows you to grow.
P.S. If you want to find out more about how to develop critical thinking skills, please book a free Discovery Call with me. I will share some personalized tools and tips with you.