• Get to Know Your Inner Critic
When we allow ourselves to indulge our critical inner voice, we are actually siding with an internal enemy. We are all divided between a real self, which is shaped out of nurturing experiences in which we identified with our early caretakers’ positive traits and caring attitudes and behaviors, and an “anti-self,” which comes from just the opposite – painful experiences in which we witnessed or observed critical, shaming, or resentful attitudes that we internalized toward ourselves. To really break free from the firm grip of this evolved enemy, we have to diligently recognize when it starts to talk to us, adopt a more compassionate and realistic attitude, and stubbornly ignore its skewed opinions and terrible advice.
• Embrace self-compassion
Luckily, there is a much more favorable attitude to adopt toward ourselves that can act as an anti-dote to our “critical inner voice.” That is one of self-compassion. Research has proven that self-compassion training is effective in reducing self-criticism. Additionally, being more self-compassionate does not lead to less motivation toward goals. On the contrary self-compassion is much more conducive to making real change. Studies have shown that self-compassion, unlike self-criticism, increases self-improvement. Individuals who adopt a more self-compassionate attitude are more willing to learn and to look at how they can improve on mistakes.
Self-compassion is not at all like victimization. Instead of having a “poor me” attitude, people who are self-compassionate understand that their suffering is part of the human condition, and that this actually connects them to others. They have a kind attitude toward themselves, treating themselves like they would treat a friend. A person who is self-compassionate is also mindful to not over-identify with their thoughts and feelings. Because of these three elements, a person who has self-compassion is better able to respond to challenges, thinking of adaptive solutions, rather than becoming bogged down in self-evaluation and self-criticism.
• Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that allows us to sit with our thoughts and feelings without judgment. Many forms of mindfulness meditation practices have been shown to reduce psychological distress and help stop rumination. In addition, practicing yoga with meditation has been shown to lead to less self-criticism. Most of us get into trouble when we start blindly believing or focusing in on our flaws. We lose ourselves to self-evaluation, self-criticism, and even self-hatred. This leads to self-limiting or self-destructive behavior. Mindful meditation helps us to get a grasp on these thoughts before they take over.
We all have different desires, different issues we want to tackle and aspirations we want to pursue that have unique meaning to us. However, we can all benefit from taking on the goal of freeing ourselves from our inner critic, practicing more self-compassion, and being a more mindful member of the world. When we do each of these things, we feel more connected and available to the people around us. We offer more of ourselves, as we start to truly evolve and shift our way of seeing ourselves. This leads us to grow into who we really are: our real selves, more awake and alive. Our critical anti-self will always encourage us to do the thing that is least in our own interest and is ultimately the most deadening. That is why when it comes to what we seek to change, we should take.