However, we should all make an effort to be our own biggest fan, and learning to be patient with yourself will mean you can learn to do anything. The reason why we should speak kindly to ourselves is that we are very skilled in being able to convince ourselves into feeling a certain way and if you keep hold of negative throughs... well you begin to believe it.
This is where mindfulness practises are incredibly useful because regular time spent in meditation helps us to come to the life-altering realisation, you can be much more if you have your own cheerleader with you at all times. Your inner critic can be constructive but you have to learn to make it so.
What can we do then, to productively work with our inner critic? Here are seven ideas:
Talkback to it. You don’t have to talk out loud - in fact, that’s probably best avoided if you’re not alone! Whenever a critical thought comes up, challenge it. Ask yourself, is this really true? Often when we challenge these thoughts we are able to silence them by proving to ourselves that actually, it's okay if we didn't get something perfect this time, there is plenty of opportunities to try again if we put our minds to it.
A good trick is to come up with a game plan, what can you do better next time.
Replace it with a positive thought. Rather than think about the that went wrong you could also learn to get into the habit of celebrating what you’ve done well. Remind yourself regularly of all of your achievements, large and small. Have a list of these ready to reel off, should you need to.
Use mindfulness. We talk a lot about mindfulness, and that’s because it really is incredibly beneficial to everyday life. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and their impact on your emotional and mental state. When you are aware that your thoughts could be more positive, you can alter it consciously, rather than getting caught up in them subconsciously.
Distract yourself. Sometimes telling yourself you did a good job isn't enough, and the best thing to do is actually take a step away from a situation and give your mind a break. At times like that, the best thing can often be to just distract it with something else. Find a task that takes concentration and focus. A great distraction for this can be something like yoga or t’ai chi - especially if you are a beginner, as you have to really concentrate on the postures and movements. A 30-minute class can leave you feeling as if you’ve really rested your mind.
Commit to self improvement. If you stop and look at things with a balanced mind, you may concede that yes, on this occasion your inner critic may have a point. Perhaps you did leave it too late to meet that deadline, or perhaps you could have done things differently.
Rather than beat yourself up about it, commit to ensuring it doesn’t happen next time. Look at how you can improve your responses and reactions so that if and when the situation arises again, you are able to do things differently.
Think of what your best friend would say. A good way to speak positively about yourself is to think as a close friend or family would. What would someone else say to you when something hasn't gone to plan? A best friend will always tell you if you’ve not done your best, but they would put it in an encouraging way. If necessary, talk to your friend and ask for their take on things. Use what they say to counter what your inner critic is saying.
- Be your own cheerleader. Find a mantra that suits you, and use it whenever you feel the need. Simply repeat your mantra over and over again. This can be something as simple as “I can do this” or “I am confident and efficient.” Saying this to yourself over and over will drown out whatever negativity is coming up, and should help you to remain positive.
Sometimes your inner critic may be right, and it can be useful in helping to identify areas for improvement, but we must learn to keep it on the right track and steer it to when it serves no constructive purpose.