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Dealing with that Inner Voice of Criticism

How do you treat yourself?

We are often harshest in our treatment of ourselves in the way our inner voice reprimands us for making mistakes.

Rather than an objective assessment of our actions, we strive for perfection in ourselves, and are disappointed or angry with ourselves if we cannot attain that desired standard.

Source: https://forestwoodfolkart.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/58006-1ye5vss3wrvp7nv7b51ldzw.png

Trying to be Perfect

Perfection is impossible, yet we continue to strive for it. Let us face it, we are all imperfect beings in some way. So it is a natural and normal state to be imperfect.

We may feel anger or diappointment when we judge ourselves to be useless, inadequate or ineffective.

If your critical inner voice is devaluing who you are, answer back with self-kindness … this is the antidote.

Medium.com
Singapore orchid gardens

Turn negative statements into neutral statements

One easy way to adjust our damaging self-talk is to change “always” and “never” statements into specific truthful ones.

“I always fail at ….” Really, is this accurate? Or, is this statement better?

“It seems like I fail every time I try something I find difficult, but telling myself that doesn’t help or support me in any way and each time it happens, I am learning something about what doesn’t work for me.”

Even in simple situations you might catch your self-talk saying, “You always forget where you put your phone/keys/wallet.”

Imagine how less disappointed you might feel if you change that self-talk to, “When life gets really busy, it is easy to forget where I left my phone/keys/wallet, but that is okay. Next time I might take more notice where I put them.”

If you make a mistake in your work, instead of labelling yourself, useless, using more nurturing phrases under your breath can feel less reproachful.

“I stuffed up this time, but that is okay because I am still learning how best to carry out this task and next time I might do better.”

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” –Brené Brown

Here is another example from medium.com

Let’s say your inner voice tells you that you’re fat, and you think:
I did gain five pounds. She’s right, I’m ugly.” You feel miserable, right? Neutralize that negative statement so you feel good about yourself. Paint the situations your inner critic is nagging you about, in neutral colors. Name the facts. Add what you think will help you to make it better.

“Yes, I want to lose a couple of pounds. Last week I was too stressed and tired so I ate more and skipped my exercises. I’m more relaxed now, and I can go back to my usual routine.”

medium.com

Be kind to yourself.

50 thoughts on “Dealing with that Inner Voice of Criticism”

  1. You’re on a bit of a binge with this “you’re OK” stuff: why is that ? I recall clearly making some ludicrous comment only a week or two back, Amanda; and I don’t know that I can find it in myself to think myself any nicer now than I was then.
    Hmm: is that what I mean, I wonder ..?
    I lose track ..
    WHADDYA MEAN, YOU KNOW ?!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I try to post something inspirational for those of us who may be struggling with mental wellbeing. It started out with a quote and saying, which you should know I have been doing for many years, first as Proverbial Thursday then Friday, and now Sunday Sayings. Mabel Kwong and I had long discussions. I know concentrate more on positive differences that can me absorbed into one’s life if one is struggling. You have no need for this M-R, even though you might like to try it sometimes when you are feeling particularly grumpy.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What an important message. We tend to be our most severe critics yet it is only when we learn how to love ourselves, that is when we can become easier with ourselves. Growth is tough. To “expect” perfection is only setting ourselves up for disappointment. We can only ask of us to do our best. And be satisfied we have done so. Really loved this post! xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for a great comment, AmyRose. I think it is important that we feel okay about being kind to ourselves. We have been subliminally trained not to be too indulgent in ourselves, to be modest and err on the side of being self-depracating of our abilities and qualities. This seems particularly so in English and Australian people. It is social suicide to bignote oneself and if there is a tall poppy, society will seek to bring them down, ‘a peg or two.’ I wonder if bignoting oneself is frowned upon in many countries and can lead to a failure with respecting oneself? For some folks it seems being kind to themselves is confusing. Being self decprecating may also lead to a crisis of confidence and instead of appearing proud and strong, the person appears insecure and weak. This is the extreme end of the spectrum, of course, as most fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
      You are right that growth is tough, as it requires us to adopt new habits and remove old ones that do us no service or do not support us in any way. Strive to do our best and be satisfied is a healthy way of looking at life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What an in-depth response! Wow! Society at large I agree with you does not know what self-love is. We overall were not taught to be kind to ourselves. It’s taken me decades to undo the damage done to me as a child and I still to this day work on that “voice” that kicks me when I mess up. No I say! I’m allowed to make mistakes for no one is perfect and I will keep on trying until I do get it right. I’ve learned how to live harmoniously with Mother Nature, as our acre of land attests. I do not know if our example is even noticed but that is not the reason why we do what we do. We practice respect in our home and extend that respect to Mother as well.
        I LOVE the way you think. I applaud you for critically thinking for yourself! Too many are being led by the noses being told what to do, how to think, and how to act. Since a child I rebelled just knowing somehow that I deserved to be ME, whoever that may be. I did eventually find me. Took me a while, believe you me, but I’ve done it. Nothing will ever take that from me. I know what it took for me to be where I am today so with that in mind, I practice patience (at least I try to) when I am in the presence of others who do not understand the meaning of self-empowerment. If I am unable to show patience, I quietly excuse myself from that person’s presence. May you have a really great day today! Peace! xo

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        1. I also like that you are trying to keep in tune with nature and co-existing with the environment.
          We all have legacies from our past that murmur away in our head. But with time, they get quieter and you become more comfortable with who you are. It sounds like you have found strength and resilience in ‘you.’
          Are you growing some small crops or just veges for yourselves?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Neither. I grow flowers, bushes, and we have many trees. Over half of our property we left wild and over the years a bird sanctuary appeared. We even have Baltimore Orioles. It took me 3 years to entice them to come here but now they come back every year along with Hummingbirds, sharing the same feeders. Amazing how these birds know me. Our gardens are pesticide free and only our trees when in trouble do we use chemicals. It is VERY challenging to manage and maintain vegetation doing so with organics and naturals. We don’t believe in chemicals and live as free from them as possible …. in every aspect of our lives.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I prefer organic management of pests as well. We are looking at getting native bees to help nature pollinate the flowers. Do you have a worm farm? We have just purchased ours. A new project to help the soil.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. No we don’t have a worm farm. However there are plenty of worms in our soil now. It took a while, years in fact, but for the most part, we have healthy worms. The Robins can attest to that! (smile)

                Liked by 1 person

  3. I was ready to quip: “Try silencing that voice with a beer.” — and then I realised that I’ll come over as the picture girl for alcohol abuse (although “beer” for me stands for: meeting with friends, I drink – if at all – only socially). So I won’t quip. But the kernel of truth: don’t dwell on it. It’s important – to an extent – to keep a critical eye on oneself lest we become insufferable narcissists but not to overdo it. I tend to distract myself from self-criticism by a) putting the criticism in perspective (fretting over a perfectly kept house is really not important overall) and b) distracting myself with something completely different (like reading a book or watching a movie.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Distraction is a technique that is a band aid solution. It gets you through the bad days, Knickers but in not a great long term strategy, don’t you think? However the concept of not dwelling and being disciplined with the mind is for me, a better solution with long term propects. I guess not dwelling on things can emcompass distraction, but also replacing the thoughts with other words that remind ourselves of what is truly important, what we can be grateful for and what we can redirect our focus to: that is What we CAN do (as opposed to what we CAN”T change) Problem solving used a lot of energy in the brain and can remove us from the carousel of worry. No one would want to be a insufferable narcissist but the irony is the narcissist is not in the least bit aware of how he/she is coming across to others.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I finally published my page and posted my first page as you had recommended.

    https://lifeizhappening.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/the-reason-for-sundays/

    This is the link to my first post. I would appreciate if you had the time to check it over. feel free to poke around the page as well.
    This post you wrote is similar to the one I wrote.
    I tell a story about my children first giving me a hard time, but then it leads into talking about setting one’s self up for success.

    I called it The Reason for Sundays.

    I often talk about this very same topic you mentioned in your post to my children. Your inner diolog is what controls your perspective on things and your self. Some of us are not equipt with the positive inner communication naturally. It is something I have had to work on and I know others as well. It is something certain people consiously need to think about and say to themselves out loud even. HEY, THOSE ARE DAMAGING THOUGHTS. YOU NEED TO LEAVE!
    Then you have to really really look at your self in the mirror, to look at you in your eyes, because the negative thought have become so normal that a positive thought or to give a complimnt to your own self is almost hard to believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like this post, I often talk to my children about the inner dialog we have with ourselves. Sometimes its natural for everyone to wake up and know its a great day or it will be. Sometimes you have to consciously make your inner dialog change.

    I used wonder how do people seem to be so cheerful. I was almost sure it was fake, but too many people I saw were for the most part, happy.
    What was the secret? Everyone must know something I didn’t. I ended up taking a stress management class in college. My professor talked about the inner communication we have with our selves and controlling it to say what we want and need it to say. I thought to myself, Can I do that? Just tell myself what to say and think, it’s not organic thoughts then and I would be a fake. But when she explained that its not natural for some of us to think positively about ourselves we need to take action and eventually the more you change your own thoughts and words it will be natural. Her advice worked. I am a strong advocate of this practice.

    I loved that you talked about it. Most people don’t talk about the inner communication being negative to our own selves.

    I have a similar post I posted. My first post actually. About the effort we put in and setting ourselves up for success. It’s called The Reason for Sundays. I included the link if you want to check it out. up to your.
    https://lifeizhappening.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/the-reason-for-sundays/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Laura for the anecdotal evidence that you can alter your ingrained patterns of thinking. It is not and never easy to make changes like that, but you are right, eventually the more you change your own thoughts and words the more it will be natural. Some folks don’t know how to form positive words yet and they need good role models in their life. I used to gently counteract the negative things my son would say and thereby construct a more positive atmosphere around him as he could not do that for himself. He saw the world through black eyes, all negative. I love that this worked for you and congratulations on your first post.
      And thanks ever so much for your detailed comment. I love long comments!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I apologize for there being 2 comments actually. I started the comment on my phone then transferred to my computer. Something went wrong in the transfer. You got 2 comments. I didn’t mean for that to happen.

        I shared your post with my 10year old, she said oh no!! You don’t need encouragement on this topic!!! LOL!!!

        I felt so validated. So thank you!! Like hey Kids, I’m not talking non-sense all the time. Who would have thought?

        Like

        1. Of course, you are not talking nonsense, but each kids is different. My daughter never liked to talk about stuff like this but the two boys did. She finds talking about it makes it feel worse. That was both interesting and a challenge for me. I had to wait for the opportunity to speak about it. Sometimes she wouldn’t listen but occasionally she might hear something that helped her. We can only try and they have to be ready to hear.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. And a great quote as a reply to my post, PtP. I don’t take any medication, but that is one pill I would happily swallow and try to do it in a metaphorical sense every day. I always fail at some point during the day, but I notice I need to reprimand myself less often. Positivity is infectious, in a good way!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. And that is a wonderful distraction strategy. Singing is so good for the mind, body and soul. I used to be in a choir and they would often extol the virtues of singing every day. There is some association with increased life expectancy also!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. You are so right about always and never. Words that we give way too much power to, and which obscure the truth of any given situation. I don’t think any of us are consistent enough in our behavior to be always or never anything! Unfortunately, we usually use those words when describing something negative.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mostly the words: ‘always’ and ‘never’ are used negatively, and perhaps occasionally, in a positive exagerration. You are so right Dorothy when you say that humans are not consistent enough to use the words in their literal sense.
      When used negatively, they are so powerful they can initiate conflict when the listener feels they are unfairly treated as they know it is not in reality ‘always,’ or ‘never.’ It is more accurate to replace those words with the word ‘sometimes! I can think of times when feeling annoyed that household chores were not done and using, “You never…..” words. I shudder to think how inaccurate they were. Thanks for your valued comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So right. Often we compare ourselves as well to others when each of us are running our own race. It’s something I need to keep reminding myself. My brain likes to dwell on matters that cannot be changed at the present but there I am when I could be doing and thinking about things that I can change!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. There is so much out there in the big wide world both good and bad . . . why on earth think about yourself half the time ! What a damn waste of life’s hours !! Methinks we all know the warm feeling when matters have gone beautifully right . . . and most of us realize when we have ‘put our foot in it’ !! Enjoy and share the first and learn from the second . . .but stay yourself and don’t judge ! Hmm . . . and pick your circumstances . . . sometimes it is wise to turn those six and a half degrees away from where you are . . .

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are so naturally wise, Eha!! You are spot on that there is so much else to think about, so why think about yourself half the time. It does us no good but at times of worry, we continue to do it.

      Like

  9. My critical inner voice was always holding me back. This week I took charge of it by starting on a journey with a confidence coach I stumbled across online. Affirmations and journaling first thing in the morning this past week really helped me stave off that negative voice. Stress and anxiety were immediately lighter and happiness was abundant. Thanks for the post. It validated my new journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds great that you have been able to take charge of your feelings and direct them in a more positive way along a new path. Keep it up as you will come to know yourself in a way you never thought possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think the problem that most of us have is that we see life in extremes, we want the good but aren’t prepared to go to the bad to get it. I’ve seen life in such a profoundly different way since I’ve been reading Taoism.

    Like

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