What does your inner voice sound like? Is it chatty, and does it follow you around all day, often highlighting your flaws, disapproving of your behaviour and attacking you?
Click start to play today’s Spell it, where we zoom in on our inner ‘critic’.
According to a February 2020 report in US-based psychology news website Psychology Today, there isn’t just one version of an inner critic. One type is called the inadequate self, and you find yourself listening to this voice when you don’t succeed at something, or make a mistake – it reprimands you severely, bringing up older memories and making you feel incompetent. Another type of inner critic is the hated self, which makes itself known when you face a defeat – it’s full of animosity and sharp judgment.
Let’s face it. With all that chatter, sometimes, we just want to turn down the volume inside our heads. But a January 2010 report in US-based business news website Harvard Business Review (HBR) states that trying to suppress or ignore one’s inner critic doesn’t work. In fact, it may lead to a rebound effect, where the negative thoughts become stronger in intensity and frequency.
The trick is to acknowledge what your inner critic is trying to tell you, but to also not be bullied by it. Here are a few strategies to do so, according to HBR:
1. Examine your inner critic
It might be awkward at first, but try talking to your inner critic, and asking it where it comes from. Tracing its origins can help you recognise when it’s telling the truth and when to disregard what it says. For instance, could its harsh voice reflect a difficult childhood with parents who were hard to please?
2. It can actually help you
If you are open to what your inner critic is trying to tell you, you could learn from it. It can help you set and meet your own exacting standards, and remind you about your knowledge and capabilities.
3. Don’t give it too much power
Even as it can help, it can hinder your progress if you give it too much power. Maintain the right distance and listen to it as long as the information it provides is helpful to you. When it begins to complain or deplete your confidence, take charge, be decisive and act despite its negativity.