We all have an inner critic. You know the kind of thing I mean – that voice inside your head that says stuff like, “You’re ugly” or “you’re not good enough” or “this isn’t going to work” or “everyone can see right through you”.
It can be a whisper, a normal speaking voice, or even a shout. It might sound like someone you know – maybe a domineering relative or a critical boss. Or it might sound like someone you’ve seen on TV – Alan Sugar maybe, or Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. It might even be your own voice.
You hear it when you’re at work, when you’re trying to do something new, maybe when you’re getting ready to go out on a date. And when you listen it can really get to you, drag you down so you believe it. Before you know it you’ve decided it’s right, you really are the biggest waste of space the world has ever known.
But you have a choice. You don’t have to listen to your inner critic. You can stop it before it gets the chance to do any damage. The next time you hear it, imagine you’re shouting the word “STOP”. See that word in your mind’s eye in big bright red letters. Imagine your hand going out, palm to the front, like a policeman stopping traffic.
If you prefer, you can imagine shouting something else to your critic – “leave me alone” or “I’m not listening to you” or “you’re wrong”. You can even use something I’m too polite to write here if it works for you. Imagine yourself whistling a happy tune or locking your inner critic in a cage. Try anything that reminds you that you’re in control and an imaginary voice can’t really hurt you.
Then think of something positive, the opposite of whatever the critic was saying. Something like “I’m beautiful” or “I know I’m good enough” or “I’m confident this will work” or “everyone can see just how good I am”. You might find this difficult at first but keep trying and it will get easier.
If you keep doing this, you’ll find that critical voice will bother you less frequently, it’ll be quieter, and eventually will just give up altogether because it realises that you’re not listening.
And you will start to feel better about yourself.