We all talk to ourselves. Whether or not we speak aloud, we all have a constant inner dialog going on. What’s the tone of your inner dialog? Is it like having a conversation with a sergeant in the Army, one of Bravo TV’s nastiest housewives, your father, or your best friend? In your head, who are you talking to all day?
You might be surprised when you start paying closer attention to the words and tone of your inner voice. For many people that voice can be downright nasty. Some folks are pestered by an inner voice demanding perfection. Other people carry the voice of a critical parent, a snarky classmate from high school, or a bossy sibling.
One of the first steps in creating a better life is noticing and naming this inner critic. By paying attention to when it comes up and identifying the words and tone, we can start the process of gaining distance from it. We can’t change these thoughts until we know they are there.
Once we get good at noticing this critical voice we can begin to respond to it more effectively. In fact, we can strive to follow this rule: each thought about ourselves must pass all three of these tests before we let it in:
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it kind?
Most people are very attached to their inner critic and don’t want to give it up right away. It did serve a noble purpose at one time (hint: it’s there to keep you safe) and it can be scary to let go of that. I’ll explain the inner critic’s misguided attempt to be helpful in a future article.
One good way to begin to soften your attachment to your inner critic is to ask yourself: Would I talk this way to my closest friend? To my favorite 6-year-old niece or nephew? To a loving grandparent? Your child? If it is too harsh to say to someone you love then it is too critical to say to yourself.