Every once in a while, that little voice that lives in the back of your mind pops up to highlight the least glamorous parts of who you are. It pinpoints physical flaws and obsesses over perceived character flaws and personal failures. This inner critic is always ready to jump into action when you’re at your lowest, and if you’re not careful, the snowball effect can come into full swing.
Over time, it is easier to recognize when the snowball effect has set in. Typically, by this point, the inner critic has become a habit. Whether it was a behavior gleaned from others’ examples, directly told to you, or implemented through your own doing, you have accepted and reinforced this thought pattern.
That’s right! You have been doing this to yourself, and understanding why this thought pattern began is not as important as realizing that its persistence is all your own doing. There is no one in your mind telling you what to think, except you. I know that sometimes it may feel like you have no power over these thoughts. They just pop up at the perfectly negative moment. If there is one thing that meditation teaches you, however, it is to observe your thoughts…and let them go.
Low moments will never disappear. There will be a time when you are heartbroken, disappointed, or simply exhausted, but that does not mean that you need to make it worse by letting this inner critic run free. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you have been doing this to yourself for months, or even years. It takes practice and consistency.
In such moments where your inner critic pops up to add some spice to your low point, remind yourself to stop. Literally, tell yourself, “No, I do not need to make this worse.” Then, remind yourself of the facts of the situation. What actually happened? What are the actual implications? Most often, it’s just a learning moment with nothing to really feel negative or anxious about.
Overcoming this inner critic takes time. Practice the above and don’t let your negative emotions get the best of you. That doesn’t mean to stop working on improving yourself. Again, stop, and ask yourself the questions above, and move forward.
It will be a work in progress, but it will get better with practice and consistency.
Marisol Moran, MPA, MSC, CPC