Last month I shared the importance of creating space to meet your needs too. As a working mom, you often feel pulled in every direction. And instead of slowing down and considering what you need too, you tune out or speed up. Because if you did slow down, you would hear this nagging inner critic (or a gang of inner critics) that motivate you by driving you to go-go-go as well as make you feel bad about not getting to everything. Or your inner critic convinces you to not accept help because you want things to be done a certain way. Regardless of what your inner critic is saying to you, it’s making the stress of being a working mom so much worse.
Before you try to evict your inner critic, know she probably isn’t going anywhere. She cares about you and thinks she’s trying to help you by protecting you. And no, you aren’t going crazy because you are talking to yourself. In fact, when your inner critic appears, it may actually be a good sign…a signal that you are growing and trying new things. Because when there is change, your inner critic gets freaked out.
Truth is, when your inner critic appears, it may “mean you are growing and risking, stretching yourself to new heights, opening up your heart to more love and your life to more possibility, and that’s good news” (Ahlers & Arylo, Reform Your Inner Mean Girl, 2015).
Whether or not your inner critic is showing up because you are stressed out or on the edge of evolving, there are ways to transform how you talk to yourself. Life can be hard enough, and we don’t need to stay stuck pressuring ourselves to do more when we are already doing enough! If you want to find new ways to talk to yourself without adding more stress, keep reading.
5 Steps to Transform Your Inner Critic:
Women aren’t the only one with inner critics, so men this is for you too. This is for anyone who wants to learn more about how their inner critic impacts them and what they can do instead of believing the lies.
1. Identify Your Inner Critics’ Triggers: When does your inner critic get chatty and more vocal? Identify what situations, circumstances, feelings, or with what people your negative, mental chatter gets more noticeable.
2. Recognize When Your Inner Critic is Lying: You may currently believe what your inner critic is telling you. For instance, that you aren’t good enough, that someone else is doing it better, that you’ll never be happy, etc. When you are anxious, stressed, or trying something new, it may trigger fear and your inner critic may jump in with lies to try to protect you. Recognize when your inner critic is lying to you.
3. Disrupt the Inner Critic: Most inner critics like to talk and talk and talk. You will need to be stern and talk back like you would a bully. Don’t break the inner critic, just tell her/him: “I’m not going to listen to that anymore.” Or find your own voice to disrupt the mental chatter.
4. Discern Truth from Lies: Instead of focusing on the evidence that the inner critic’s lies are true, switch your focus to looking for evidence of the opposite. For example, instead of looking for the evidence that you ‘didn’t get enough done today,’ focus on all the ways “you did get stuff done.’
5. Replace with Affirming Truths: If a loved one came to you and shared their self-critical thoughts with you, then you would probably disagree with them. Do the same for yourself. Replace the negative, self-critical talk with the most gentle, kind, and compassionate thing you can think to say to yourself. For instance, instead of telling yourself “I should be able to do more in a day,” replace it with something that affirms and supports you as a friend would. Such as, “I’m am doing enough. Taking care of myself is just as important as getting stuff done.”
And if you want to go through a more in-depth process including taking a quiz to identify your inner critic type, check out Amy Ahlers & Christine Arylo’s book on Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself & Start Loving Yourself. (It’s one of my top 3 picks for self-help books to read this year!) Everyone has an inner critic, even therapists who talk to others about their inner critics. So far, I have used the 7-step process in this book to transform my “comparison queen” into someone who can help me spot those that inspire me and notice the ways that I’m already shining too. Doing the deep work of transformation is worth it.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC is a professional counselor in Independence MO who works with men, women, and teens who are stressed out, anxious and burned out. If you want to learn to love yourself as much as you love others, so you can create a life you desire instead of only focusing on what others desire of you, schedule a free 15-minute phone consult with Marci. Together, we will decide if I’m the best counselor for you.