How to start using your inner critic to your advantage.
We’ve all experienced the wrath of our inner mean girl—that bitchy voice inside our heads that feels the need to chime in every time we’ve made a mistake, are having a bad day, or feel like a run down piece of… well, you know. We listen, not because we think she’s right, but because we think the whole “tough love” thing will push us to work harder and be a better person—and when it doesn’t, we think there must be something wrong with us.
If your inner critic has trapped you in a spiral of perfectionism and self-loathing, here are six ways you can put the kibosh on your thoughts of mass destruction:
1. Put yourself first
You know the drill: Your inner critic goes on a tangent every time you let work get in the way of things like working out, eating healthier, and resting—yet when you finally do take the time to decompress, you’re suddenly criticized for letting people down or being irresponsible with how you’re spending your time. Just because your inner critic is trying to drag you into a lose-lose situation doesn’t mean you have to act on it.
2. Accept yourself
There are just as many things you like about yourself as things you don’t, but your inner critic forces you to overanalyze your flaws and obsess over every mistake you’ve ever made. Start treating yourself like you would a friend: You’d never torture your BFF about bad decisions she’s made, and you definitely wouldn’t allow her to talk badly of herself. You accept her for exactly who she is, so why not offer yourself the same empathy and understanding?
3. Ditch the guilt
Mistakes happen, but torturing yourself about them doesn’t have to. Thinking you’re an awful person who doesn’t deserve to be spit on is self-indulgent. Ditch the wallowing and take action: Is it a mistake than can be fixed or apologized for? If so, take the steps to do so. If not, apply what you’ve learned to your life in some way, and use your experiences to help other people do the same.
4. Nurture yourself
It’s impossible to go full steam ahead in every area of your life simultaneously. There will be days when you’re exhausted, unmotivated, can’t focus, or all three—and this is when your inner critic loves to strike most. When you’re feeling off, go easy on yourself. If you’re in the middle of a late-night work session, don’t begrudge yourself the extra piece of cheesecake. If you have an unexpected family thing, don’t feel bad about rescheduling your appointments. Make one area the priority for that day, and let the rest of your chips fall where they may.
5. Take a mental vacay
Working long hours and constantly checking your phone are tough habits to break. And when you try to, your inner critic makes you feel as if your life will crumble if you do, like you’re less of a person if you’re not keeping up. But what good are you to the world if you’re an exhausted shell of your former self? Book tech-free time into your schedule as often as you can, and reconnect with the parts of yourself your inner critic has been pressuring you to neglect.
6. Balance the scales
For every crappy thing your inner critic has to say, counter it with a compliment to yourself, or celebrate the things that did go right that day. Eventually, you’ll start to notice that your daily victories heavily outweigh your shortcomings, and soon your inner mean girl will become nothing more than that bitch who annoyed you once.
How do you deal with your inner critic?
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