Good News: Your Inner Critic Doesn’t Get to Drive
Let’s get real and personal today.
Let’s stop pretending that we have it together all the time.
Let’s actually be honest about what goes on inside our minds.
Here, I’ll go first … by introducing you to Bertha.
I created her back in 2016 as part of a thought work exercise. I call her “Beat-her-up Bertha”. (She’s wearing boxing gloves.)
She’s the personification of my repeated false truths.
Her thoughts are harsh and negative.
She likes to say “ You’re not (confident, successful, smart, outgoing) enough.”
Or, “You can’t do this.”
Even when I DO something I’m proud of, Bertha likes to tell me all the ways it could be better. I could be better.
It’s always a No-Win with her.
What Does Your Inner Critic Say?
What does your Bertha say? What does she sound like?
Maybe your inner critic delivers thoughts of not-enoughness or laziness. Perhaps she tells you that you are a bad parent, friend, or daughter. She might tell you that you are SO (disorganized, stupid, late all the time).
Here’s the thing: just because those thoughts get more airplay doesn’t mean they are true.
These thoughts of ours are not The Absolute Truth.
They aren’t even the whole truth about us. (What about the things we do well, the times that we’re kind? Our Berthas don’t acknowledge any of that.)
Yet, these thoughts of ours become our false truth when we say them to ourselves over and over.
Our lives are always a reflection of what we are currently believing.
The lives we have right now are the result of our most frequently practiced thoughts.
Since our thoughts create our reality, it makes sense to pay closer attention to the language we use toward ourselves.
How to Feel Better in Your Everyday Life
How might your life feel different if your “Bertha” were sitting quietly in the corner, rather than incessantly chattering, day in, day out?
Better still, how would it feel if you could actually feel compassion for her? What if you were able to send love to her, knowing that beneath all of her harsh words, she’s just trying to keep you safe?
So often we combat the heaviness that Bertha creates by overshopping, overeating, overdrinking, overscrolling, avoidance, and procrastination.
We believe these actions are the problem.
Yet what if these behaviors are nothing more than the symptom of life created when Bertha has access to the megaphone?
Our lives reflect Bertha’s volume, and how much we choose to believe her story. The good news is, we don’t have to disown her – we just need to protect and nurture our minds and hearts.
Where the Real Work Begins
So how do we actually change our inner dialogue?
To identify well-versed negative thinking, you’ll need to look for patterns. Initially, identifying your thoughts and capturing them in the moment can be challenging.
It might be easier to first become familiar with physical sensations in your body.
Personally, I often feel tightness in my body, before I’m able to catch the thought creating it. With practice I can trace the tightness back to a thought.
You can try this same approach. Zero in on a particular physical sensation, then trace it back to a thought.
Notice when the sensations or feelings arise. Is it while in the presence of a certain person or in a specific environment? Maybe it occurs at the same time of day, or during a certain activity.
Identifying the thought is the first step to turning it around.
The second step is to begin talking to yourself in a kinder, gentler way.
For example, instead of “I can’t do this”, try “I don’t have to do it all. I can start small.”
Or, instead of “I am terrible at this”, try “I am figuring this out” or try adding a modifier like “I’m terrible at this, sometimes. Other times, I’m better at this”.
Create new thoughts that feel more loving, true, and believable to you.
Then, for the third step, practice your new thoughts.
In the same way that our negative thoughts are well-practiced, adopting new thoughts will take time and consistent effort.
We CAN rewire our brains with elevated thinking. I know, because I’ve done it.
That said, my Bertha hasn’t disappeared.
She is still with me. But her voice appears less frequently, and is softer than it used to be.
I know to challenge her truthfulness. I’m learning how to be a better friend to myself, which is key to creating a life that is less stressful, and feels good.
So now, let’s talk about you.
How could YOUR life change if you were fueled by kinder thoughts?
How would things feel different if your “Bertha” wasn’t behind the wheel, but in the back seat?
What would feel more loving right now?
Your body will respond to love.
It is your natural state.
With the release of harsh self-talk, love comes rushing back in.
P.S.- Is your Inner Critic in the driver’s seat? Perhaps it is time to begin listening to a more loving, truthful side of you.
I invite you to sit down with me to a free conversation to discuss what you would like to create in your life, and a plan for it.
My clients are creating healthier, happier lives, with small, impactful changes, from nurtured hearts and minds.
Connect with me to learn more.