Really? You Can’t Expect Me To Believe That Thought! by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Most people have a negative voice that lives inside their head and seems to keep up a constant chatter. This inner critic tells you all the bad things that will happen, all the mistakes you have made and are going to make, and why you will never be good enough.

Managing your inner critical voice is a process that requires patience, self-compassion, and a shift in perspective. This voice may be very loud and strident at times, but it is not telling you the truth. It can seem impossible to stop the negativity. Still, by adopting a few mindful strategies, it is possible to quiet this voice and foster a more positive and affirming inner dialogue.

Calling Out the Untruths

The first step in this process is to recognize that the critical voice is not telling you the truth. It is merely a perspective, often based on past experiences and failures, rather than an objective reality. Acknowledge its presence, but also understand that you have the power to challenge and change this narrative. It is only one side of the story, and you already know it is the negative side.

Next, practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself, especially in moments of self-doubt or criticism. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that perfection is unrealistic. Replace critical thoughts with words of encouragement and support. For instance, if you find yourself thinking, “I always mess things up,” counter that thought with, “Yes, I make mistakes, but I learn and grow from them.”

Not My Inner Voice

Another effective strategy is to distance yourself from the critical voice. Imagine it as a separate person. This person can be someone from your past or a fictional being, and you can even name it if that helps to see it as separate. This mental separation allows you to objectively evaluate the criticisms, discerning which are constructive and which are harmful and untrue. By doing this, you can choose to listen to helpful advice while dismissing unproductive noise.

Mindfulness and meditation also play a crucial role in managing the inner critic. These practices help cultivate an awareness of the present moment, allowing you to observe your thoughts without judgment. Through mindfulness, you learn to let go of negative self-talk and focus on the here and now, which is often more positive and less critical.

In addition, be sure to surround yourself with positivity. Engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself and spend time with people who uplift and support you. Positive external messages and experiences can significantly impact your internal dialogue, reinforcing a more compassionate and encouraging narrative.