We all have a voice inside our heads that tells us we’re not good enough. Some of the mindfulness techniques that I help clients learn deal this exact problem. “I can’t do this,” the voice says.
“I’ll never get what I want.”
“I’m not smart enough.”
“Why even try?”
This is your inner critic, and, as much as it gets in the way of your goals, it’s only trying to protect you. When you want to take a leap of faith—emotionally, professionally, spiritually—it tries to pull you back from the ledge. It is the voice of fear, and fear is one of the most powerful motivators out there. Fear serves a purpose, but not all fear is rational or even healthy. Your inner critic wants you to stay just the way you are because the way you are right now is comfortable, warm, and safe.
You know what you are capable of in your comfort zone. You know all the rules. Heck, you wrote the rules. To go outside that space is to reach beyond your perceived limits.
To realize your goals, you need to come to terms with your inner critic. Here are three mindfulness techniques that will help you do that.
Become Friends with your Inner Critic
Your inner critic is there to protect you from emotional injury. That’s got to count for something—in other words, your inner critic has value. You need to acknowledge that value. Because your inner critic is a part of you, you need to embrace it with love the same way you love the rest of what makes you the person you are.
Think of it this way. Friends disagree all the time, but disagreement doesn’t have to mean that you stop talking to each other. Ignoring your inner critic through strength of will does not work. Instead, learn to recognize when your inner critic is speaking to you. The next time your inner critic tries to protect you by limiting your world, speak back to it.
You might feel silly doing it the first time, but I’m amazed every time that I do it just how effective this mindfulness technique is. Say something like “I value your input, and I understand that you’re only trying to protect me, but l disagree. I am good enough. I can do anything.”
Recognize Harmful Patterns
The first part of becoming friends with your inner critic is learning to recognize when the things it says are harmful. Ask yourself whether you’ve fallen into negative thinking. How does this type of thinking serve you? Once you start to recognize when your inner critic is talking you’ll be able to see the harmful pattern that emerges.
Turn Negative Thoughts into Action
Sometimes your inner critic is right. Your goals might be out of your reach at the moment, but it’s not because of any inherent character flaw that you have. If you find that your goals are out of reach you have two choices: give up or make a plan to work on small goals that will help you reach your big goals. There is no more effective way to silence your inner critic than proving it wrong.
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