The Inner Critic~Increases Stress!

The inner critic is always watching and always wants to be sure you know what you "can't" do.

The inner critic increases your stress. The inner critic is that piece of you that is watching everything you do, say, and think and passing judgement. Another way to describe this is ‘self-talk.’ We all have one, but sometimes the critic runs rampant and our stress levels rise. You can quell the power of the inner critic and help to decrease your stress levels, but you have to take some consistent steps to do this.

Who is the Inner critic?

Simply put the inner critic is you. More specifically the inner critic is your thoughts about you. In their book Self Esteem Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning refer to the “pathological critic” and while the critic can indeed be pathological, we need not allow the critic to call the shots. Allowing the inner critic to call the shots increases stress. We can all learn to recognize when we are being hounded by the critic and then learn to put the critic in its place.

Recognizing the Inner Critic.

The inner critic tends to show up any time there is a shift in mood. It also likes to judge your decisions. It may be the smallest of decisions such as whether to start a new exercise program. But it could also be a big life decision. Big or small the inner critic does not discriminate. The inner critic likes to create inner chaos.

A few weeks ago in the post Stress and Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors we discussed how inaccurate thinking can increase the stress. This is the place the inner critic hides. The critic may make it difficult to identify when thoughts are not accurate.

You may start to notice that the critic shows up in the same types of scenarios. It can be somewhat predictable which is helpful because once you start to notice you can begin to plan strategies to disrupt the critic.

How To Tame The Critic

So how do we tame the critic? Easy, start to talk back. Once you are aware that the citric is influencing your decisions you can begin to take back your power. Becoming aware of when the critic is most likely to show up is key. For example I used to have a lot of difficulty speaking up in groups. My inner critic was very good at telling me “no one cares what you have to say.” And for a long time, I fell for it. But then I started to pay closer attention and found that others actually wanted me to speak up. Over time I was able to consistently challenge the critic (i.e. challenge the distorted thought “no one cares what you have to say”) and I began to become more at ease with speaking in groups. It didn’t happen over night, but it did happen.

It can help to ask yourself a few questions:

  • If my best friend had this thought would I tell them the same?
  • What evidence do I have that this is accurate?
  • If I look back on this in a few years how will it look?
  • How has this type of thought helped or hurt me in the past?

Often just answering questions like these starts to loosen the critic’s grip. The critic does not like to be questioned.

Once you begin to challenge the critic you may find your stress levels begin to go down.

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Thanks for dropping by! Have a great day. ~ Lynda

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