It is not until we recognise and begin to truly listen to these negative voices that we can begin to do something to silence them and to replace them with kinder and more life affirming messages. To begin with it is a valuable exercise to start compiling a list as soon as the inner critic pops into your head and to consciously observe and note down each word or phrase. This can be an eye opening exercise and can reveal just how insidious and nasty some of these messages to ourselves are. Remember the inner critic is not only describing you in unflattering and derogatory terms such as, fat, lazy, stupid, flaky etc it is also the peremptory voice that is hell bent on pointing out what you ‘should’, shouldn’t’, ‘must’, ‘mustn’t’, be doing, thinking or acting at any given moment.
The next stage of this process of becoming more compassionate towards yourself is to identity where some of these negative and limiting thoughts come from, whether from early childhood experiences of a critical parent or a significant adult or more recently from a colleague or friend. It can often surprise people when they can pin point exactly who said what when and to get in touch with the feelings that these hurtful comments and remarks stir up in them to this day. This by the way is where your Creative Journal (see earlier blog) can help you in expressing these feelings. Finally by replacing the negative thoughts with thoughts that are more realistic and fairer or by using an affirmation each time you catch yourself thinking in the old limiting way will with time, dedication and persistence eventually silence the inner critic.