As much as we all want to be confident, self-assured women, there’s a nagging little voice inside our head that tries to tell us we can’t be — that we’re inadequate, we’re weak, we’re unworthy. It’s one thing to be aware of our shortcomings, but quite another to be self-critical and demeaning toward ourselves because of them.
When we notice our thoughts becoming less than kind and supportive toward ourselves, though, what can we do? How do we banish self-doubt and manifest the strong women that we are?
Years ago, two friends of mine both found themselves suffering from intense loneliness, each one harboring her feelings in secret, telling herself that she had no friends and was unwanted. During a small gathering one evening, however, both ladies admitted their feelings aloud and as soon as each one heard the other, their reaction turned from one of disbelief to one of laughter. In hearing how untrue the other’s beliefs about herself were, both women were better able to recognize and release their own sense of self-doubt.
When we’re struggling with critical thoughts, confiding in our friends like this is often the most effective means of affirming our worth and helping us separate the truth from the lies. Our loved ones tend to see the best in us even when we don’t, so hearing their positive words can be just the encouragement we need to overcome our self-judgments. In fact, sometimes just imagining what our friends would tell our inner critics can be reassuring and a pertinent reminder of what’s true and lovable about ourselves.
It is also helpful to consider the counter-evidence to our critical thoughts. We tend to spotlight and exaggerate our perceived flaws in our mind without stopping to contemplate their influence in light of our good attributes and achievements. We slip up once and tell ourselves that we’re a complete failure, glossing over the things we’re proud of and ignoring the full picture. Yet, when we focus more on what we are than what we’re not and seek to reinforce our strengths, we’re able to re-calibrate our perspectives and see who we are in a more whole and positive context.
… sometimes just imagining what our friends would tell our inner critics can be reassuring and a pertinent reminder of what’s true and lovable about ourselves.
Learning to be kinder to ourselves in our thoughts is a process, and sometimes self-criticism is a hole we can’t dig ourselves out of alone. But, when we commit to seeing the truth about ourselves and strive to cultivate positive perspectives and balance, it will become easier to ignore – and ultimately, to silence – our inner critic.
What do you hear your inner critic say that you know isn’t true? How do you silence it?
Image via Hanna Voxland