By Alexis Ward, MFT
How would you describe your relationship with yourself and your inner critic? In moments of stress, is your internal dialogue supportive and loving or critical and demeaning? Think about the way you speak to yourself throughout the course of the day. Imagine if you were to speak to someone you love this way. Most of us would never speak to someone else the way we speak to ourselves. We tend to be far more cognizant of the way we treat those around us, often neglecting the relationship we have with ourselves entirely. If this sounds like you, it will take some work to shift that pattern.
Here are some suggestions to shift your self talk to something more supportive and loving:
- Bring awareness to your internal critic. Awareness is 99% of all change. Start noticing how you treat yourself. Are you shaming and blaming yourself in challenging moments?
- Notice how that feels in your body. Does your body tense up when you are judging yourself? Do you contract or expand? Where do you feel the judgment in your body?
- Invite and encourage a supportive voice in. If you were talking to a friend who was condemning themself, what would say to them? How might you show yourself compassion?
- Ask yourself how you can best support yourself in this moment. What do you need right now? Maybe you are hungry, tired, in need of a call to a friend, a walk in nature. Start showing up for yourself regularly and looking for ways to support yourself during times of stress.
Your inner critic and your inner supportive voice are both paths that are always available.
If you have solely been choosing the path of the inner critic, you may not even realize there is another option. By consciously directing yourself down a new path, you begin to retrain your brain. Where your focus goes, energy flows. The more you choose the path of inner support over self-judgment, the more galvanized that neural pathway will be. Eventually the tendency to love and support yourself becomes innate and a whole new level of self-trust becomes available.