4 techniques to say ‘bye’ to your inner critic, ‘hi’ to your inner nurturer and stop judging yourself.
Earlier, we spoke about feeling guilty after overeating or a moment of indulging. We explained that these negative feelings often have to do with the fear of being judged, either by yourself or by others. These opinions come from your upbringing, society and personal beliefs. The way you speak to yourself and decide whether to either love or hate yourself has everything to do with your inner voice. Your inner voice develops in childhood and is, among other things, shaped by the way we are spoken to. In this blog, you’ll learn to practise self-compassion to gain self-confidence.
Think of your thoughts and ‘that’ voice inside your head. We all have a voice that tells us whether things are good or bad. It decides whether you’re right or wrong. It also tells you whether to do or not to do something. It protects you, but can also ruin you.
What is your inner voice?
Now, before we dive into this, I think it’s important to highlight two terms you might have seen before. Your ‘inner critic’ and ‘inner nurturer’.
Your inner critic is the voice inside your head that judges whether things are good or bad. Critic comes from the verb to criticise which means to judge. Makes sense, right?
Your inner nurturer is your support. It cheers you up, validates feelings, desires and thoughts. It offers comfort and soothes you. It’s there to help you grow and keep your feet on the ground. Think of it as your friend.
For many people, however, the inner critic is more present than the inner nurturer and on top of that, overly critical. A highly active inner-critic can bring you down tremendously. It has a massive impact on your emotional well-being and self-esteem. It causes your feelings of insecurity, embarrassment, guilt, fear and anxiety.
What is your inner critic?
The inner-critic hides in your subconscious or your subconscious mind. It’s been there since you were a child, replaying the same thoughts and ideas like a broken record. Repetition will help you to remember and eventually believe. When we learn a language for example, we recommend repetition, but when you repeat thoughts and ideas that are negative and self-destructive, you create low self-esteem and those famous ‘limiting beliefs’.
If you don’t fight this voice, your inner critic will be most dominant and forever leave you with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. It’s self-sabotaging and there’s no one to blame, because it’s all happening in your own head. Even though this voice is strong as hell and challenging to fight, it’s not impossible.
Practice self-compassion to gain self-confidence.
For years, I’ve been dealing with an extremely strict and over analytical inner voice. And I would never want to give you the impression that I’ve been able to completely win this game. But, by practising self-compassion and therefore developing my inner-nurturer I’ve overcome jealousy, controlling behaviour, serious eating disorders and extremely low self-esteem.
What I’d like to share with you today are tools you could use to start training your inner nurturer, acknowledge your inner-critic, but detach from its limiting beliefs and feed your mind with new ideas and a fresh perspective to become more confident and feel at ease in your own head. This will not only help you to limit self-sabotage (such as overeating or not eating at all), but also improve your relationship with others.
1. Write down your thoughts (every day).
This is by far the most used technique, and for a good reason! Writing about emotions activates a different part of the brain than inner reflection (the internal dialogue) or speaking out loud. The positive effects of writing 3 days in a row will remain for three months, if not more.
When you notice your inner critic downgrading yourself with thoughts such as ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t do anything right’, ‘I’m absolutely useless’, ‘I am a mess’, ‘I’m so stupid’ or ‘I will never succeed’. Write these things down.
Seeing your thoughts on paper instead of only hearing them will make you look at them with a different perspective (go to tool 2).
Reading your thoughts might be painful, especially if you’ve been dealing with self-sabotage for a long time (read your whole life), but here’s where your inner nurturer could give you some support.
2. Let your inner nurturer speak as if it’s speaking to your friend.
Your inner nurturer might have been quiet for a while, but you too have one inside of you. Your inner nurturer probably uses the same vocabulary as you use when speaking to a friend. Go to your journal and look at the things you wrote down during a moment of self-destructiveness.
What would you tell your friend, if they’d told you: ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t do anything right’, ‘I’m absolutely useless’, ‘I am a mess’, ‘I’m so stupid’ or ‘I will never succeed’.
Would you agree? Would you emphasise how bad they’ve been? Would you tell them to give up? Would you acknowledge their worthlessness? Probably not! But it’s often what you do when it comes to yourself.
3. What could your inner nurturer tell ‘your friend’ (yourself) instead?
Write down the support, compliments, and positive wishes you’d tell and share with your friend, e.g.: ‘It’s okay to feel shit, but it’s unrealistic to downgrade all your efforts. Instead look at how far you’ve come’. Or ‘you may feel useless at the moment, but instead learn from your mistakes. Next time you will know where you’ve gone wrong, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes twice’.
4. Ask yourself what you need and create self-compassion!
If you suffer from self-pity and feel like everything is your fault, ask yourself how realistic these thoughts really are. It’s easy to sink deeper and deeper and eventually lose all self-belief. Ask yourself positive questions to create more self-compassion.
For example: ‘What do I really need?’. The answer could be: ‘a listening ear’ or ‘a shoulder to cry on’. And know that that is okay! Another example: ‘What if I don’t have to achieve as much as I believe or tell myself I have to?’. The answer could be: ‘I’d be more rested’ or ‘I’d have more time for my family and friends’. And the last one: ‘What if I loved myself the same as I love my partner?’. The answer could be: ‘I’d be more accepting of myself’ or ‘I’d be more self-compassionate’.
Explore questions like these for yourself and come up with your own answers. You’ll be flabbergasted by how hard on yourself you actually are.
5. Gain self-confidence by cultivating a gratitude attitude.
In the modern world, it’s so easy to sink into an ocean of negativity and find yourself comparing yourself to others, their successes and achievements. We often strive for the same as they have and, preferably, even more. But don’t forget what you see is maybe 10% of what’s going on in their real life. You don’t see the efforts they make or the time and energy they spend on making things work. Instead, shift your perspective and focus on gratitude for what you already have accomplished, your talents, your skills and your capabilities.
Writing and expressing your gratitude not only helps you to lower the chances of depression, loneliness and anxiety, but it also stops you from comparing yourself to others, feelings of jealousy and envy.
It helps you to enjoy the little things more and make them more worthwhile. It’s contagious; when you are grateful, others pick up on it and, in the long run, causes a domino effect. It stimulates positive feelings, even when life is taking its toll, you’ll be able to focus on the positive side instead of the negative.
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