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Silence Your Inner Critic with Self-Serving Questions

New Year goals & the inner debate - Each new year is often viewed as an opportunity to set goals that we desire to achieve. But for many of us it is also a reminder of everything we have not accomplished over the past several years. As a result we debate ourselves about if we should make this year “Our Year” or if we should give in to our Inner Critic. Our Inner Critic is the voice within, it tells us that we don’t have what it takes to accomplish our goals, it encourages us not to work toward bettering ourselves, and it says things to hurt our self-esteem.

About the Inner Critic- Google defines a critic as one “who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something.” Our Inner Critic does just that, it provides us with its negative opinions on our abilities. We must understand that although it is persistent, and speaks very loudly to us, it doesn’t have our best interest in mind and we don’t have to accept what it says as our truth. Despite its cruel intentions many of us give in to it because when we do it allows us to stay in our comfort zone and do what is easy. It also keeps us from reaching our full potential and fulfilling our deepest desires. I say it’s time for us to fight back and stop giving in to the Inner Critic.

Increase awareness to avoid giving in to your Inner Critic- I encourage you to pay close attention to your Inner Critic to figure out how it operates and when it is most likely to show up in your life. Once you are more aware of it, you are able to become more strategic in your fight against it.

I describe my Inner Critic as a two-faced friend who has secret intentions to destroy me and steal all of my confidence. Here’s why: It tells me that it’s ok to put off completing tasks, but then insults me when I’m scrambling to complete a project at the last minute. It tells me that if I didn’t accomplish something in my past, I’ll never be able to achieve it in the future. It tries to convince me that I should not dream big, and then triggers self-doubt, fear, and lack of motivation when I do. But because I’m more aware of how my Inner Critic works, I don’t give in to it as often. Answer the questions below to increase your awareness of how your Inner Critic operates.

  1. What things does it do/say to discourage you?

  2. When does it seem to show up?

  3. How would you describe your Inner Critic? Why?

  4. What is your Inner Critic’s goal for your life?

  5. If your Inner Critic was an actual person how would you respond to his/her advice?

  6. How can your answers from questions 1-5 help you manage your Inner Critic?

How to silence your Inner Critic – Question it to death… literally. The amazing thing about our brain is that it is always working, wondering and trying to find answers. We need to use that to our advantage. Asking your brain questions can be helpful or harmful depending on the questions asked. For example, you may ask yourself, “why can’t I ever accomplish any of my New Year Resolutions?” If we ask that question, our brain will find answers that may be hurtful like: because you are lazy, not good enough, incapable, worthless, and so on. But if we ask “what can I do to ensure that I accomplish my goal this year?" it may say: get an accountability partner or a Life Coach, create attainable action steps, spend less time on social media, find ways to spend less money, etc. We have to make sure that we ask ourselves questions that will produce helpful answers instead of answers that hurt and discourage us.

The Question Experiment: Listed below in section #1 there are several questions that can produce negative answers/insults. In section #2 you will find questions that can produce positive answers/solutions. First, ask yourself the questions in section #1 and pay attention to the answers you come up with and how they make you feel. Do the same in section 2, and then compare the differences. Post your observations in the comments section.

Section #1

  • Why am I so stupid?

  • Why can’t I ever reach my goals?

  • Why can’t I stop smoking/drinking/overeating, etc.?

  • Why do I keep failing at relationships/in school /at work?

  • Why do I always quit?

Section #2

  • How can I make better choices?

  • What can I do to make sure that I follow through?

  • How can I avoid the temptation of drinking / smoking?

  • What steps can I take to improve my relationships/school/work?

  • How can I avoid quitting this time?

Challenge for the Week:

  • Answer the 6 questions in the Inner Critic Awareness section above.

  • Over the next week, keep track of when/how your Inner Critic shows up.

  • For the next seven days be intentional about asking yourself questions that will produce positive answers/solutions. Avoid questions that produce negative answers/insults. (Samples of positive questions can be found in section #2)

Your Comments are Welcome

  • Let me know what you've learned about your Inner Critic.

  • I'd love to here how you benefit from completing this weeks challenge.

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