In my last blog, I talked about how your self-esteem can affect your love life, but of course if can affect every area of your life – so today I’m going to talk about your inner critic.
Your inner critic is that voice inside your head that tells you you’re worthless. It takes great pleasure in pointing out all the things you’ve done wrong, things you should (or should not) have done or said, and generally makes you feel rubbish.
But here’s the thing – we all have an inner critic (yes, even counsellors!), but its purpose is to keep us safe. We think it’s our enemy, but it’s actually our friend.
We’re not born with this critical voice, but over time, our experiences start to shape how we perceive and understand the world and our inner critic starts to develop based on these experiences, including societal values and expectations.
But, over time, it can start getting a bit too critical of things we do that it perceives as ‘wrong’, and starts treating ‘don’t step out into traffic because you’ll get run over’ with the same power as ‘don’t lie in bed all morning because you’ll waste the day’, and so we start beating ourselves up for having a lie-in on a Saturday morning. And often, it’s not too long before the critical voice turns from ‘you’ve wasted the day’ to ‘you’re not good enough’.
And of course, practice makes perfect, so before we know it, listening to the critical inner voice becomes our automatic default setting - and we believe every word it says.
But you can stop this by making a concerted effort to notice what you’re inner critic is saying.
Is what it’s saying true?
And if it is true, what evidence to you have?
Do have any evidence to counter this?
Remember to be kind to yourself when you do this. None of us are perfect and there are many times when we can look back and wish we had done things differently, but it’s worth remembering that we make decisions based on the information we have at the time – we didn’t have the benefit of hindsight to show us what we could have done differently. In these instances, we just need to treat them as lessons learned.
As I said earlier, our inner critic is there to keep us safe, so treat it as a well-meaning friend. You don’t have to believe everything it says, but you don’t have to be angry at it either. Just thank it for its input and move on in whatever way you see fit.
The more you notice the negative things your inner voice is saying, the greater the opportunity you have to challenge it, and eventually the critical part of your inner voice will have less power. You’ll feel more in control of your life, and feel more positive about yourself.
Your inner voice is your best friend. It will always be with you, so make sure you treat it with the love and kindness you deserve.
Until next time...
We're so good at giving love to others, but not always good at giving the same love to ourselves. But why?
I spent most of my teens and early 20s hating myself. I didn't believe I was worthy of love, or anything else for that matter - I didn't think I was pretty enough, I didn't feel I fitted in, and felt lucky, and grateful, if any boy looked at me twice. I had very few friends and my confidence was at an all-time low.
I'm sharing that so you know that I know what it feels like to not love yourself, and also how hard it can be to start loving yourself when you think you don't deserve it. But if you think you don’t deserve it, then you’re more likely to attract partners who treat you how you believe you deserve to be treated – like crap, to put it bluntly!
If a friend, or even a stranger, told you they hated themselves, would you tell them that they were right? That they were ugly or too shy and not worthy of being loved?
Of course you wouldn't!
You'd point out all the qualities they had that made them a loveable and worthwhile person.
And yet, we can find it so hard to accept and acknowledge the qualities we have ourselves that make us loveable and worthwhile.
As RuPaul (of Drag Race fame) says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”. And, by the same token, how do you expect someone else to love you when you don’t feel like you deserve to be loved?
By recognising the loveable qualities that you have (and you do have some, I promise!) you begin to create a more positive image of yourself, and start a journey of self-acceptance in which you feel happy and confident in yourself, and worthy of being loved.
And when you feel happy, confident and relaxed in your own skin, you’ll start to attract people to you who recognise, and want to be with, people who are comfortable in who they are. It’s a very attractive quality! Plus, because you’ll have more respect for yourself, you’ll also become more discerning about who you want as a partner, rather than just being with someone because they have given you some attention.
Become your own best friend. Talk to yourself kindly and look for those loveable qualities that make you a worthwhile person, who is just as deserving of love as anyone else.
Until next time...
“I’m just not good enough”
How often have you said that to yourself when you’ve struggled with a task or things haven’t gone your way? Or maybe it’s a label you carry around with you every day?
But what is it to be good enough?
You may have had a productive day yesterday, and so you ‘reward’ yourself for being ‘good enough’, but today was a different story…. You didn’t get much sleep last night, the kids were playing up this morning, you burnt the toast for breakfast… all of this meant you were cranky and tired and didn’t get as much done as you’d have liked, so you ‘punish’ yourself for not being ‘good enough’.
The outcome of both days may have been different, but if you take into account all the things that happened today, you were ‘good enough’, just as you were yesterday – it’s just the circumstances that were different.
Maybe all you could do yesterday was get out of bed and sit on the couch – that was your ‘good enough’ for yesterday. But maybe today, even getting out of bed was too much to manage – that was your ‘good enough’ for today.
This time, the differing circumstances could have been anything from being in physical pain, feeling emotionally drained, or just generally not being in the mood to get up!
‘Good enough’ doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. It’s a non-judgemental acceptance that what you do, or who you are, is ‘enough’, whatever the circumstances.
And, as we’ve seen in the examples above, one day’s ‘good enough’ may be different to another day’s ‘good enough’.
Our concept of being good enough (or not) comes from judging ourselves against a set of criteria based on expectations (either our own or other people’s). It’s like we have a checklist in our head, and it’s only if we can tick off all the boxes on the list, that we deem ourselves to be good enough. If not, then we declare ourselves to be not good enough.
But what if you feel you’re not ticking any of the ‘good enough’ boxes?
Then it’s time to closely examine what is on your checklist (a counsellor can help you do this, if it feels too much to do by yourself). Ask yourself:
This can be a long, and sometimes painful, process, so take your time with it, and remember to look after yourself and offer yourself kindness, forgiveness and understanding throughout – and always ask for support if it feels too much.
It may not always feel like it, but whoever you are, whatever you look like, whatever the situation, you are good enough. No exceptions!
If you have any comments on this post, I’d love to hear from you, either by posting a comment below or by contacting me privately via the contact page.
© Becky Stokes 2021