Posts Tagged ‘Probably’

Talking to Your Critical Voices

December 12th, 2022

Negative or critical voices … with people feeling good about … or feeling good at all. … those critical voices are so loud that’s all you can hear — and you miss out on your

Negative or critical voices interfere with people feeling good about themselves,Guest Posting or feeling good at all. Sometimes those critical voices are so loud that’s all you can hear — and you miss out on your beauty, your growth, on the wonderful things you’re doing. This is especially true for anyone who heard constant critical or negative things about themselves growing up, or who’s experienced abuse. Then there are the criticisms that women, especially, absorb from advertisements, televison, and magazines. We may have heard horrible things said about ourselves so often that we came to believe them — or we may still have those messages running through our heads like a tape player — so softly we hardly hear them, but constant and always there, or so loudly they blot everything else out.

But there is a way to lessen the intensity of those critical voices, and let them give you a break. Read on for some suggestions. (Note: You don’t have to do all or even most of these things. Just find what works for you.)

* Notice the Critical Messages

The first thing to do to help quiet self-criticism is to notice that it’s happening. Many people put themselves down or criticize themselves without even noticing they’re doing it. They might think that they’re being reasonable or objective or helpful. But criticizing yourself doesn’t help you at all — it just feeds more negative and self-harming thinking.

So how do you pay attention?

If you really can’t hear it in yourself, ask a friend or lover to point out when you’re criticizing yourself. Probably you do it a lot less out loud than you do in your own head, though, so this is just a starting point.

Try sitting with yourself quietly for a long time, and listen to what’s going on in the background. If it helps to write it out, do that. What do you hear?

* Listen to the critical voices.

Next, try listening to those critical voices. Find out exactly what they’re saying. The more we ignore something, the stronger it gets. It helps to acknowledge those critical voices, and to let them know you’ve heard them. And it can help to hear exactly what they’re saying. Try repeating their phrases aloud, or write them down.

* Look at the Patterns

When you start to hear the negative messages, try to trace back when they started. Did you make a “mistake” and verbally slap yourself, or laugh at yourself before anyone else could? Did someone else say something that made you think they were putting you down? Did someone laugh at you when you were feeling vulnerable?

Try to notice every time a new onslaught of self-critical messages happens. Write it down. Become familiar with your triggers — what sets off that onslaught of criticism. Then try to recognize that trigger as soon as it happens, or as soon after it has happened as you can. When you see that pattern happening where critical messages are set off, try to step back a little and give yourself some compassion and distance. Remind yourself that you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, or hurt, or scared, and that you don’t need to be so harsh on yourself.

* Trace the Messages Back to Their Root

Look at the messages you hear in your head. Really analyze them. You had to get them from somewhere. Are any of them familiar? Did anyone tell you any of those messages when you were a child? Do they sound like your mother — or your father? Try to figure out when you first started “thinking” those phrases. Sometimes knowing where those messages come from can decrease their intensity. (Ah ha — that’s something my mother used to say to me. But she’s not right! I don’t need to carry her voice in my head any more.)

* Have a Conversation With the Critical Voices

Have a conversation with your critical voices. It might help to do this on paper or at your computer so you can see it more clearly. Ask those critical voices what they need, and why they’re telling you such negative things about yourself. Ask them what they’re afraid of, and why they need to do what they do so strongly. Just let the answers come up and be there. Now is the time to listen.

Try not to be judgmental of those critical voices. It may help to realize that critical voices often come out of desperation and duress — such as a little child blaming herself instead of the adults who were hurting her, because it was safer to think that way. Often, behind all those negative messages and criticism is a lot of vulnerability, insecurity, and fear. If you can get in touch with that vulnerability, and understand where it’s coming from, you may find that the need to criticize yourself greatly diminishes.