How does our critical inner dialogue affect our creativity, self confidence and other parts of our life?
Can we learn to change our self-limiting inner critical voice and use more supportive thoughts to motivate ourselves and improve low self esteem?
Elizabeth Gilbert on Blind spots and self-compassion.
I’ve been thinking for the last few weeks about the blind spots in our lives, in ourselves.
How humbling it can be to realize — even after all these years of experience with life — that there is still so much we cannot see, still so much to learn, still so much to trip over or crash into.
It’s so hard sometimes to forgive ourselves when we stumble and mess up.
There’s always that most critical part of ourselves who thinks, “After all this time, you blew it again?! Seriously?! You still haven’t gotten it right? How could you not have seen this coming?”
But then I remember that the very definition of a blind spot is something that you simply cannot see through or see around. We all have our blind spots. These blind spots are part of our shared humanity.
And we cannot beat ourselves up for things that we were incapable of seeing or learning before we saw them or learned them.
From her post: Blind spots and self-compassion, Dec 16, 2013.
Elizabeth Gilbert is author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
See more quotes and information about her online course in my post Elizabeth Gilbert on fear and creativity and mental health.
She is among the presenters at the Self-Acceptance Summit. She speaks with Sounds True founder Tami Simon about “the ever-deepening journey of self-acceptance, and how we are sometimes asked to go against the norms to be truly who we are.”
See videos with her and other presenters in article: The Self-Acceptance Summit.
“The inner critic is an expression of the safety instinct in us…”
Tara Mohr talks about our inner critic vs being realistic:
In an article on this topic, Mohr explains:
“It turns out you don’t have to find a magic source of confidence, dig deep into childhood wounds to find the roots of your insecurities or figure out how to permanently banish that critical voice in your head.
“Instead, you simply need to learn how to live with the inner voice of self-doubt but not be held back by it, to hear the voice and not take direction from it.
“The inner critic is an expression of the safety instinct in us — the part of us that wants to stay safe from potential emotional risk — from hurt, failure, criticism, disappointment or rejection by the tribe.
“The safety instinct is cunning.
“If it simply said to you, ‘No, don’t compose the song, don’t run for office, don’t make the career change, don’t share your ideas – it’s too risky,’ you wouldn’t listen.
“You’d probably reply with something along the lines of, ‘No, I feel okay about the risks. Here I go.’
“So the safety instinct uses a more effective argument: ‘Your paintings are terrible.’ ‘Your book won’t offer anything new – there are so many books on the subject.’ ‘Your attempt at a career change will cause you to end up broke.’
“The inner critic speaks up with more viciousness and volume when we are exposing ourselves to a real or perceived vulnerability – something that triggers a fear of embarrassment, rejection, failure or pain.”
From her article The Good News About Your Inner Critic, Oprah.com.
[Saber-tooth tiger image is from my article Living and Creating: Fear Is Not A Disease.]
video: Brilliant women holding back
Coach and personal growth teacher Tara Mohr says “Most of my clients were brilliant women – smart, gifted creative women working in all different fields – and as I started working with them one-on-one around their career and life goals, right away I started to see this very striking pattern…
“I think of it as “the voice of not-me” – the internal chatter that tells a woman she’s not ready to lead, she’s not enough of an expert, she’s not good enough at this or that. It’s the voice of self-doubt, of the inner critic.”
Images in my video include:
from article Four Ways Women Can Strategically Tout Their Accomplishments by Tara Mohr, FastCompany.
European Women in Technology conference 2016.jpg
Maya Angelou: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
> From my article Overcome Impostor Syndrome Feelings.
Coach and personal growth teacher Tara Mohr is author of the book: Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead.
She is a presenter at The Self-Acceptance Summit on the topic “Quieting Your Inner Critic and Navigating Feedback.”
Follow link to article with video clips from some of the speakers, and more information.
Impostor feelings and the inner critic.
Tara Mohr writes about how competent, accomplished women can experience insecurities related to impostor feelings:
This Facebook post links to the article The Good News About Your Inner Critic By Tara Mohr.
How to Free Yourself of Negative Thoughts
From an edition of SuperSoul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network
“Author Michael Singer says spiritual growth can begin by silencing the negative thoughts in our minds. Watch as Michael shares a spiritual solution to use to regain inner peace when thoughts become distracting.”
Oprah reads from the #1 New York Times bestseller by Michael Singer: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.
Oprah: You say real spiritual growth happens when there’s only one of you inside; there’s not a part that’s scared and another part that’s protecting the part that’s scared.
All parts are unified because there’s no part of you that you’re not willing to see. That’s what being a whole person is, isn’t it?
Michael: Yes, that’s integrity, true integrity – you’re integrated as a being.
Oprah: Wow. Isn’t that why we’re all here – to figure out how to do that?
Sign up to view “The Mind Can Be a Dangerous Place or a Great Gift” – a free video series with New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Singer.
Motivational instructor Mel Robbins says, “I’m a creator, too. And it presents a really unique set of challenges, doesn’t it? …
“We’re such deep feelers that it exposes you I think even more acutely to anxiety, to self-doubt, to the imposter syndrome…”
Learn about her online course: How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence
Example of self-doubt and self-critical thinking – maybe you can relate:
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.
“They’re going to fire me — all these things. I’m fat; I’m ugly…”
Kate Winslet – even after her Academy Award nominations for Titanic (1997) and Sense and Sensibility (1995).
Jonathan Safran Foer commented about his novel Everything Is Illuminated, which made The New York Times best-seller list:
“I can be very hard on myself. I convince myself that I’m fooling people.
“Or, I convince myself that people like the book for the wrong reasons.”
He also said, “The writing itself is no big deal. The editing, and even more than that, the self-doubt, is excruciatingly impossible.
“Profound, bottomless self-doubt: it has no value, what’s the point? In a way, that takes up as much time as anything else.”
“Rosalyn Lang has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University.
“Yet when she looks back, she takes little credit for her successes.”
“I felt inadequate the entire time I was in graduate school. If I got a nice compliment, I just felt, ‘What? They’re trying to pull my leg! I can get kicked out at any minute.”
See more quotes and video with impostor syndrome author and career coach Valerie Young in article:
Self-compassion and the inner critic
In an article on this topic, therapist Cindy Ricardo notes:
As Dr. Kristin Neff writes in her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself :
We confuse our thoughts and representations of ourselves for our actual selves, meaning that when our self-image is under siege, we react as if our very existence is threatened.
When this happens, our threat defense system uses the same strategies to stay safe as follows:
Fight: We turn on ourselves, we criticize, blame, shame, and belittle ourselves.
Flight: Feeling anxious and agitated, we seek to numb the pain by using distractions such as food, alcohol, gambling, or other distractions.
Freeze: We get caught up in a holding pattern of thoughts. We ruminate on what we see as our inadequacies and weaknesses.
Submit: We resign ourselves and accept our harsh and critical self-judgment, which leaves us feeling unworthy and ashamed.”
“With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.” — Dr. Kristin Neff
Dr. Neff describes self-compassion as “quieting of one’s inner critic and replacing it with a voice of support, understanding, and care for one’s self.”
>> Text and photo from article Silencing the Inner Critic: The Power of Self-Compassion, by Cindy Ricardo, LMHC, CIRT, GoodTherapy.org, June 8, 2015.
Sounds True video –
“Do you have a critical voice? What do you find it saying to you?”
“This video is a candid, vulnerable and compelling portrait from our own folks here at Sounds True, on their journey with Self-Compassion.
“Join Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Christopher K. Germer, PhD in exploring the science of self compassion and why most of neglect this essential skill.”
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Self-compassion researcher, teacher and author Kristin Neff, PhD notes the ‘typical way’ of motivating ourselves is harsh self-criticism.
But research shows this leads to a fear of failure, performance anxiety and other problems that can hold us back.
Dr. Neff says, “We know through the research that when we’re very hard on ourselves when we make a mistake, or fail in some way, we start becoming afraid of failure, and we start developing performance anxiety.
“We don’t do as well so we fail more often, we start losing confidence in ourselves and therefore we’re more likely just to give up.”
Read about an online course and series of free videos by psychologists Kristin Neff and Chris Germer in related article : The Power of Self-Compassion.
Stop Beating Yourself Up
Writer Laura Tong addresses the challenges of dealing with our inner critic:
“Consciously and patiently, I set out to understand why this self-critical person had become such a huge part of me.
“I learned how to recognize and counter the habitual negative messages and destructive behavior patterns.
“I learned how to beat my inner critic, for the most part.
“And now it’s your turn. Because it’s time you felt free from the pain of constant self-criticism as well.
“It’s time you finally stopped beating yourself up over everything you say or do. And it’s time you were able to breathe, smile, and be pleased with yourself, just as you are.
“How? With one simple, small action at a time.”
See list of suggestions in her article Stop Beating Yourself Up: 40 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic, Tiny Buddha.
Abusing ourselves verbally
Psychotherapist and author Amy Morin makes a number of suggestions so we “don’t have to be a victim of our own verbal abuse.”
She writes in an article for Forbes:
1. Develop an awareness of your thoughts. We get so used to hearing our own narrations that it’s easy to become oblivious to the messages that we’re sending ourselves.
Pay attention to what you’re thinking about and recognize that just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true. Our thoughts are often exaggerated, biased, and disproportionate.
2. Stop ruminating. When you make a mistake or you’ve had a bad day, you may be tempted to re-play the events over and over in your head.
But, repeatedly reminding yourself of that embarrassing thing you did, or that questionable thing you said, will only make you feel worse and it won’t solve the problem…”
See more ideas in her article Taming Your Inner Critic: 7 Steps To Silencing The Negativity.
book: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin.
[Image is from book Emotional Intelligence in Everyday Life by Joseph Ciarrochi – also used in my post Directing our feelings and thinking to be more creative.]
Wired to be self-critical
“Our brains are wired to be critical of ourselves and compassionate towards others because they are instinctively driven to seek acceptance from a group.
“The trick is learning to turn our natural compassion inward as well as outward.”
Kelly McGonigal is a Stanford researcher and “pioneer of the science of compassion.”
She is one of the many presenters at The Self-Acceptance Summit – and discusses The Neuroscience of Self-Compassion – “how your brain expresses self-criticism and self-compassion” and also provides “neuroscience-based practices” to help deal with self-criticism.
Another course of hers:
The Neuroscience of Self-Compassion by Kelly McGonigal –
“Discover how the brain works, including why the critical inner voice exists, and how to replace it with self-compassion.”
Also see page for her audiobook: The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation –
“Psychologist and award-winning Stanford lecturer Kelly McGonigal presents six sessions of breakthrough ideas, guided practices, and real-world exercises for making self-awareness and kindness the basis for meaningful trasformation.”
What does our inner critic actually say? Is it helpful?
One suggestion by a number of coaches, psychologists and writers is to pay attention to what our inner critic is saying, and imagine telling that to a child; it probably would be discouraging for them, and it is for us.
In the comedy Liar Liar (1997), Jim Carrey plays a “fast-track lawyer who can’t lie for 24 hours due to his son’s birthday wish…”
His “curse” makes him verbalize what are usually private, unexpressed opinions about others; Don’t some of them sound familiar, like comments we might make inwardly about ourself, our abilities and behavior?
In this scene, other people end up reacting with amusement and laughter at his “roasts.”
Maybe that is a strategy we can use about our own inner voice: treat what it says as silly and amusing.
You can buy Liar Liar at Amazon.
How to deal with your inner critic.
“Creating can be an emotional process. But there’s good emotional—even when you’re sad or the work epitomizes sorrow—and there’s bad emotional. That’s when your inner critic attacks you, calls you mean names, and causes you not to feel like creating anymore.”