Have you ever stopped and listened to your internal conversation?
Not criticizing yourself and becoming your best ally doesn’t happen automatically without you doing anything.
- If you’ve never heard yourself, I advise you to.
- If you usually feel bad and don’t know why, listen to your internal conversation.
- If you doubt everything, listen to yourself.
Because it’s in this inner dialogue where the greatest battles or best advice come from.
With this article, I’d like you to notice that your internal dialogue is inherited and that, if you don’t like what you hear, you can change it.
The External Critic
The relationship you have with your parents, siblings or caregivers as a child will mark the relationship you have with your future self.
So think for a bit and answer the following questions:
- How was your relationship with your parents?
- And with your siblings?
- What kind of comments did they make?
- Did they value or criticize you?
- Did they support you in your decisions or didn’t they trust you?
- Did they usually point out your failures or accepted them as part of your development?
Try to remember all of this because it is here that you’ll find the basis of your Current Internal Dialogue.
If these people,
- treated you and spoke to you with affection
- supported you with encouraging words when things got hard
- were able to differentiate you as a person from what you did
- comforted you when you were sad
- took care of you when you needed them and
- were somehow “there” for you…
that’s what you learned to do with your future self.
You will take that relationship as a reference and make it yours, but internally.
- they didn’t treat you well and spoke to you with contempt
- devalued you when things got hard
- confused you as a person with your actions
- told you that crying was for the weak
- weren’t there when you needed them and
- instead of supporting you, criticized you…
that’s what you learned to do with your future self.
Similarly, they could’ve also,
- sometimes taken care of you and others criticized you,
- sometimes said encouraging words and others spoke to you with contempt,
- were sometimes present and sometimes absent…
and again, in that case, you learned to do that with yourself.
Another possible option is that you had a “good” childhood with “good reference models” that treated you “well” and,
- met a teacher or student who made your life miserable at your school or institute
- were bullied
- or had a friendship or romantic relationship in which you were criticized so much that you ended up believing their criticisms and contempt and, in the end, took them as your own.
So tell me:
Which group are you in?
The Internal Critic
Once you’ve identified your External Critic, if you haven’t followed a personal development process or did it “that way”, then you’ll know that you’re following a relationship model.
So my question now is: are you happy with this model?
If you had a good external relationship with your reference models, you probably incorporated a constructive, loving and supportive internal relationship model.
Although my experience tells me that, in general, even with our parents and caregivers’ best intentions, it isn’t always possible to grant that positive reference model.
And, by the way, I’m not blaming anyone.
Parents do the best they can and know.
And if they don’t do it differently, it’s because nobody taught them to.
They’re probably giving you what they incorporated from their own parents or reference models.
So, don’t blame them.
Instead, become aware and take responsibility for YOURSELF.
But don’t blame yourself!
Because this happens automatically and unconsciously.
As a girl or boy you can’t choose the internal dialogue model you want for yourself.
But as an ADULT, YOU CAN. You have that ability.
How to stop criticizing yourself and become your best ally
- The first step is realizing which model you incorporated.
- The second step is taking responsibility to change the model that DOESN’T support you.
- The third step is Observing.
- The fourth step is creating an alternative model.
We already talked about the first two steps, so not let’s move on to Observation.
The internal dialogue is something that happens in your mind and as the mind has a lot of thoughts per day about a thousand different things, it isn’t easy to notice how you criticize yourself or what you tell yourself in difficult and non-difficult times.
To find out those critics, I recommend being attentive throughout the day.
Write down all the thoughts that imply a criticism towards:
- your way of doing things,
- the way you relate to others
Also you can write those thoughts that remind you of your reference person (for example your mother, your brother, your ex…).
Write it ALL down.
Because that way it’ll be much easier to locate what you need to change.
Once you’ve made your list, it’s time for a change.
- How can you change destructive criticism for constructive criticism?
- What support messages can you tell yourself?
- How can you comfort yourself when you need it?
If you can’t think of anything right now, think of two things:
- How would you comfort or support a small child?
- How would you like to be comforted or supported?
Consciously choose another reference model and start practicing, so that, over time, the old model disappears and you can improve your relationship with yourself.
Why being your best ally will help you enjoy a fuller and more satisfying life?
Picture this… you made a mistake, you feel bad and your inner voice tells you:
“It’s ok, darling, calm down, you’re human, and everyone makes mistakes. You did your best. Besides, you’ve learned what works and what doesn’t in this situation, so next time something similar happens, you can act differently”
How do you feel after hearing this?
What feeling would this inner support provoke?
Based on my experience, I can say that I feel veeeery relaxed when I talk to myself that way.
My burden disappears, I can pick out the learning experience and I feel respected by myself.
However, this doesn’t mean that never again in life, will I criticize myself.
I still get some automatic criticisms from myself,
but I don’t believe them anymore.
This is a long-term job, but when I identify them, I can manage them.
If you change your criticism for loving, careful, and respectful messages… you will really live a fuller and more satisfying life.
I hope I’ve convinced you and motivated you to act and learn to stop criticizing yourself and become your best ally.
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