Everyone has one.
Most people want to shut up, destroy, annihilate, or otherwise quiet that voice in their head that says things like, that was a stupid thing to say, or you look so fat today, you’re dumb, you’ll never get anywhere in life. I’m sure you can add your own.
Your inner critic is the voice that monitors your every act, word, and thought.
When it’s out of control, your inner critic can rule your life and ruin your self esteem. It can fill your mind with fears and worse case scenarios.
But what would happen if instead of trying to shut your inner critic up, you would listen to it? I don’t mean listen as in taking its words as true. I mean listen as hear what it’s saying, think about it, and then make your own decision whether or not to believe it.
What would it be like if you viewed your inner critic not in the sense of negative critical messages that should be dismissed, but as a cautious voice that can be helpful if its understood?
How it works is this; your inner critic makes a remark like, “You’re going to mess up this presentation.” So instead of just dwelling on the negative thinking and giving it power, you spend a couple of minutes critically thinking about it. How would I mess up the performance? Is that something that could realistically happen? If so, what can I do to fix it?
You can view your inner critic as a negative force weighing down on you, or it can be a tool that you use to discern your strengths and weaknesses.
There are two crucial points here.
The first is that your inner critic is neither good nor bad. It points out your insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s kind of like a coach. Sometimes it can have valid points, and sometimes it makes mountains out of mole hills.
The second is that the more thought and attention you give to a particular idea or internal message, the more power you imbue it with. Dwelling or ruminating on fears is draining …
“Jessica” (pseudonym) was 18 years old when she enlisted in the Army. She was trained as a mechanic, and enjoyed what she did.
The Army provided her the family she didn’t have at home and a sense of belonging and stability. At the time, the United States was not engaged in a war. A year later, this would change.
Jessica was sent to Afghanistan. While there, she was injured when the truck she was driving hit an IED. After her body healed, and she continued in her unit. Like all service people who serve in a war, Jessica saw and experienced many horrific things.
After her time in Afghanistan ended and she was back in the US, Jessica’s body wasn’t the same. She had an undiagnosed TBI (traumatic brain injury) from the IED. She had intense mood swings. She couldn’t concentrate. She had nightmares nearly every night.
These were all problems that Jessica felt like she could talk about with other veterans, friends and family. Things like TBI and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) have become well known and understood.
What Jessica didn’t feel like she could talk about was the rape by her commanding officer, the very person in the chain of command she was expected to report sexual assault to, and who she looked up to like a father.
I pulled into a gas station and asked if they would take a check. Nope.
How about a credit card number phoned in from my husband? Nope.
My random gift cards were worthless here. I was worried.
I was desperate. I went back to my car where my young daughter sat and asked her if I could borrow the money in her coin purse. She had $2.38.
Digging through the crevices and corners of my car yielded another $1.03. I went inside and placed the pile of change in front of the cashier. The total amount was $19.41, a little less than 5 gallons of gas.
In my mind I was going through everything that had gone wrong. Why did I forget my credit card? Do hotels take checks from out of state? Do restaurants? What would I feed my daughter? Where would we sleep? How could I be so stupid???
I was going full force into negative thinking. I finally realized that my thoughts weren’t doing me any good at all. In fact, they were harmful. With my mind full of what if’s, there was no room or energy for realistic problem solving.
Once I slowed down I realized that my daughter wouldn’t starve, I could find a way to get some cash back from a store, and that I was resourceful enough to deal with this situation.
I did some mental arithmetic and discovered that I could keep my miles per gallon quite high if I used cruise control and didn’t rush. At 42 miles per gallon or more, I could possibly make it. And if I didn’t, I would be close enough to have someone come and get us.
Negative thoughts often sneak up when people are stressed, anxious, or depressed. And once they take root, they can impede more helpful, critical, and logical thinking.
Here are 5 simple and easy ways to manage negative thoughts when they appear.
If you’re a parent with a mental illness, or if someone in your family is mentally ill, you may struggle with how to talk about it with your children. You may feel embarrassed or even ashamed about your disease.
Even thought it can be difficult, it’s important to create a safe space for kids to hear and ask questions about the illness that affects you or your partner.
Here are five tips to help you get started.
No one imagines that their sweet fuzzy-haired infant will morph into a toddler who bites and terrorizes other children, or who refuses to eat anything other than chicken nuggets for days at a time.
Parents often imagine that if they just do everything right and provide the best toys and intellectual stimulation for their children, their kids will meet all of their developmental milestones and behave in socially appropriate ways. If only this were true.
And while most parents expect to deal with tantrums and coloring on the walls, there are some things that people tend not to talk about when parenting young children.
One night, after having some drinks with friends, Erica accepted a ride home with Mark.
Mark walked Erica to the door, then pushed his way in and raped her.
After the sheer terror of the assault had passed, Erica sat sobbing. Despite having done nothing wrong, she felt an intense sense of shame.
She questioned herself: why did I stay out so late? Why did I take a ride from a guy I barely knew? If I hadn’t had that last drink, I could have fought back more. The more she thought about it, the more she blamed herself, and the deeper her sense of shame grew. She didn’t tell anyone, because in the end she had convinced herself that the rape was her fault.