The Inner-Critic

In order achieve the goals you set, you have to obtain the right mindset before taking action. I’m specifically referring to your “inner voice”. This voice goes on perpetually without one being aware.

When I left school in 2006, my routines broke, my waistline gained centimetres, and worst of all, my head became a bottomless pit of self-doubt and toxic thoughts. In this article, I’m going to share with you the process I went through so that I could suppress my INNER-CRITIC…

For many years my inner-critic consumed too much of my mental well-being. That same voice still lingers; however, it’s not as prominent. Looking back at my self-esteem problems, I can reflect on all the negativity it brought me. The inner critic would bring up doubt, focus on the negative, nit-pick and focus on hurtful images in an attempt to discourage me.

I first went to Reddam House in 2001; I was 13 years young and beyond frightened of being accepted and possibly bullied. After my first few days though, I felt accepted, and over months that inner critic was not as influential, the voice was quieter and sometimes not there at all. I remember initially that cynical critic would tell me: “they’re going to think you are funny-looking /you are going to get teased/you are going to get bullied/ no one will like you” etc.

But, what I soon realised was that there was no truth to the negative self-image that my inner critic had taught me to believe. For the first time in my life, I started to develop a healthy-image… In a journal article by Hoban. V (2008), she talks about children becoming their own “inner saboteur” Hoban (2008). Mostly the article explains that some children feel unworthy of things like love, friendship, achievement and more. I can relate to the theory, but I also believe that it can be conquered.

In retrospect, I can reflect on the common theme of believing I was weak and incapable. Negative thinking impacted my school academics, which in turn fed my inner-critic more. He (my inner-critic) eventually started saying “what’s the point anymore?”. By my mid-teens, I had grown confidence in sports, which helped boost my self-esteem. My achievement, recognition and confidence in sports became the stronger inner voice, which gave me the strength and courage to negotiate other challenges that life presented. Previously, my inner critic would say: “you’re going to fail this class”, and my more powerful self-confident critic would argue: “look what you can do when you put your mind to things! You got this!!” This was the first mantra I can remember. I used to repeat it to myself over and over again: “You got this!” It was encouraging to see how my train of thought, and how my “intrapersonal communication” DeVito (2015) developed and grew.

Two Area of Personal Vulnerability I’m Working on:

When I first started studying Psychology, our lecturer screened a Ted Talk by Brene Brown -The Power of Vulnerability. The talk addressed having the courage to be vulnerable. In the past, I had previously considered vulnerability to be a weakness, but after watching that Talk, I learnt that it was instead a strength. Vulnerability, not only with yourself but with others too takes courage. Learning to let your guard down, being open with yourself and others, and “be content” requires bravery. The two areas of vulnerability I need to work on is 1. Being perfect actually isn’t perfect, and 2. Letting go of what others think of me.

1. Being perfect isn’t perfect:

Reflecting on my childhood, I idealised movie stars, great businessman, athletes those that I perceived to have had achieved success. I felt like I didn’t accomplish anything, and therefore considered myself a failure. From having a facial deformity, learning disability, health problems, it made me so envious of people who I perceived to be “normal”. As I grew older, I started to realise that everyone is fighting their own battle. I learnt that other’s might not have gone through the same experiences that I encountered, but that did not mean my problems were worse than theirs. Becoming aware of this “normalised” (Corey, 2016) my circumstances, but it remains a work in progress. Over the years, I have become obsessed with over-achieving in all aspects of my life. While there may be some positive aspects to over-achieving, more often than not, it creates toxic environments for your mental well-being.

Often these unrealistic goals are set by a society where we are judged by impossible standards, instead of who we actually are. I’m currently trying to reframe this cognition by accepting my imperfections and being happy for what I can do, rather than what I can’t.

2. Letting go of what others think of me:

While I’d like to say that I’m going to try to win this battle, I’m not sure if I will ever entirely. Instead, I am attempting to make it far less important to me and my self-worth.

Today I still worry about the way I look, the way I dress/appear, if people think I’m smart, if I’m a nice person, or what they’re saying behind my back. I still have a lot of insecurities, but they are dissipating. For the last few years, I’ve been spending more time with friends who want to be around me, and have a positive influence. Ten years ago, all I cared about was throwing parties and making sure everyone else was having a good time. The funny thing is, no matter how big the party, I still felt lonely. Today, I’m married to my best friend, and I’d like to think that’s where the parties are at ☺ I remind myself daily to live by my values, to be respectful, honest, and true, and when I look in the mirror in the morning I know that I am going to be okay, I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

I have learnt that self-esteem has its highs and lows. Some days you have your good days, and others your bad. I’ve also learnt that with maturity, my self-esteem will get stronger, but at the same time, I need to become self-aware. I’m not perfect, and there is only so much I can control. I am content with this, and I believe you could be too.

Hope you enjoyed the read 🤙

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