Do you have those nagging inner voices that say you aren’t good enough? No matter how confident we think we are, whenever we attempt something new in our lives, all those doubtful voices fill our heads. Usually, we achieve some relief after we’re done with the task, be it a job interview, a report at school, or even when asking someone out. But it won’t take too long before new worries swarm our minds. It’s a never-ending cycle.
We expect to feel worried when going through something new, but how concerned should we get? Sometimes, you may find that you’re overly-worried about things because of those critical inner voices telling you that you can’t do it. Those voices are your internal enemy and can even be a threat to your chance of realizing your true potential and living a fulfilled life.
If you listen to your critical inner voices, you will begin to distrust your own abilities, become your own worst critic, and unknowingly set limitations on yourself. This can affect other aspects of your life, including your mood, state of mind, prejudices, attitudes, how you relate to other people, and your personal relationships.
Inner voices do not just appear out of thin air. In fact, you allowed them to take that space in your head because of your negative thinking pattern. This kind of thinking can be how you think of yourself and how you think of others. The voices have not always been there; this is a learned maladaptive behavior. You’ve unknowingly nurtured these negative thoughts as well as attitudes that hold you back from reaching your goals and your better self.
You may notice that these critical inner voices are present in many areas of your life. When it comes to relationships, are you afraid of making commitments or being genuinely open to your partner? In your career, are you scared of getting too far ahead because the voices are telling you that you don’t have the skills, talents, and abilities to do so?
How often do you hear those voices telling you that you can’t do it, or this is how far you’re going to get in life? Maybe you hate listening to those voices, and you try to whisk them away. Or have you given in to those voices and find that they’re comforting because they keep you safe in your comfort zone? You have to carefully assess how much power you’ve given to your negative thoughts because settling and giving up on your dreams is not a way to fully live your life.
When you’re overly critical of yourself, you’re full of doubt, and you’re not confident of what you can do; these are signs of low self-esteem. You may think that you’re stuck, and there’s no way to get out of the internal criticism that’s seemingly controlling your mind. However, there is hope. There’s a way to achieve a silent mind that is more receptive to positive thoughts.
The first step you need to take is to listen carefully to what the critical inner voices are telling you. When and where do they usually become louder? Do they fill your head whenever you’re at work? Do they tell you that you’re an inadequate parent? Please take note of the specific areas of your life where these voices are the loudest when it comes to criticizing you.
Whenever you hear them, verbalize what the voices are telling you. But instead of saying, “I will never be good enough,” use the second person, “You.” This will allow you actually to hear that voice and what it’s telling you and how mean and ridiculous it is. This way, you can start to recognize where it comes from, which is the second step.
When the negative voices have been verbalized, it’s going to sound very familiar. It’s as if it’s been said to you before by someone in your past. The voice, the tone, they’re coming from a part of your life that you thought you’d forgotten. Look back into your childhood, and you’ll soon realize that there were things in the past that have been deeply embedded into your mind and have grown to have voices of their own.
Was your father or mother critical of you? Was there a teacher who humiliated you at school and told you that you were not good at anything? Was your older sibling a bully who always competed with you and showed you that you could never be better than them? Figure out whose voice it is that closely resembles the critical inner voices. It is in this way that you can respond to them appropriately. Let’s take a look at the third step, where you can learn how to get rid of these voices.
For you to eliminate these critical inner voices, you have to learn to fight them. So when you verbalize the thoughts like “Everything you say is so stupid, so just shut up!” You have to learn how to answer and challenge the voices. You can say something like, “What I have to say has value, and I am not stupid. With the skills and talents I have, there’s a lot I can contribute.”
If you’re not comfortable voicing out this dialogue between your inner voices and yourself, you can write them down. Get a notebook and pen, or you can use your computer or phone for this. Write what the voices are saying and then write your reply. Give the best arguments as to why the views are wrong about what they’re saying to you. If you say you’re more than competent, support it. Say, “I have all the skills I need to perform this task well. I don’t have to worry.”
Once you can practice this exercise, it will be much easier to silence the critical inner voices. Show them that you ultimately have the power over your life, no matter what happened in your past. In time, you will no longer have those voices nagging at you, but you’ll have voices cheering you on in every challenge you take in life.
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