Quieting Your Inner Critic

    One may think that all eyes are on us when we’re out and about. We may hear an acquaintance say “Look at what she’s wearing today!” Comments like this may be normal but, ultimately, we are our own worst critic and it is vital that we not take it to heart.
Recently I read an article in the New York Times titled Learn to Quiet Your Inner Critic by Christina Caron and in today’s day and age it couldn’t be more relevant.
    Inner criticism stems from our constant want, not need, to be perfect. Perfectionism isn’t described as wanting to be the greatest at something we pursue, rather it’s the sense that we’re not enough. We are constantly dealing with that voice in our head telling us we’re not doing this or that right. While it may be hard to change our habits, it is time to start validating ourselves and not giving credence to pressure from society or those around us.
    It’s important to consider the societal causes of our quest to be perfect and how those pressures lead us to criticize ourselves whenever we take one wrong step. Sometimes perfectionism comes from within ourselves. At other times perfectionism is caused by expectations from those around us like coworkers, parents, friends, children, and spouses. We’re also pressured in the workplace and on social media.  Trying to stay up on the trends or even wanting to be the most interesting person at a dinner party can be very judgment-inducing. Caron highlights three major ways to block out that critical voice enabling us to become more productive and confident.
    First, we must create some distance from our negative thoughts. This is a vital first step. When you’re up at twelve-midnight wondering if you wore the right outfit that day, a lot of anxiety can come up. Then, once you wake up in the morning it may not seem like a problem anymore. Remember that the clothing you wear, the slides template you use for a presentation, your choice of friends, or the dinner you cook won’t matter in the long run. Accepting that is a struggle, but after some distance practicing, you’ll feel a lot better.
    Secondly, you must take into account what elements in your life are good enough. We’re always striving to better ourselves which, don’t get me wrong, is amazing. But like anything else it can become too much. There’s a picture in our mind of who we want to be and who we are now. Creating a model in which we reach the center of that spectrum is what is most important here. Recognize that the dinner we made isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough. Try adding “good enough” to your vocabulary and practice erasing “perfect.” Validate not just the goals we achieve, but also the efforts that we make.
    Lastly, be compassionate to yourself. There is only so much one can do. Time is valuable and there just isn’t enough of it to be perfect. It’s not about messing up and trying again. We must promise ourselves that just because we don’t have the beach body or the greatest network of friends doesn’t mean that we can’t be fulfilled. Validating the little steps we take will only enable us to take the greater ones.
    Take some of this advice into consideration. This skill of quieting your critical mind is what can and will allow you to be successful and emotionally strong.