My community, the people that connect with my workouts and fitness platform, are high achievers that are brave and dare to dream big. That’s because high-intensity interval training, aka “HIIT”-style, workouts like mine are not for the faint of heart. They push you to your limits physically, mentally, and some might even say spiritually! All of that requires some serious mental fortitude and determination.
I’ve found that oftentimes that voice that’s the inner cheerleader during our workouts can often QUICKLY become an inner critic when unchecked. The same voice that says, “Hold on, just 10 more seconds! You got this!” during Burn might also say things like, “God, why are you so stupid?” when you make a simple mistake.
Our inner critics don’t always serve us. It’s tricky because self-criticism does aid our development, but when the voice is unhelpful (and that’s the key here) and downright mean, we must check ourselves. An unhinged inner critic will undermine your self esteem and lead to anxious and negative thought patterns. I know because this is something I recognize in myself and that I’m working on too.
You might think there’s no fixing the inner critic, that she’s hardwired in your brain. But I’m here to tell you that it’s worth a little self-reflection and work. There’s only one person you spend your entire life with and that’s you. Do you want to spend time with someone that’s telling you you’re not good enough all the time? Of course not.
Here are my best tips for dialing back that inner critic so you can truly be on your own side.
You might find that body image triggers the inner critic, but when it comes to friendship you experience self-loving thoughts. Notice how I used the word “experience?” That is because you are not your thoughts. Let me repeat that… You are not your thoughts! You know this because we often talk back to our thoughts. You can have a weird thought and be like, “That was a weird thought!”
If you’re not your thoughts then what are you? You are often the observer of your thoughts and you can choose whether or not you interact with them or believe them. So when a thought comes along like, “I’m not good enough” choose to say, “Hmmm… that’s interesting.” or “You know what, not today, Satan!”
I find it helps to give that inner critic its own name. Get creative as you want here. You could even call it Satan! Naming the inner critic enables you to recognize that that voice is not you and you can talk back to it or ignore it at any time. It helps you separate your true self-loving self from the critical voice and unlearn those nasty thought patterns.
When your inner critic says, “You’re not good enough” ask yourself, “Is that true?” or “Is this helping me?” The answer is no.
Think of or write a few things down that you are grateful for or proud of and celebrate them. It’s thought that if you practice this consistently it helps shift your mindset gradually to a more positive one. Practicing gratitude is literally training your brain to look for the positive. Our brains are hardwired to find problems, so practicing gratitude, especially for those with a mean inner critic, is a radical and necessary act. The best part is, it’s free and takes almost no time.
It’s funny how I write this blog and I give the impression that I’m an authority on the subject of overcoming the inner critic when sometimes I feel like anything but. The fact is overcoming the inner critic is a journey and realizing that it doesn’t serve me is something that, I too, am learning or rather, unlearning. I think that it’s something valuable to take a look at in our own lives because our relationship with ourselves is the longest one we’ll ever know. Be on your own side and see what you can achieve.