The way we talk to ourself is so important and our “Inner Voice” was primarily formed before the age of 7 years old! That can be quite a long time ago for many of us. Are we our biggest fans or do we have a raging inner critic? Perhaps a mix of both.
There are several ways we can change our inner voice to be more supportive and caring, to be compassionate, and compassion has been proved to be far better way to motivate than criticism, so not only does life become kinder, having a kind inner voice will help us achieve our goals.
We know that we like it when others talk to us in a positive way, and yet we are constantly talking to ourselves. What is our inner voice saying? And how is t saying it? Do we have an inner critic, and do we wish we could ignore them? We could try and ignore it but just like when we ignore a tantrummy child, often ignoring the problem can make it worse.
Therefore it’s not as easy as just decided to change, we need to do the work to unpick the subconscious, and reparent ourselves from a more compassionate place
What I find helps is soothing the inner critic. Listen to their fears, give them space, but here’s the important bit, do not buy into their story. It is not truth. Hear them out and then try something along the lines of, ‘OK I hear you think I messed that up, but actually I was trying my best, and it’s not all bad, I have learnt something, and I can have another go tomorrow’.
You can also try asking your inner critic what they need, listen to them, and see if you can get to the core of the issue. It can be helpful to do this with a therapist, who can hold space and create a safe environment.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Louise L. Hay
Write out an affirmation to tell yourself 10 times a day for 40 days. A great one which is so simple is “I love myself” or “I love myself and I trust myself” or “I love all of me, no matter what”. Find one that works for you, and a great tip is to pop it in your phone as a reminder and have it ping up a few times during the day. Other tips include writing it down and pinning it to your desk, or your bathroom mirror, or somewhere you visit several times a day.
If the affirmation feels too far away from you, then take baby steps, if saying “I love myself” doesn’t ring true and feels too hard, you can change that to, “I am learning how to love myself every day”. Affirmations are not set in stone, you can amend the affirmation as you grow in self-love
When you look in the mirror, make a point to notice the wonderful things you see. It is very easy to be super critical, but imagine you are talking to a friend or lover. Tell yourself you are beautiful, notice your eyes, your mouth, your hair, all the wonderful, beautiful things about yourself. If this is difficult try find one aspect of yourself, perhaps your foot, or you finger, or your eyes, start there, send love to that part of your body, and find 3 positive things to say. Take it gently, a little everyday goes along way.
Practise this every day, and if it is safe to do so, compliment yourself out loud, if you do this long enough, it will become an unconscious thought.
In the shower or bath, thank each part of your body for all it does for you as you wash it. Wash yourself tenderly and with love. Think about your external body and the internal, thank your lungs for every breath, thank your heart for pumping blood around your body, focus inwards and marvel at what a miracle your human body is. The more we give gratitude for what we have, the more whole our lives feel.
At the end of each day, get into the habit of pointing out all the great things you did in that day. We often don’t give ourselves credit for the little things (or even the big things) we do every day. We may rely on external approval to feel good about ourselves, and that can be quite disempowering. When we can give ourselves approval, it builds our relationship with self, we learn to love and trust ourself more.
Remember there is much to acknowledge and approve of, for example, smiling at a stranger, cooking a lovely meal for a loved one, choosing a healthy option, having screen time boundaries, can all be rewarded with an acknowledgment.
The more we give ourselves approval, the more we will focus on the good that we do, the more we can love ourselves.