We’re all guilty of some pretty awful self-talk from time to time but for many people, their inner-critic is a constant, and debilitating, one.
Today is R U OK Day, a cause aimed at suicide prevention by empowering everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and support anyone struggling with life. With over half of young Aussies admitting that they’ve felt worthless, it’s especially important to encourage conversations around mental health.
So we spoke to human behaviour expert, global speaker and bestselling author, Dr John Demartini, about how you can help overcome those feelings of failure, shifting the negative views we often impose on ourselves that can bring us to breaking point.
Why are some people’s inner-critics louder than others?
Whenever we set goals or expectations that are not exactly realistic, not objectively balanced, not congruent with what is truly most important and meaningful to our lives and not in alignment with what is highest on our list of priorities or values, we are automatically designed, neuropsychologically, to self-depreciate or “beat ourselves up” in order to readjust our distorted intentions and expectations to be more realistically balanced, authentic and integral to who we truly are and to what is truly most important.
If we are not clear on our true intentions and we do not fully know ourselves and we let others who we compare ourselves to or subordinate to influence our expectations we can cloud the clarity of what is truly most important and create unrealistic fantasies as expectations instead of truly balanced and integral goals.
The degree of our inner-critic is to the degree of our incongruence with our truest and innermost intentions. Each of us have fluctuating inner-critics according to this congruency. If we are in any way addicted to pride and any over inflated states of mind, our own thermostat within will automatically dampen the amplitude of this pride down with some form of self-depreciation to neutralise our inflated selves back into our authentic selves. No fantasy about ourselves will ever be as empowering and magnificent as our true selves. It is essential to set truly congruent and authentic goals and expectations.
How can you differentiate from “constructive criticism” and something more harmful?
Constructive or harmful criticisms are ultimately inseparable and indistinguishable. It is not the forms of criticism that matter, it is how we interpret these criticisms. If we probe deeper and ask ourselves how are these particular forms of criticism serving us, benefiting us, and how we can use them to accomplish what is most meaningful and important to our lives we can take any forms of criticism and turn them into opportunities and fuel.
We are not here to become victims of our histories. We are here to be masters of our destinies. We have control over how we perceive these forms of criticism, what we decide to do with them and how we can act from them. It is not the outer world that has to determine our destinies. We have the ability to take any forms of criticism that happens to us and find meaning and value out of them and use them to our greatest advantage and use them as resources to achievement and fulfilment.
Sometimes criticisms are essential to ground us, to teach us how to more effectively communicate, how to sell our ideas more effectively, how to care and respect other’s values and even how to break our addictions to praise, which can keep us playing small. It is wise to take whatever criticisms we receive and turn them into understanding and fuel.
What are your top tips for silencing that inner critic?
We are wise when we set realistic but inspiring goals, that are balanced, that are aligned with what is truly valuable to us and what our lives have demonstrated to be truly congruent with what and who we are. We are wise to appreciate the greater purpose of the inner critic. It is not in the way, it is ultimately on the way.
But if you can’t seem to shake persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness or self harm, and you’re noticing changes in sleep, appetite, energy levels and behavior – speak to a medical professional. If you have noticed these symptoms or signs of struggling in a friend, family member, colleague or acquaintance, ask if they’re ok.
You can also contact:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
Sane on 1800 187 263