Step 3: How to react to the critical voice when it starts speaking
Imagine your self-critical voice as a bully. We know that there are a few helpful ways to respond to bullying. The first is to have a practised response ready to use when the bullying occurs, so that you don’t react immediately and show that the bully is getting to you. The second is to observe but not react to the bullying.
When the self-critical voice is loud and strong, it is difficult to remember or hear the kind voice.
Try writing out the kind thoughts that helped you feel better on a card where you can carry it around in your purse or wallet, or put up on your wall. You can also try saying the words on the cards out aloud to help the kind voice get stronger. Some examples include:
- "The self-critical voice is always going to look for the worst – that doesn’t make it true or a true reflection of my efforts and abilities."
- "When I don’t achieve the standards I set myself, it doesn’t make me any less worthwhile as a person."
- "I don’t judge others based on what they achieve so I will refuse to judge myself based on what I achieve."
- "Having and pursuing good goals is fine. Judging myself as a bad person based on reaching these goals will only get in the way of me reaching them."
- "Making mistakes is part of the learning process and the journey to becoming better."
As you practise these techniques, you can expect the kind voice to get stronger and the self-critical voice weaker.
Still, it may not mean that the self-critical voice will disappear. Rather, you learn to stop paying so much attention to it.
Some days it will be easier to listen to the kind voice than on others. On others, the self-critical voice gets louder and tries to get your attention. Usually some event has happened to make you feel bad about yourself and start listening to the self-critical voice. Don’t beat yourself up when the self-critical voice gets louder. Instead, try to understand why this has happened and use the tools you have learnt to overcome it.