I have always felt overwhelmed with things to do, but I’m still not doing enough. This feeling has been incredibly intense since I became a mother. We all have an inner voice; sometimes, we call it inner criticism.
But if we go under criticism, we can often find fear. Fear of not being good enough and not being loved. I have always had a powerful wish for improvement in my life. But does fear help anybody improve? Does our inner criticism help you be more loving and calmer? Does it help your children feel more secure and loved?
Our children have fears too. If we have solid inner criticism and react to our kids from fear, we can’t practice empathy towards them and make good parenting decisions.
When we get overwhelmed with our never-ending to-do lists, we can’t find time for self-care. In this case, our minds and bodies are drained of energy, and inner criticism can arise. It is essential to embrace our inner criticism and transform it into our inner voice, encouraging us to become calm leaders.
What Is the Inner Criticism?
The inner criticism is an internal monologue of everything we messed up. This hostile inner criticism persuades us that we are not worthy enough to be successful.
This negative self-talk is like a negative inner friend who always tells you everything is wrong with you. It stops you from being the best version of yourself.
Where can our inner criticism come from?
- things you were criticised for in your childhood
- your unreasonable expectations (if you are a perfectionist, that is very frequent)
- the way your parents treat themselves (if your mother often judged herself for not doing enough, you might do the same thing)
- stressful or traumatic events
- other people’s opinion in your life (our family members and friends often give us advice even when not asked in connection with breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and different childcare issues)
- society in general (we can read numerous articles in parenting suggesting the right way in various childcare problems)
- comparison to other parents (there is a myriad of “perfect parents” to whom we persistently compare ourselves)
Why do women have more prominent inner critics?
In her book, Playing Big, Tara Mohr tries to answer this question. According to Tara, following our callings and dreams in the patriarchal culture puts us all in a vulnerable place, bringing painful criticism or rejection. We can see this, especially in online media, when we read violent, often vulgar comments about prominent women. “Our safety instinct seeks to protect us from external criticism by spewing cruel self-criticisms.” A specific part of us wants to avoid the emotional risk.
What is the problem with your inner criticism?
- It could tell you things that are not true
- It is often an exaggeration – “you are always impatient with your kids”
- You can see things in a black-and-white way – you might think you are a bad mum or a good mum, you can’t know that you make mistakes, but you do many things in a proper way
- You might make extreme judgements – “you are so lazy; you don’t tidy up after your kids all the time”
Inner criticism causes a feeling of guilt, worthlessness, and self-doubt. It could lead to self-esteem problems and anxiety. You talk negatively to yourself and look for evidence to back them up.
Misbeliefs about the inner criticism
You might think that you need your inner criticism because it helps you improve and become better and better. But self-criticism can stop you from trying new things and is very stressful, so it is unmanageable. The inner criticism is not realistic. A realistic thinker in us always wants to move forward and find solutions, and stay calm. The criticism always uses the worst-case scenario.
How can you handle your inner criticism?
Drop your negative thoughts. Try to notice if you talk negatively to yourself. When you see it, drop it, and take a deep breath.
Reassure yourself. When you hear that negative voice in your head, find a mantra that comforts you: “It isn’t urgent… I can handle it.” That will soothe the fear that’s grasping you so your inner voice eases.
Transform your negative thoughts into something more encouraging. “I’m doing my best…This is good enough for now.”
Take time to connect to yourself and discover your desires and needs as individuals (you are the expert on what grounds and connects you to yourself and your background)
Remind yourself that all mothers make mistakes and are imperfect. (It is suitable for your kids to see you make a mistake and ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself.)
Respond to your mistakes with authenticity and compassion (in this way, you can model upbeat, positive, compassionate self-talk for your kids too)
Share your inner critical thoughts (helps you understand that you are not alone and release the shame you have felt for years)
Set realistic boundaries and expectations for yourself. (Try to be confirmed with your time and energy, set expectations that you can achieve, and don’t deal with what other people think)
Share your thoughts below
What does your inner critic tell you most often? How do you handle negative self-talk?