Are you looking for ways to overcome your self-doubt and be more confident?
We often hear the voice of the inner critic in our head that pulls us down. It is the voice that is forever critical about the things we do and don't do. Self-analysis is important, giving too much reign to this inner critic can take away positive energy and be detrimental to our self-confidence.
Here is a 5-point strategy (acronym SAGAR) that would help all of us navigate a strong inner critic.
SAGAR is an easy way to remember the 5 steps and each letter stands for a different tactic.
Once you incorporate it into your life, you will become more aware of your inner voice. And, next time your inner critic attacks you, you will be able to steer through. This in turn will lead you to feel more self-confident.
1. S: Self-love and care
I remember there was somebody once who came to me in my workshop and said, can you tell me what self-love is? And, I don't think I had a very good answer at that time, but today I understand what it means.
SELF LOVE is really about nourishing yourself, and choosing to talk to yourself like you are your best friend. And, not to talk down to yourself.
"Oh, I'm so dumb! I'm such an idiot!" – Does this sound familiar? Sometimes we curse ourselves for small silly mistakes.
So some ways to bring self-love and self-care into our life would include:
No self-deprecating talk. Talk to yourself with respect, even inside the head.
Pay attention to your own needs and do not put yourself last. Only when we are nourished and full, can we serve others. As they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Set boundaries and take a stand for yourself. If you won’t do it, no one else will
Invest in your growth and development. Set us time to learn skills or build knowledge in the areas of your interest.
2. A: Awareness of strengths
This is about being aware of your strengths – your talents, your skills, your energizers and acknowledging the same.
Many people are unaware of their strengths and underestimate their abilities. It is worthwhile to invest time in understanding what is valuable in you. If you don’t know, ask people who know you closely, ask your colleagues who work with you or those who live with you.
You can also get a strengths-based assessment like Strengthscope for yourself.
You will be amazed at how much treasure lies within you.
Next time when your inner critic points at you, you will know how to counter it. It may go something like this scenario below:
Suppose my inner critic points at me and says – “ oh you should have done this yesterday, you are not prepared, you are not ready”. I know that my strengths are flexibility and adaptability, I can have an internal dialogue with my inner critic and I can say, “Yes, I'm not that well prepared but I'm flexible and adaptable enough to handle this situation."
So, it's about learning to balance the voices that pull you down and the voices that lift you.
3. G: Gratitude to self
Some of us practice gratitude daily. We take time to appreciate all the blessings in our life. However, do we take time to be grateful to ourselves?
Self-gratitude means that you acknowledge yourself and all the good things that you are doing, the efforts you are making, and your good intentions. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. Not even your inner critic!
Appreciate yourself for who you are and take time to just feel that satisfaction of knowing you did your best.
The inner critic can make us feel bad about our failures, setbacks, disappointments, etc. Take time out to acknowledge and be grateful to yourself and pay attention to all that is right about you. You will know that you have done whatever you could have done and that itself is enough.
4. A: Affirmations
There is a lot of power in affirmations. I've tried them, and I really believe in them and I practice doing affirmations. My bathroom mirror has the words “I am awesome” written on them.
Affirmations have the power to turn around bad to good – be it your thought process, productivity, health, finances, relationships, and even confidence.
We can use affirmations as a tool to create whatever we want. Here are some affirmations that help build confidence:
I love and approve of myself exactly as I am
I am worthy as I am
I love and accept myself, deeply and completely.
Say them as often as you can, almost like a mantra… while driving, walking, and when you wake up and before going to bed.
What you vocalize- you visualize; what you visualize- you energize; and what you energize you actualize!
The inner critic can be very harsh and overwhelming in case of a negative outcome. Reframing is a technique where you reframe/rephrase a negative outcome as though it were positive.
Let's say your child did badly in his exam. So, your negative spiral thinking starts like this – “Oh my God, this is such a disaster... my child is ruining his own life… we are bad parents” - That's how the inner critic starts talking.
Now apply the reframing technique – Take a pause and a step back to reframe this dialogue by very deliberately changing the perspective through which you were looking at the situation. For example, you may start thinking from your child's perspective - what he is going through, what is demotivating him, what needs to change.
When you reframe in this manner, the voice of the inner critic loses its power to pull you down.
Start applying SAGAR in your day-to-day life to see your positivity rise. When you have done your bit and given your best, you do not need to beat yourself down.
You have the power to withstand your inner critic through self-care, awareness, self-gratitude, affirmations, and reframing. Over time, you will notice that your inner critic has mellowed down in its tone and choice of words. That will give more space to you to feel confident and ready to take on life!
Do let me know what you found useful in this article. Feel free to add your quick tips to navigate the inner critic.
Please share this article with any family, friend, or colleague who you think has a strong inner critic and keeps putting himself or herself down.
Wishing you joy & abundance.
Yoshita Swarup Sharma:
Founder & CEO - A Brighter Life | ICF Certified Executive Coach | Leadership facilitator | NLP Practitioner| Inner Transformation Specialist
Yoshita Swarup Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder of A Brighter Life, is an internationally certified executive coach (PCC). For the last eleven years, she has coached several senior leaders and CXO across the variety of industries and organizations. Recently she was awarded as one of the most influential coaching leaders of India by the World HRD Congress. She's a leadership facilitator, advanced NLP Practitioner and a specialist on personal transformation. She writes her blog from her own experiences and reflections . She brings with her 23 years of overall work experience and has previously worked as a Marketing professional in corporates like Coca-Cola, Dabur and Ranbaxy She's also a Kathak student and co-founder of Subah, A Covid Widow support group
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