HOW TO CHANGE FROM INNER CRITIC TO INNER HERO
Ok, this title could be a little confusing, because both of these voices are inside you. And they’re both great. The inner critic is very important. The secret lies in not letting it rule your life!
But let me start with the facts:
Fact no. 1: We have around 50.000 thoughts each and every day
And that’s the lowest estimate. That makes around 2100 thoughts per hour, that’s 35 thoughts every minute which is around 1 thought every 2 seconds.
So far so good, but…
Fact no. 2: Did you know that 90 % of those thoughts are neutral or negative?
How can that be? Well, we’re not born with them, that’s for sure. When we’re born, we start with a clean slate. We’re also not very bright, haha, from a standpoint of knowledge, that is...but that’s ok for now.
Our brain is yet so basic, that we only feel. Until we start to “understand” the people around us. Which brings me to…
Fact no. 3: All of our thoughts are learnt.
Things we heard our parents say, things our parents said to each other, things our parents said to us, things our parents said to others, things we heard other people say to each other, things we heard people say on TV or the radio. And later on: things we heard in Kindergarten, at school, from fellow students or teachers, etc. And even further on: things we read. Books, magazines, wikipedia, even the cereal packaging.
We soak up everything we hear or read from the moment we are able to. And the more we hear or read something, the more it starts to make sense to us. It’s like brainwashing.
If we see people fighting all the time, over and over again, we’re going to think that that’s how the world rolls.
And when we hear people complaining about their size of clothes all of the time, a lot of times we end up brainwashed to do that, too. You know where I’m headed, right?
Fact no. 4: 95 % of our thoughts are repetitive.
Which means that we have thought the same thoughts the day before, the day before that, and the one before that, and so on. Now let me get a little sciencey here.
How come we think the same things over and over and over again?
Well this has to do with our neurological connections in our brains. You see, if we hear or see or read something very often - in one way or another - then the neurological paths to that memory will become more accessible than others. Which means that MORE sensory perceptions are going to trigger that memory.
I can almost see you roll your eyes and fall asleep, so let me give you an example to keep you with me:
Let’s say your mom was always complaining about her size. So she kept mentioning her muffin top, she never would have dessert because she wanted to lose weight, when your dad complimented her she would wave it off and say something like “Oh, you’re such a good liar.” and so on.
After years and years of hearing and seeing stuff like that, the memory of a woman complaining about her size, not feeling good in her body, not taking compliments about it, wanting to change her body on and on, would be paved like the interstate 10 in Texas.
And so you could get to a moment where every time you saw a dessert, every time someone complimented you, every time you smelled something sweet, all of those sensory perceptions would automatically lead to the memory of a woman not feeling good in her body. Because you learnt over and over that a woman eating dessert should not feel good about herself.
PS: I am not saying that this particular mom ever WANTED you to feel that way...but as journalist Peggy O’mara once said: The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice!)
Now back to the facts. So 90% of our thoughts are in our head because they’re paved like the interstate 10, remember? And so all the we see, feel, hear, smell, and so on, triggers those memories ‘cause they are really easy to reach.
But here’s the good news:
Fact no. 5: You can rewire your brain - and yes: at ANY age!
Dr. Joe Dispenza is one of my favorite experts in this area! And he always says: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
This means that we can train our brain to trigger other memories. Positive ones. And we do that with intentional repetition. So it’s like brainwashing yourself all over again. But this time you can choose the thoughts you’re planting in your mind.
HOW TO REWIRE YOUR BRAIN
Well how do we get those positive thoughts inside our heads and most importantly: how do we make the easily reachable?
To keep using the same example as before, we need to make the GOOD thoughts more accessible. We need to intentionally pave the way to those thoughts. And there’s a lot of good ways to do that, but let me first give you the basic points you’ll need to consider first of all:
- THE TIME FACTOR
We can’t change our thoughts from one day to the other. That’s not how our brains work. Neurons need the time to rearrange and change their paths. It needs time for the connections to build up. Let’s give it time.
And I’m not talking about a two-week vacation. It’s more like months or even years. Think of it as an actual interstate that has to be bypassed. That’s how much time it can take.
- THE REPETITION FACTOR
You know how I described how your beliefs are built? By repeatedly taking in those beliefs through your senses. Hearing people talk, seeing people interact and reading about what other people wrote about their experiences. It’s that simple - and that difficult at the same time. Because to built your new positive beliefs, you need to take THOSE in repeatedly. So you need to expose yourself intentionally to exactly the things you want to see, feel and think more of.
It’s not enough to watch a movie or a TED talk once and bam! your way of thinking is completely transformed. The moment you step back into your life, with the same negative routines, the same negative habits, the same negative talks, you’ll be back to the same thoughts that feed the negativity inside of you.
You need to change your routines, change your habits and change the talks in your life.
Let me show you a few exercises with which you can change your thoughts, and ultimately, your life:
These little bits of thoughts are powerful statements. They are little mantras that are supposed to escort you through your day. By repeatedly saying and/or thinking them, you start incorporating the thoughts behind these statements into your brain structures.
There’s a few ways to blend affirmations into your day-to-day life. Such as:
Writing yourself little notes all over your place
Doing affirmations in front of the mirror
Using affirmations as a mantra in meditations
But how do you choose the affirmations that are actually going to fit to you and your lifestyle? I made a whole exercise addressing that PLUS I made a few affirmation cards to go with it in my 7-day Self Love Challenge I hosted back in November 2017. Go check it out if you want:
10 years ago, I used to tell myself that I could never do meditation. It just wasn’t my kind of thing, you know? Lying or sitting still, focussing on my breathing, channelling my thoughts into a certain direction. But the more I learned about having a positive mindset, living an intentional life and setting goals properly, the more I realized that I needed to learn certain techniques to calm my mind. So meditation was back on the table.
You guys it took me forever to being able to handle more than 5 minutes of peace and quiet. But no one’s saying you need to be pro from day 1.
Start with 5 minutes, hell, even with 1 minute each day. And then work your way up from there.
PRO TIP: There a quite a few guided meditations up on youtube.com. Go get a look at a few different meditations there to get you started. My favorites are meditations from Rasa Lukosiute or Michael Sealey. I am planning on doing a roundup of my favs in a few weeks, so keep an eye out for more!
Who else thinks that the blank first page of a notebook is the SEXIEST thing in the world? Endless possibilities. Immense potential.
I usually am a very minimalistic person, but I must say, paper and pens and everything scrapbooking related are my indulgence. I keep way more notebooks and different pens than I will ever need! And yet I can’t pass by a stationery shop without buying at least one set of colorful pens or yet another set of pretty washi tape. And yes, you guessed it, pretty planners are my kryptonite.
Now, journaling to me is everything you put down on paper. It doesn’t have to be some “Dear diary” kind of revelation. To me it’s also all kinds of collages, compilation of favorite quotes and other collections of words and images. I even think of pinning on Pinterest as a kind of journaling. And I think there’s 2 different ways to use journaling:
Write or pin down the things you feel. Why? Because thoughts are so fleeting, we sometimes don’t recognize a negative feeling right away. But when you keep putting the same things down on paper - in whatever form - you’ll start to see a pattern.
Repeatedly write or pin down the things you WANT to feel! We’re kind of back to the affirmations again. But it can be more than that. Affirmations are usually short bits of text. Like a phrase, or a quote. In journaling you can go really wild with your writing. For example: Write down your dream day. Or write a letter from your imaginary future you to your today you. Or write your own obituary to figure out what exactly you want to accomplish in your life. The possibilities are ENDLESS!!
EVERYTHING YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH
This is the most crucial thing. Of course the first step always starts with you and your own mind. But your outer circumstances come right behind this.
If you’re surrounded by negativity, it will be really hard to keep a positive mindset. If you’re in a job you absolutely hate, you’ll find it more difficult to develop positive feelings. If you’re living in a space surrounded by negative memories, it will be really tough to disconnect yourself from the negativity.
So yes, sooner or later you should question everything AND everyone you surround yourself with. If anything sparks negativity you should ask yourself if you’re able to turn it around to something positive. If not, you should consider getting rid of it.
And for relationships it’s a bit more difficult. You might not want to get rid of certain relationships obviously. So if you feel like any of your relationships has become too negative or even toxic, but they are much too important to let go of, you need to at least talk openly to them. Tell them about your journey to more positivity. Ask them for help. Take your relationship to the next level. It’ll not be easy, but it will be totally worth it. I promise!!
NOW TO THE ACTUAL TOPIC OF THIS POST
I started this post to show you how to change from inner critic to inner hero, remember? Now can you see how these exercises can take you from your 90 % negative to neutral thoughts to ANYTHING you want to think?
From "I can't do this!" to "I can do anything I put my mind into."
From "I'm fat and not worth of love." to "I am beautiful and loved."
From "I'll never succeed at this." to "My life is flooded with successes."
All you need to do is repeat these thoughts, or whatever thoughts you want your inner hero to think, over and over again. At first you'll feel silly or ridiculous. But that feeling will pass once you notice the difference it makes to "Fake it until you make it."
And once those new neurological connections are established, your inner hero's voice will be much clearer, and you'll only hear your inner critic's voice when YOU decide you want to actually give it a voice.
Now I want to hear from you? How do you think your life would change if you could shut up your inner critic just for once? Would you tackle something you were afraid to fail at?
And do you think your life would've looked much different if you had found these tools sooner? Tell me in the comments! And remember to share this post with anyone you know who suffers from inner over-critic syndrome. You might be able to change their life forever!!
Have an incredibly good day!
Remember to sign up for our FREE 7-day Self Love Challenge! You'll not only get the affirmation exercise but tons of other actionable steps right to your inbox!