Methods in Training Your Inner Critic

“The first judgment that comes to your mind is what you were taught to think by society.  The thoughts that follow define who you are.”

        I came across this quote a few years ago while procrastinating on Instagram, and it was one of those moments when a simple sentence proved to be life-changing.  I cannot remember who posted it, but I hope to spread these words as far and wide as possible.  Let’s discuss the reason why:

        One noteworthy struggle that ladies of about every age face is the fear of judgment; underrated in this category however is the fear of judgment from other women.  This is an ever-present issue from as young as second grade all the way to entering retirement. Memories of gossip, bullying, judgmental looks, and critical comments have left scars on many of us, and situations like these rarely seem to be of minimal effect but are defining moments that cause lasting insecurity and pain.  It is afflictive that such heartbreak can be brought on by our fellow women, who in reality we should be on a team with. 

        How have we become so lost that snide comments on another girl’s appearance or decisions is assumed to be nothing more than a conversation topic? Many of us even have an inner critic which brings me back to the quote at the beginning.  How often have you walked past someone on campus and made an instant judgment or mental note about their appearance, or even the way they carry themselves?  

        Whether the reasoning for this is based in psychology or due to larger social issues (which can be a whole other article), a single fact remains: we have to train ourselves to remove that inner critic so that we may encourage and grow with our fellow women, rather than promote distance and judgment. I mean when you think about it, nobody will quite understand the issues many women face better than other women! On an imperative side note, a healthy environment within the female community is essential for furthering feminine equality across the world.

        So, where do we start?

        Well, this all begins with the individual.  It would be easy to write an article saying “Hey, just don’t be judgmental.” But it really isn’t that simple; this is an issue which requires self-controlled training of your mind.

        I would like to add that this article is not to condemn as, regrettably, I have also been the critic of many women.  In my first year of college I created a mental competition with every other female and desired to be the most desirable. I had no inclination for female friendship and deep down I knew I only thought with such critique as a means of deflecting my own insecurity.  I even excused the behavior with claims that “girls are just too mean and dramatic.”  

        Yes. That was actually my excuse.  How crazy is that?!

        Life has a funny way of smacking you in the face with reality, and I am forever grateful this happened.  Finally, it became clear that I was not a good person in that time, and that female friendships were one of the most important things that I had been missing out on.  The quote from the beginning helped me redefine my character very fast.  I no longer wanted to be defined by critical, snide thoughts, but by love and care for everyone. 

These are the methods I used in training my inner critic:

1. Take ahold of your thoughts.

To take ahold of your thoughts means to actually grasp them before the thought can even finish.  This step requires the most active self-control because this is the moment you are training yourself away from societal norms and the norms you may have created for yourself.  Part of this step is also realizing that just because another person is beautiful and talented, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t.

2. Begin mentally complimenting others (and mean it).

Mentally complimenting others (and meaning it) is the direct way to interrupt critical thoughts.  The perfect way to interrupt a judgment is to place kind words in the way.  It flips a 180 on negativity.  Along with this as a little extra challenge, I encourage you to practice smiling at others.  It is a small gesture, but I promise you that it really can make someone else’s day.

3. Thoroughly think through the situation from their point of view.

Next is to practice walking in another’s shoes. The diversity of human situation is boundless, so there isn’t a single person who will automatically understand what every other person is going through.  That is just a fact of life; knowledge of this can allow one to act with open-mindedness.  You see, one of the most underappreciated skills on this planet is empathy.  Empathy is to actually take on how another is feeling while sympathy is to “feel sorry for.” One says, “let me be with you through this” while the other says “let me stay at a distance.” Empathy and understanding situations other people endure is a crucial way to combat judgment.

4. Begin outwardly complimenting others (and mean it). 

Outwardly complimenting others (and meaning it) is a way to bring love and kindness out into the world.  Think about a time when you were complimented by another girl.  Did it not completely make your day?  We should make an effort to do the same for others.

5. Get involved.

Get involved.  This step has a few meanings, but it is really quite simple.  1) make an effort to be around other women and 2) stand up against gossip. No matter how you choose to do this, this step is crucial.  The importance of friendship AND collaboration with other women is grand; especially in the academic world, but also in every other application of life.

       “The first judgement that comes to your mind is what you were taught to think by society.  The thoughts that follow define who you are.”

        I am ecstatic to see the way these methods can make an impact in the female community.  Let us act with love and protection for one another and get rid of that inner critic once and for all. 

        Thank you, dear readers.