The Science of Self-Confidence – Understanding Your Inner Critic and Buildin Confidence


Self-confidence is a learned trait that can be acquired over time. Doing so requires understanding how your inner critic operates and building it up over time.

Your inner critic may think they’re providing protection, but their self-deprecating tactics actually increase feelings of vulnerability. Your goal should be to replace this negative voice with one more positive and supportive.

1. Your inner critic is a part of you.

Many people do not realize that the critical voice in their head is part of them and shouldn’t be dismissed or silenced as it performs an essential protective function in life. A recent scientific study confirmed this fact.

At times, however, listening too closely can be destructive; unlike healthy voices of support, this one does not believe you are fundamentally good. Instead, they see you as an imminent danger who will destroy everything around them by being themselves.

As its goal is to protect us, your self-protective mechanism often resorts to using damaging strategies. These could include blaming, comparing, setting unrealistic standards, reminding of past failures and mistakes, disengaging from risks or change, or telling what actions should or shouldn’t be taken.

Although self-criticism can be helpful, most critics are unnecessary and demeaning. If we try to suppress or silence them, they will appear again in different forms with greater power if we try. We should instead recognize them as protective parts of ourselves and offer kind attention.

Make Your Critic Your Friend The key to successfully handling critics is acknowledging them as part of you that wishes to protect you. A great place to begin this is by giving it a name: bully, gremlin, Miss Know-It-All or whatever resonates with you – calling it this will put distance between it and yourself and give back power over what it says about you.

At this stage, you should explore its history. Look out for instances when this critic was actually protecting you from other critics (remembered or potential). Try identifying who it most resembles — whether that be parents, teachers, coaches or anyone else you share a relationship with. Acknowledging their intention while asking them to be more gentle when criticizing in the future can also be useful.

2. Your inner critic is a part of you that wants to protect you.

Your harsh thoughts that criticize you are actually part of your defense system. One of your primary selves, it serves to keep you safe from failure in certain ways: embarrassment, disappointment, rejection and death are just a few risks you might be at risk from if left to its own devices.

Problematically, its main goal of keeping you safe can also keep you trapped within an extremely limited world and limit any kind of development in terms of personal skills that could really benefit you – for instance preventing you from trying new things for fear of making mistakes and accurately anticipating what would put you in danger of embarrassment or disappointment.

As such, overcoming self-doubt and building confidence is no easy feat if this kind of thinking has been fostered from birth. But it is possible to learn new and better ways of behaving that will allow you to develop self-assurance; and professional coaches know exactly how best to assist their clients with these specific challenges and situations.

Another way of understanding your inner critic is to view it as your guardian or parent, who has taken up the responsibility of keeping you safe. Treat this part of yourself like someone you love who needs nurturing rather than something you need to change, and it may respond differently when confronted by inquiries from outside sources.

As you form a trustworthy relationship with your inner critic and provide it with positive feedback, its tone will begin to alter. Eventually it may begin to understand that being critical and judgmental of yourself does not serve your best interests, becoming less harsh towards you and becoming more kind and gentle towards you. You’ll soon be able to recognise when its present and notice its patterns so that when co-regulating is present and talk directly with it about what its doing or why. Co-regulating inner critics is an invaluable first step toward building self-confidence!

3. Your inner critic is a part of you that wants to motivate you.

An appropriate level of self-criticism can be extremely motivational. Your inner critic may be inspired by parents, teachers or coaches who expect more from you and are willing to push the envelope when challenging your work without diminishing you as a person. Or it could simply stem from fear that if you fall short of expectations you will be rejected, humiliated and abandoned – whatever it might be!

Conversely, if your inner critic is persistent and loud, they could be masking feelings of failure and anxiety about future endeavours. Instead of engaging with this negativity head-on, take some time to learn its function and origins; once this has been accomplished you’ll be able to distinguish it from parts of yourself that are motivated by love, compassion, and curiosity.

This can help you recognize the warning signs of your inner critic, such as butterflies in your stomach or an uncomfortable sensation in your gut, repetitive thoughts or negative self-beliefs and negative self-talk. From there you can choose not to follow her directives but instead take actions which reflect who you want to be and your desired goals.

Your inner critic might make you more sensitive to others’ opinions or more critical of yourself in certain situations, leading to energy or vulnerability drain. If this sounds familiar, document the voices in a journal and give them names; doing this can give them less power over you by externalizing their power in your mind as characters instead.

Think about some people that inspire you with their courage and kindness – such as teachers, coaches, therapists, authors, speakers or celebrities who you respect. Now imagine that your inner critic has taken the form of these people; ask yourself “what would my internal voice say about these individuals?” Ultimately, if you can identify and disengage from your inner critic and listen to positive voices around you instead, your confidence in your abilities will skyrocket!

4. Your inner critic is a part of you that wants to diminish you.

Have you noticed how certain people seem to effortlessly step into any situation with grace and ease? From public speakers and actors, to salespeople and sales managers–they all seem to possess an air of confidence that allows them to blend in effortlessly and thrive. However, many don’t realize there are scientific principles which explain what these confident individuals do differently, as well as ways we can become more self-assured ourselves.

An inner critic can be an immense power, and it may tempt us to believe it represents who we truly are, having access to immutable truths about who you are as an individual, as well as knowing all your innermost thoughts, vulnerabilities and the experiences which push certain buttons in you. This belief may lead to feelings that any time negative thoughts enter our heads it must come from within us and that somehow this must mean we are broken or damaged individuals.

When your inner critic starts talking, try showing it some empathy and asking what’s bothering it and why they believe what they do. By showing that person some compassion, their criticism should become less of a barrier to your own success and happiness.

Your inner critic can diminish you by making you feel small, comparing yourself with others, and personalizing events that happen to you. This leads to destructive thought processes which prevent us from taking the steps needed to move forward in our lives and make progress. Luckily, however, it’s not your fault for believing these negative thoughts and behaviors; these maladaptive coping mechanisms simply contribute to them.

Deliberately breaking free of negative self-talk requires first recognizing it when it occurs and choosing not to react in response. With practice, your mind can learn how to tune out this inner critic and focus on what truly matters; eventually taking control over its contents and building an emotionally fulfilling and confident lifestyle! Wishing you success on this journey!

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