The introvert mind can be a hostile place. If we’re not careful, our overthinking mind can use many weapons against us—the most dangerous of which is self-criticisim.
If you struggle with self-criticism, then you know how exhausting and frustrating it can be. You know how your mean thoughts can cut down your self-esteem and make you feel small.
As an introvert, your self-critical mind is often at its loudest when you’re with other people. Perhaps, it starts to get down on you for being too quiet or saying the wrong thing.
If you’re an introvert who notices microexpressions (facial experessions that last for only a moment), you might find yourself overthinking the slightest hint of a frown.
“They hate me!” yells the self-critical mind.
Being highly self-critical often goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism, and this is when it becomes an extra difficult habit to break.
The ego codes perfectionism as a highly useful survival mechanism.
It allows you to focus all your energy on being perfect while avoiding the underlying painful emotions that drive you to be so hard on yourself.
I’ve noticed that I am most self-critical when I’m overly tired and stressed. It’s more difficult for introverts to control our thoughts when we’re exhausted.
That’s why I try to leave social gatherings well before my social batteries are completely drained.
It’s also why I’ve learned to stop pushing myself to the point of exhaustion with work. It always ends up backfiring, as my creativity dissolves into an abyss of self-criticism.
If you, too, struggle with self-critical thoughts, here are three steps to get them under control.
3 Steps to change the self-critical brain
Acceptance is the opposite of criticism. Instead of demanding more of yourself, you say, “this is where I am right now and that’s ok.”
You also accept your circumstances, even if they’re not ideal. This doesn’t mean you don’t aim to change them.
Part of transformation is being able to hold two opposing states at once. You accept where you are now, while also envisioning what you want instead.
Letting go of judgment is key. Let go of the stories surrounding where you are now. Your circumstances don’t mean you are bad, wrong, or behind in life.
Your brain cannot be critical when you’re focused on what you’re grateful for.
Having a daily gratitude practice in which you write out what you’re thankful for will train your brain to focus on the positive.
During lockdown I developed the habit of writing what I am grateful for in my journal each morning.
I have found that, for me, it’s more effective if I write it out in full sentences, rather than making a bullet list.
After doing my morning gratitude practice for a while, I started to notice things to be grateful for throughout the day.
My mind began to say, “wow, I’m so grateful for this moment,” rather than going to its previous default state of being critical.
A confident mind is a strong mind. There are many steps to building lasting confidence, but one crucial first step is to learn to trust yourself.
We build trust in ourselves in much the same way that we build it with others. We follow through on our commitments to ourselves.
Set yourself up for success by making promises to yourself that you can actually keep. Set small achievable goals and follow through.
Along the way, let go of compare and despair. Focus on your own progress, rather than worrying about others who seem further along.
If you like receiving daily nuggets of introvert inspiration like this, be sure to check out my book The Year of The Introvert: A Journal of Daily Inspiration for the Inwardly Inclined.
Now is the best time to grab a copy for yourself or as a gift, since it’s a daybook with 365 quotes, insights, and journaling prompts to make 2021 your best year yet!
P.S. If you’re new to the blog, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Michaela Chung, author of The Irresistible Introvert and The Year of The Introvert, and creator of this amazing innie community we have here. For several years, I’ve been building up a labyrinth of introvert resources that will take you on a magical journey toward more confidence, connection, and self-love. Start with this free Introvert Connection Guide.