How do you respond to yourself when something doesn't go to plan with your kids? Are you able to be gentle to yourself, or does your inner critic pop up?
Do you notice when it comes up & what triggers it? Or is it so much a part of you that you barely register it?
Do you find yourself getting sucked in to believing the stories it tells you, almost as if they were a fact?
If you try to “talk back” to your inner critic, do you find you just end up in an endless struggle between what is true and what is false?
Do you find your inner critic usually wins? How does this leave you feeling?
6 steps to help you tame your inner critic
Try following these 6 steps to respond rather than react to an inner critic… it’s difficult, but it gets easier with practice.
Give this part of you a name and say hi when you hear them start talking to you.
"Oh hello, it's you again Barbara!"
2. Write down the top 3 triggers for your inner critic, so you can be more prepared for them to show up at these times.
3. Write down the top 3 things that your critic likes to tell you. When you hear these criticisms, notice oh yes, it's this old story again. I was expecting it.
As a bonus step, consider why your inner critic is telling you these things. Quite often our critics are actually trying to help or protect us, even if it is in a twisted, horrible way.
By giving your critic a name and concretely pinning down common triggers & criticisms, you are helping to separate your inner self from this part of you: it is a part of you, but it is not you. You are noticing that it is rather repetitive & predictable, too.
You are helping to separate yourself from this part of you: it is not you.
4. Ask your "Wise" self for its perspective on the situation. This isn't about being relentlessly positive, it's about being gentle and realistic.
5. Try to allow both parts of yourself to exist: the Critic and the Wise part.
By connecting with your Wise Mind you are bringing out the wisdom you already have about how else to view the situation. By allowing both perspectives to co-exist, not judging or reacting to either one, & not getting into a struggle, you are taking the power out of the critical voice.
6. Focus on your breath. Ground yourself through your toes and feet. Repeat until the moment of struggle has passed, and you can return to what's important.
By focusing on your body and breath, you are allowing your brain to move out of the Threat Mode triggered by the critic, and back into Rest & Digest mode. Then you can focus on concrete actions that actually matter right now.
If you find it difficult & start to criticise yourself, just notice that too. It’s your critic again! Remind yourself you’re building new, healthy neural pathways to provide an alternative to those well-worn paths.
What do you think?
Being gentle to ourselves is so important in parenthood. It's important for our own mental health, it's important to model to our kids, and it's crucial in allowing us to be the parent we want to be.
The Guilty Parent Club
If you're interested in learning more about how to be more self-compassionate as a parent, why not check out my Guilty Parent Club. See you there!