Challenging Your Negative Inner Voice

“You’ll never be good enough.”
“Everyone is only pretending to like you.”
“You should be ashamed of who you are.”

Imagine your best friend looking right into your eyes, repeatedly berating you and expecting you to stick around for more. You would be shocked, hurt and furious. It’s unacceptable for a friend (or any person for that matter) to belittle you like this. If someone spoke to you this way, you probably wouldn't continue to associate with them. So, let me ask you this: Why do we accept this kind of degradation from ourselves?

My negative inner voice has been a significant part of my life for over a decade. It was always there to remind me of my shortcomings. I didn’t realize it until recently, but long ago I unconsciously started to personify these thoughts. Its presence was so consistent, I almost viewed it as a comfort. My inner critic is tall. She towers high above my 4’11 frame, leering over me. She’s well dressed, reminding me that I haven’t gone shopping for new clothing in months. Her hair and makeup are completely on point, making me more aware of my many beauty insecurities. She is loud. Her voice is constantly booming in my head, impossible to ignore. She is the only person who knows exactly how to bring me down. She is me. For years this amalgamation of my low self-esteem was able to control every single decision I made. These intrusive thoughts, constantly running through my head, were preventing me from achieving my true potential. My ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world. If I couldn’t uplift myself, how could I expect to do the same for others?

When I decided to go back to school for my second degree, I noticed it became easier to ignore the negative thoughts. For months leading up to my first semester, that same grating voice remained in my ear. It tried to convince me that going back to school would be a waste of money and effort. I wasn’t going to listen this time. This goal was important to me. I needed to persevere. I started school and powered through that first semester, ready to tackle the following term. Going back to school boosted my confidence more than I expected it to. My doubts weren’t making my decisions for me. As I continued to learn and grow, my inner voice became quieter. I hadn't experienced this level of self-assurance in years. I realized that it was now time to challenge that voice for good.

Challenging my inner critic is now part of my daily routine. These thoughts were crafted over countless years and dismantling them will take time. I have begun to recognize where they stem from, bringing me one step closer to getting rid of them for good. Whenever my inner critic decides to show up, I always have something to say. Previously, I would have accepted every criticism as truth. I am now able to combat these thoughts with self-love. When I tell myself something like, “You’ll never do anything important with your degree,” I am now able to oppose that statement. I tell myself that I am grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained regardless. Whatever happens, happens. Here's another gem of a thought that has shown up more recently: “No one cares about reading your blogs.” Okay. That’s fine. Writing is something I truly enjoy. If I can use this creative outlet to inspire at least one person, I’ll be happy. My inner critic is still very present in my life, but she doesn’t control it anymore. I consider this progress. I am stronger than my self-doubt.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with these thoughts. Don’t give your inner critic all the control. Try to remind yourself of your worth. You are so beautiful and incredibly deserving of success. Don’t let anyone, especially yourself, tell you otherwise. Your future is radiant, your present even more so. Re-think the word, “flaws.” Everyone has insecurities and your inner critic is only there to remind you of them. Approach these perceived flaws with love and take away that voice's power. You are more than your self-doubt. Your negative inner voice exists only to bring you down. Don’t be afraid to rise up and battle it.

- Makenzie D.

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