Many people, like me, have difficulty with a voice, a voice that tells a very unflattering story about ourselves. It tells us a story of all our failures, all the ways that we don’t measure up, all the ways we are not good enough. A common name for this is the inner critic. In many ways this voice isn’t fair. It has appointed itself prosecutor and judge. It lays out the evidence against you and condemns you for it. But it only tells half of the story, it only selects experiences that supports its conclusion and it interprets all that in the most negative light.
So, what you need to do is tell the other side of the story. Collect all of your victories, all of your successes, your good experiences, and the times you made good choices. This may be difficult for you, at least at first. This is because, if you are like me, your inner critic has been telling you the bad story over and over again for a very long time. So, it’s going to take you some time to find and collect your victories. And you are going to have to tell yourself that story regularly in order to build up it’s value in comparison to the inner critic’s story.
The next thing you want to do is start making the other case. Like a good defense attorney, you need to yell “Objection!” when your prosecutor is making unfair generalizations or interpretations. If your critic says that you always do something but your victory story includes a counterexample? Then present the evidence and adjust the general statement, the judgment, to be an honest and fair representation. If your critic is making an unfair or overly cruel interpretation or prediction? Challenge it, give an alternative version and support it with evidence, experiences in line with a more positive view of yourself and your possibilities. This too will take time. Be gentle with yourself, if you forget, and look for ways to remind yourself to keep doing it.
This may also feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or even fake. That’s understandable, natural even. Learning a new skill often feels uncomfortable and unfamiliar. And as for the feeling of being fake or phoney, you are challenging your established sense of your self. Your sense of who you are is largely based on the story you’ve been telling yourself about who you are. So when you begin telling a new story, it’s going to feel like it isn’t you. But remember this new story is based on things you have done and experienced, things you’ve been forgetting or ignoring. So be fair to yourself… tell the rest of the story.