Shh! How to quiet your inner critic

I have this bad little habit, at least according to my husband. I love to cook and entertain friends and family, but inevitably, whether it’s after I’ve made my Dutch apple pie or my meat lasagne or chocolate chip cookies, I have trouble accepting compliments about the dish. “Nah, it’s too salty/not spicy enough/should be crunchier/wish I’d baked it longer/needs some cinnamon” are the kinds of comebacks I, well, come back with.

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Skeptical woman image

I have this bad little habit, at least according to my husband. I love to cook and entertain friends and family, but inevitably, whether it’s after I’ve made my Dutch apple pie or my meat lasagne or chocolate chip cookies, I have trouble accepting compliments about the dish. “Nah, it’s too salty/not spicy enough/should be crunchier/wish I’d baked it longer/needs some cinnamon” are the kinds of comebacks I, well, come back with. And then I promptly worry it comes across as faux modesty about my culinary skills, when really the fact is, I truly can’t appreciate how a dish of mine turns out. I just see flaws in the finished product.  

Ditto with many of the articles I write. While I get feedback from readers or friends who come across a story and share with me how they enjoyed it or liked how it was written, again, all I see are things I should have tweaked before the piece went to press. And again, I brush the compliments off like lint on my sweater—“Thanks, but I wish I’d had time or worked more on this part of the article…” is my mumbled response.

Now this little inner critic isn’t just living in me United States of Tara-style is she? I’m going to take a guess that you might have your own doubter inhabiting your self-conscious. Or a little inner critic eagle eyeing everything you do. So when I came across Tom Muha’s article for The Annapolis Capital—“Achieving happiness: Control Negative Inner Dialogue”—it had me wondering, is it that easy? Can you just control all that self-doubt and criticism?

Well, as Dr. Muha, who is an Annapolis-based psychologist notes, you can’t really put a total stop to that voice. However, you can take some measures to control her. Here’s some of the advice he had to share about controlling your critic.

1) Change the focus: Work on ways to counter the critic by reframing the situation to imagine the positive. “Refocus on envisioning the happy ending you want to see,” Muha writes.

2) Then accentuate the positive: “Reflect on how much better you might feel about yourself if you lived by the mantra “no mistakes – only lessons,” he notes.

3) Believe and it will be: Muha cites research that notes that many times believing can make it so. “So whether you believe you can solve a problem or whether you believe you’re stuck with it, you’re right,” writes Dr. Muha

It seems so simple doesn’t it? And as I prepare an army’s worth of food for the baby shower I’m hosting for my little sister this weekend, I’m going to work on reframing, accentuating and believing the positive. Let’s see what happens.

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