Change Your Mind, Change Your Life (Quiet the 4 Kinds of Inner Critic & Be Happy)
How The Mind Can Create Illness or Wellness
The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Changing your mind can indeed impact and change your life, both in terms of Mind-Body syndrome, and Personal Development.
Do you know that the life that you choose to live by or are forced to live because of financial or family circumstances can cause mind-body disruption that leads to sickness and pain? Thus, by learning to deal with the cards you are dealt in life, you can make the most out of it and lead a self-fulfilling and pain-free life.
Psychosomatic illnesses (Mind Body Syndrome / Tension Myositis Syndrome) are illnesses caused by the power of the mind as a result of persistent anxiety, depression, and stress that produce unhealthy physiological changes.
Many people assume psychosomatic illnesses to be imaginary and "in the head" aka unreal. This is far from the truth as the damage to the stomach caused by an infection is just as real as the damage to the stomach caused by stress. Psychosomatic just means that thoughts and feelings are the root cause of the pain.
Somatic symptom disorder refers to the occurrence of physical symptoms usually, but not always, without the presence of detectable injury or disease. Psychological and social problems such as anger or depression may cause body pain (especially lower back), fatigue, nausea, headache, diarrhoea, and sexual problems.
An estimated 25-75% of all patients suffer from somatic symptoms and they are difficult to treat. They are also time-consuming and take forever to diagnose as it cannot be explained by any medical condition or injury. People who suffer from somatic symptom disorder are not feigning sickness, instead they have lost mind-body harmony to a serious degree.
Research has shown how negative thoughts can affect health. They increase the risk of illness by focusing attention on real or imagined threat which may activate biological stress responses and immune inflammatory responses.
On the other hand, positive thoughts and emotions promote health. This research shows the protective role of well-being in cardiovascular diseases.
Studies have shown that positive emotions are associated with healthful biological changes. Humour has also been a crucial part of maintaining health since historical times. Plato advocated humour as a means to lighten the burdens of the soul and to improve one's health. In 1979, a famous magazine editor called Norman Cousins, apparently cured himself of a rare untreatable disease (ankylosing spondylitis, which I also had) by watching humorous movies for months.
One of the most important things to do when you have Mind-Body Syndrome is to fix your brain. Not literally via surgery or medication, but psychologically via your mindset.
What if I tell you it is possible for the pain to disappear without any supplements or medication? Does it sound too good to be true? That’s what I thought as well. This may sound impossible and too good to be true, and it may very well be. But impossible is nothing. Like all things in life, there is no instant gratification, and you need the right mindset and be willing to put in the work.
Just like you, I suffered from Mind-Body Syndrome. At its worse, I could not walk. Every step I took is like a stab in my lower back. I hit rock bottom as doing simple physical day-to-day activity like walking seems impossible, and it made me even more depressed. It was a negative spiral.
I have tried doctors, medicines, chiropractors, physiotherapist, and even natural supplements. But they only work initially before soon being ineffective.
Like what you are probably doing now, I started actively searching up for ways to heal my pain. I was desperate to get my own health and life back. What is the point of living if you have to suffer in misery every day?
Determined to get to the root of the issue, I read multiple articles, watched many videos, and did a lot of researching before putting what I learned into practice. There were ups and downs as the path of healing is not linear, but gradually, my pain started to subside. You got to stay committed. Check out my full step-by-step guide to heal your body pains naturally.
4 Kinds of Inner Critic
Apart from those steps, I learned that our thoughts can make or break us. There are 4 different types of unconscious minds that are negative. They the worrier, the critic, the victim, and the perfectionist. Some may resonate with you at certain points in life. Personally, I have experienced all 4.
The worrier always imagines the worst possible scenario and points out everything that can potentially go wrong before the project is even started. It stirs up emotions of anxiety and fear by imagining disasters, expecting the worst, and overestimating the odds of something bad happening. It tends to say “what if”?
The critic constantly judges and evaluates your behaviour and points out your flaws. It jumps on any mistake you make and reminds you of your past failures. It loves comparing you to others and assumes they will judge you. It even minimises your accomplishments. It tends to say “you’re an idiot” or “why are you so stupid”.
The victim tells you that you’re hopeless, not making progress, or that it’s too hard. It tells you there is something wrong with you, and that you are incapable or unworthy. You are not smart enough. There are too many obstacles in your way. It is not your fault. It tends to say “I can’t”.
The perfectionist pushes you to do better. However, even when you do better you still feel inadequate and are never good enough. There is always more you should be doing. Mistakes and setbacks must be avoided or quickly moved past. It pushes you to seek external validation, achievement, status. Acceptance by others is of the utmost importance. It probably even stops you from taking action because you’re afraid to fail. Tends to say “I need to do better” or “I’m not good enough”.
How to Handle your Inner Critic
Don’t take your inner critic seriously. When your inner critic starts spewing negativity in your mind, imagine it has a funny voice or is wearing a clown suit. The inner critic is not you, and it does not know what it is talking about. Treat it as a joke and laugh it off.
Words are powerful. The more you allow your inner critic to repeat such negativity to your brain, the more the unconscious mind gets affected by it and believe it is true, that you are indeed a failure. The first step is self-love and to stop being negative and bashing on yourself. Self-love is key. If you won’t say that to a stranger or loved one, why will you say it to yourself. Therefore, starting from today, stop all negative self-talk.
Learn to reframe your thoughts. Whenever a negative event occurs, remember that it is your response that truly determines the outcome. Change your mindset from a negative to a positive one. Instead of saying things like “This will surely not work”, “Why am I like this” or “I’m such a failure?”, say “There is a chance this might work out”, “I can definitely do this” and “I’m a winner”.
Give a reason why you won’t give up, or why you are not weak or unworthy. Whenever negative thoughts start surfacing, talk back against your negativity and challenge yourself that you are no pushover to it. Depending on which technique works better for you, you can either shout internally at your inner critic like “f*** off, go away!” or you can say it in a calm relaxing manner like “I trust you, you can do it.”
By doing it regularly, you will start believing in your capabilities and emerge a stronger man, both mentally and emotionally. This practice will also help to retrain your habitual thought patterns to bring more positive thoughts and happiness into your life. You can expect to notice a boost in confidence, and feel more capable taking on new assignments, challenges or positions that were previously out of your comfort zone.
By reducing and stopping your self-limiting beliefs, you will experience growth like never before. The brakes and blindfolds are off.
Apart from positive affirmations, I sometimes find motivation from inspirational quotes to be very useful for inducing positive thoughts.
Happiness is A Choice
1. Choose gratitude and appreciate what you have
No matter how bad you think life seems to be treating you, there is always something good or positive if you choose to focus on it. Simple things like having a place to stay, a job to get income, a school to get education, friends and family that love you, clothes to wear, or even eyes to see and legs to walk and travel the world. Count yourself fortunate if you have the above as millions of people worldwide are not privileged to have some of those things.
Since happiness is a choice, whenever you feel upset, you can look for things to be grateful for. It can be seemingly minor things that occurs everyday which you take for granted, such as a nice meal, the beautiful weather, and the sound of the music in your Spotify playlist.
Many empirical studies indicate an association between gratitude and a sense of overall well-being. Personally, one way I incorporate into my daily life is to say one thing that I am grateful for and to feel it with my heart. I do it first thing in the morning the moment I wake up, lest I forget. Other ways include:
Journaling about things for which to be grateful
Thinking about someone for whom you are grateful
Writing/sending a letter to someone for whom you are grateful
Meditating on gratitude (present moment awareness)
Undertaking the “Count Your Blessings” exercise (at the end of the week, writing down three things for which you were grateful)
Practicing saying “thank you” in a sincere and meaningful way
Writing thank you notes
If religious, praying about your gratitude
2. Change your perception
Look from your glass of life as half full rather than half empty. Sometimes you need to stop comparing against others who are richer and more famous, and appreciate how lucky and fortunate you are. Happy people count their blessings in life instead of worrying and complaining about the things they lack of.
Instead of being prejudiced against people based off what you heard about them, or worse still, judging off their looks, assume the best intentions of them. Most people are pretty decent, honest, and are trying their best in their field. When you look for something good in their words or actions, you will usually be able to find something. They will also be able to pick that up from you and reflect it back.
It is easy to be happy when everything is going according to plan. However, it is through encountering those setbacks and difficulties that you are able to showcase to everyone, the strength and resilience you really have.
Lastly, always try to be cheerful despite the outcome. It helps a lot especially when things go wrong.
3. Develop your attitude
A positive attitude and outlook in life starts from the mind, before branching out to other areas in life. It is not easy at the start, because your old brain has already created a lot of synapses and neurons which support your negative thought process. However, once you start incorporating positive thinking, you will notice amazing changes all around you over time.
Every thought releases some types of chemicals. When positive thoughts are generated, your brain will operate in a state of free-flowing and feel-good hormones called endorphins and serotonins are produced.
4. Choose to smile
A study from the University of Kansas have shown that smiling and other external expressions work as a continual feedback loops that reinforces our internal emotion. By frowning, you are reinforcing the emotion of sadness into your mind and body. On the other hand, choosing to smile tricks your mind into a happy state and reinforces the positive emotion into your mind and body.
Therefore, start turning the smile upside down. Smiling despite feeling down will gradually make us feel happier. Try smiling at others too. Happiness is contagious.
I hope all these tips will change your mindset and with more practice, the quieter the voice of your inner critic / unconscious mind will be, and your inner cheerleader will take the lead. Harnessing the power of positive thinking will create wonders for you and change the outlook of your entire life. Remember, happiness is a choice. It’s time to take control of your mind, and thus your body. Change your mind, change your life.