We all have “inner critics” — that voice in our head that’s less than supportive, doubting, and sometimes even mean.
Our inner critic feeds off of self-doubt, imposter syndrome and shame. This is often an echo of the way that we were spoken to as children or a reflection of the value system we grew up in, like valuing hard work or piousness and thereby shaming “laziness” or “bad behavior.”
The main problem with the inner critic is that it keeps us from having a healthy version of the most important relationship we’ll ever have — the relationship with ourselves.
When we can learn to be our own cheerleaders, wise mentors, and caregivers, it makes life so much more pleasant. When we develop inner mentors and inner caregivers, we improve our relationship with ourself and see dramatic changes in how we interact with the world.
How do we convince the inner critic that they are wrong and that we truly are worthy, wonderful human beings?
One of the ways we can improve our relationship with ourselves is by consistently demonstrating our love and care for ourselves and by asking others to help us, too.
This is just like you’d do with a romantic partner – relationships need to be looked after and tended on a daily basis, and the one you have with yourself is no exception.
One way we can work on our relationship with ourselves is through our “love languages.” We each have a ranking of which love languages makes us feel most loved, valued and appreciated. The five love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
You can find yours here: Take the quiz!
(Mine are: “receiving gifts”, “words of affirmation” and “acts of service”)
Once you have found your love language profile, here’s what you can do to improve your relationship with yourself.
- Find your top 2 love languages and do (or pay someone to do) at least 2 things per week for yourself. For example, buy yourself a small gift (“receiving gifts”), use a grocery delivery app (“acts of service”), get a massage (“physical touch”). Make note of the ones that bring you the most joy so you can do them again!
- ASK for others to do things for you in your love language. For example, ask a friend to tell you 3 reasons they value your friendship (“words of affirmation”), ask a friend to surprise you with a gift sometime in the next week (“receiving gifts”), or ask your partner to do the dishes every night this week (“acts of service”).
This may feel weird to ask at first, but we have to get used to asking for what will make us feel loved. Plus, studies show that taking care of others increases people’s happiness. So we’re actually making THEM happier by asking!
Once you’ve made it a habit to buy yourself flowers every Sunday like Lizzo or get a massage each week no matter what, you will be well on your way to learning how to value yourself and understand that you deserve to be treated well and are deserving of all the love.