Women put themselves down over 1,460 times a year – how to silence your inner critic
From thinking we've let ourselves go, to secretly feeling we're just not good, pretty, clever or funny enough, we're all guilty of putting ourselves down – but becoming aware of your inner critic is the first step towards a confident, happier you.
But new research has revealed the extent of this negative self-talk with the typical day seeing the average woman thinking more than four negative comments about themselves, which adds up to a whopping 1,460 downers a year.
Turns out men aren't much better when it comes to self-appreciation either, with the average man delivering three mental put-downs every day, which tots up to a total of 1,095 per year.
The study, of 2,000 Brits by Tu clothing, found that over a fifth (21%) are their own biggest critic, but 27% wouldn’t dream of saying some of the things they say about themselves to others.
Topics people give themselves a hard time about include their weight, hair and skin, while others deliver killer inner blows about their teeth, stomach and legs.
When it comes to deciding what to wear, adults contemplate an average of five outfits before committing, with feeling too fat or old, and not liking arms or legs being on display among the top reasons for feeling uncomfortable.
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While it might be pretty common, putting yourself down via internal negative self-talk, can be damaging to your self-esteem and self-confidence, so why do we do it?
Dr Elena Touroni, consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, says that though we all have an inner critic, some people have a much louder, harsher one than others.
"Our inner critic is formed in childhood from the voices that were around us when we were growing up," she explains.
"This means that someone who grew up with a lot of pressure, experienced abuse or neglect of any kind - or perhaps had very strict or critical parents - is likely to have a harsher inner critic than someone who grew up in a more supportive household."
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Mixed in with our childhood experiences and how we grew up, are the added societal pressures and messages we receive along the way that tell us we need to look or behave a certain way.
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How to silence your inner critic
While you can’t control what others say about you, it is possible to control what you think and say about yourself and there are some simples ways we can silence that inner critic and feel more positively about ourselves.
Get to know your inner critic
According to Dr Touroni, increasing self-awareness and becoming better at recognising your inner critic is the first important step to silencing it.
She suggests asking yourself: 'What kind of tone does it take? Does it remind you of anyone?' This, she says, will help you to get better at identifying your inner critic when it rears its head, which will in turn help you to recognise that it’s not you.
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List your best qualities and perceived 'flaws'
If you struggle with a harsh inner critic, Dr Touroni says the way you view yourself is likely to be biased. She suggests treating your list of qualities and perceived 'flaws' as evidence. "When negative thoughts come up, remind yourself of the facts," she says.
Offer yourself kindness and self-compassion
Very often we talk to ourselves in a way we’d never talk to the people we care about.
"When you find that you are talking to yourself harshly, think about what you’d say to a friend instead," Dr Touroni says. "Treat yourself in the same way you treat the people you love and care about."
Additional reporting SWNS.