You Become What You Think. Our “Personal Critic”

Most of us harbor a personal critic within our minds. In psychology, this condition is referred to as the internal narrator. It significantly governs our actions. At first glance, this seems quite rational, as this “older brother” in our head advises us on how to act in difficult situations. However, trouble arises when this narrator solely critiques us.

Praise from it is usually out of the question. It judges us harshly, criticizes, and exposes all our missteps and failures. It highlights imperfections. This latter type is especially familiar to women who, standing in front of the mirror, hear an inner voice instructing them on what to wear, or rather, what not to wear.

The internal critic not only guards our morality but primarily oversees our everyday, immediate affairs. It prevents us from wearing shorts too short for the heat outside. It disapproves of buying a pastry, even when we crave it. It protests when we want to vocally express our thoughts on the wrongful behavior of a colleague. Its voice is so potent that we almost always hear it.

Moreover, we console ourselves that this is constructive criticism which will bring us only positives and help us grow. We value its opinion, trusting it implicitly, believing it wants the best for us. After all, we generally agree with its viewpoint. Yet, sometimes, after a challenging day, when we are left alone with our thoughts, a somber realization hits us: under the weight of constant criticism, one can fall so low that rising again seems impossible. Constant self-blame does nothing beneficial; on the contrary, it lowers our self-esteem and leads us to withdraw into ourselves, retreating from the world.

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Worrying Will Not Save the Situation

What if excessive pondering over future events robs us of the present? By constantly fretting about what is to come, we miss out on the now. Such a state is counterproductive. Instead of focusing on salvaging what we can, we direct all our energy towards despair. This illustrates how easily we can succumb to negative thoughts, allowing them to dictate our lives. Ideally, the opposite should be true: we should govern our thoughts, not let them govern our lives.

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Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It

Marcus Aurelius once said, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” Reflecting on this message is worthwhile. Our thoughts, particularly their content and quality, define our daily existence. Similar to the saying about getting up on the wrong side of the bed: if we predispose ourselves to failure from the start, that is likely what will happen. So, why are we surprised? Why do we prefer to believe in miracles rather than the extraordinary power of our own thoughts? This power is immense. It is important to note that thinking about ourselves has two sides, and both are equally effective: not only do positive affirmations come true, but negative ones do as well, a fact not everyone remembers.

If we complain, vocalizing our belief that we are unlucky with money or love, then that is likely what will happen. It is not that “fate” has heard our words and cursed us. The crux of the matter is that our mind listens to what we say. And we speak what we think. If we hold such opinions about ourselves, it is no surprise that we manifest exactly what we have articulated. Thus, it is worthwhile to change the way we think about ourselves.

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From Today, Think Only Good of Yourself

Though it seems a simple task, it is not achievable for everyone. In Poland, positive self-thought is often seen negatively and is associated with arrogance and egotism. This contrasts with Western countries, where positive thinking has been practiced for years. There, it is frowned upon to complain or self-pity; instead, one should speak well of oneself. This does not mean bragging or discussing every matter with a forced smile. It is about focusing on positive conversation topics.

For instance, an English person, rather than lamenting that their adult son has moved out and left them with empty nest syndrome, will say they are proud their son has become independent. Pride is the dominant emotion, even if they also feel sadness and longing. Speaking openly about pride in their son’s adulthood becomes a form of self-therapy as they hear their own words and start to believe them. 

What Are You Thinking?

The extremely popular contemporary Irish author and philosopher Joseph Murphy, an advocate of positive thinking, writes in his book Your Own Superpowers: “Thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and opinions in your head are your brothers challenging you… Remember some of your dreams, ideas, inventions, plans? Don’t you think there is something in your head saying, ‘what are you thinking?’”. He provides specific advice on how to deal with negative thoughts that undercut us.

According to him, it is sufficient to direct our thoughts towards our intentions, especially to stimulate our imagination and envision a positive outcome. By visualizing the end result, we suggest to our mind what to do. This ability to imagine the end result gives us control over all circumstances and conditions. We should not fear creating in our minds a picture where this vision is already achieved. In this way, we become the architects of our own lives and take control over it. According to the author, this is entirely achievable and possible, but it requires learning this method and practicing it progressively.

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Translation: Klaudia Tarasiewicz

Published by

Małgorzata Mroczkowska


pisarka i dziennikarka, od 2004 w Londynie. Autorka powieści obyczajowych, reportaży o Polakach mieszkających poza krajem i rozmów z emigrantami, które od lat publikuje w prasie polonijnej. Matka dwójki dzieci, posiadaczka psa rasy labrador i kota dachowca.

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