Six tips for dealing with your inner critic
“I’m not good enough”
“I’m so stupid.”
“I never do anything right”
“What’s wrong with me?”
Does this sound familiar? These are some common critical inner voices. Sometimes our inner critic holds us back. We all have that little inner voice that disproves or judges our actions and abilities.
Our inner critic begins to develop when we are children and we internalize how we are spoken to by parents, teachers or caregivers and this gets imprinted in our minds. That includes being encouraged, criticized, spoke to in anger etc.
Over time we then learn to separate our actions and behaviors into good and bad based on this and try to conduct ourselves in view of that. If we experienced a lot of criticism or negative feedback as children then our inner critic tends to become louder and more frequent.
It is effortless in criticizing how we look, feel and think and whilst at times we may feel it is saving us from humiliation or embarrassment it may be joldong back when these thoughts turn into beliefs it can be really challenging. Its existence can hamper us and it often plays a part in anxiety, and depression. Whilst the Inner Critic’s purpose is to guard us from harm it is constantly acting from fear. Our inner critic is effortless in condemning how we look, our intelligence, emotions, and just about every thing we do.
In this post we will be looking at tips for dealing with your inner critic. The last three of these tips you may notice are creative, unique and fun ways for dealing with your inner critic.
1. Try to identify and pay attention to your thoughts:
We become so used to hearing our own inner critic that we may not even notice the kinds of messages we are telling ourselves. In fact we may not even notice. So start by paying close attention to your thoughts. You may discover that you call yourself names or judge yourself for how you look or think or feel. By beginning to recognize our thought patterns it enables us to see the impact they have on our lives. You can also keep a diary and you my see a pattern in the kinds of messages your inner critic is telling you.
2. Pay attention to these messages:
Remember that these messages from the inner critic are coming from a place of concern. Pay attention to these messages and ask yourself were would this message have come from? What is it trying to protect me from? Why does this feel so uncomfortable that my inner critic is trying to prevent me from doing this?
3.Examine the evidence:
Our thoughts are not always true so it is important when our inner critic is repetitively sending us messages that we examine the evidence. Examine the evidence by weighing up the pro’s and cons in situations.
4. Give your inner critic a new voice:
Think of a villain from your favorite cartoon or movie from childhood. I like to deal with my inner critic by thinking of it as the wicked witch from the wizard of Oz. It doesn’t have to be a villain you can pick someone funny like Homer Simpson, Bart Simpsons, Ned Flanders although the inner critic is rooted in fear so try your favorite villain and see how it goes. By changing the inner critic voice it does a number of things. It makes us more aware when the inner voice is sending us messages and the frequency of its interaction in our daily lives Because we tend to notice it more then. When my inner critic is really active I find it humorous when I hear the voice I have selected and it actually makes me laugh. I find that this can really take the power away from what it’s trying to persuade you to believe.
5.What advice you’d give to a friend:
Many people find it easier to give advice to others yet struggle to take their own advice. It can be easier to show compassion towards others than towards ourselves. So I would suggest when you catch yourself thinking “oh your stupid” “useless” or “Can’t do anything right” then ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” Then, try to take your own advice.
6. Draw your inner critic:
This is one of my favorite ways to deal with the inner critic, and it involves drawing and giving it a face and body be it human form alien form a giant or spider. Drawing our inner critic allows us to externalise it. Always remember the inner critic is not you although it is a part of you. I would suggest drawing it and considering what way it would look. How it would dress, what color hair would it have, how old would it be? Be curious about it does it remind you of something your father or mother would have said? Or your teacher may have said that I internalized?
Most of all remember be gentle with yourself and show gratitude to the inner critic as it does believes these messages it is feeding us are to help and it is working from a place of fear. This does not mean we have to believe these messages. We can evaluate the evidence and try the above tips. We can also use mediation and guided progressive muscular relaxation as they are also useful for calming our inner critic. So make use of the abundance of relaxed breathing techniques and mediation on YouTube.
I am always happy to help if you would like to give me a call. I hope you find this post useful.
Mosaic Counselling & Psychotherapy