So what does your inner critic sound like? Angry? Judgmental? Afraid? Anxious? Does it make you feel doubtful, guilty, or ashamed of yourself? Does it shake your confidence so much you hesitate to pursue your dreams? If yes, then it’s time to learn how to take a stand against your own inner critic and quiet that noise in your head.
Probably the first thing to realize is that while you may be aware of and angry, judgemental voice from your inner critic, underneath it is a great deal of anxiety about what others think of you. Think of it this way, if there were no one there to see or notice what you do, or ever find out, would you really care as much about making mistakes or not doing enough. At the root of many of the clients I see for anxiety therapy is this inner critic who actually terrified of loosing relationship and connection if they make a mistake, so they are relentless in making sure that mistakes never happen.
It’s natural to notice and compare to others and, realistically, you’re not going to be the same or even as good in some areas. As an Orange County psychologist, I see many of my clients trying to “Keep up with the Joneses,” and it’s just not possible with the level of success it takes to live here. Someone is always going to be doing better, but that’s not the problem. Things start to spiral downward when you start to berate or criticize yourself and this can quickly begin to affect your life. So here are a few pointers to help with silencing your inner critic to regain your own voice and control of your life.
Be Aware of its Presence
The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. This seems simple but is often a huge hurdle in the way of change. When you allow yourself to be aware of your inner critic, you can begin to plan how to defeat it. To do this, be conscious of the moments that your inner critic is trying to take over. Emotions such as guilt, shame, feelings of worthlessness are telltale signs that the inner critic is at work. When you feel any of these, take a minute listen to what you’re “hearing” and write it down. This is going to help you understand your inner critic better and leave you less susceptible to a “surprise attack.” As the saying goes, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Name the Inner Critic
In a Pogo comic strip comes the famous quote, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” While the inner critic may be a part of you, when you recognize it’s just an anxious part of you and then name it, you’re giving yourself grace and compassion for this scared part of you. The inner critic then starts to look more like a part of you that you can befriend and calm, rather than seeing it as an outside force that is keeping you down because of the negative things happening around you. For a little extra help in having compassion for this anxious inner critic, try giving it a funny name that will separate your own identity from it. Penelope or Huff’ n ’Puff are a few favorites of mine that you’re free to use.
Don’t let the inner critic talk you down by responding to it. It can’t keep fighting with your if you don’t fight back. When it’s telling you you’re inferior, tell it that perfection and performance isn’t what your friendships value the most about you. Switch up the balance by highlighting the positive things about you and what you’ve done while reiterating the goals you’re determined to achieve despite all the negative things it’s saying. Don’t go head to head and argue about why the negative points are wrong. Shift the focus to what is right with you. This gives you the upper hand and control over the internal dialogue.
Create an Inner Cheerleader
With parenting, it’s easiest to notice what a child is doing wrong. However, if you really want them to learn and change, then catch them doing something well and praise them for it. You need the same. Create you own inner cheerleader who is determined to catch you doing well and praise you for it. Why not tell yourself you did a great job, or that you’re proud of your effort? You’re worth the praise and it helps retrain your internal focus.
Defeating your inner critic is going to take some time, effort, and energy. It’s usually well entrenched in the battlefield because it’s been there a long time. Keep your focus off of whether you’re victorious in every battle and eventually, you will win the war if you are persistent. Having support in the battle can also be very helpful. Friends, family, support groups and others can all be allies in your fight against the inner critic. Of course, if you need more support you can always find a psychologist in Orange County for extra help in silencing the inner critic.
9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic, Health.com
Taming Your Inner Critic: 7 Steps To Silencing The Negativity, Forbes.com