The Inner Critic is that voice inside people’s head that can be so convincing it can stop people in their tracks.
How well do you know your inner critic?
Critical messages tend to turn on ourselves and says stuff like:
” I’m not good enough” ” I can’t do it” ” I’m lazy” ” I’m stupid” ” I’m hopeless” “I’m weak” “I’m not worth it” “I’m an idiot” “I’m not good at anything.” “I’m fat” “I’m boring”
Maybe you have other versions of a critical voice inside your head?
Becoming self-critical can stop us from reaching our true potential. The critic freezes us in fear, attacks us for making mistakes, or judges others for their imperfections.
How did I get here?
The Inner critic usually comes from a variety of sources of significant people in your life. Including, parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches. They may have had good intentions and genuinely want you to succeed.
Are you too hard on yourself?
Harsh criticism doesn’t really allow for authentic personal change. If it did, hey, I’d be perfect by now!
I’m reminded of my old soccer coach. He would shout, scream and push me and the team constantly.
We got so tired and scared of his reactions it seemed easier to avoid him, glare at him to ‘back off’ or occasionally fight back and tell him where to go!
I never thought I was good enough to become the next George Best (that’s how long ago I played!) and the coach constantly reminded me that I would never match up to his expectations. Needless to say, we struggled mid-table for most of his tenure.
If our critical voice resembles an abrasive coach screaming from the sidelines that constantly compares and judges, it’s not surprising that despondent feelings and negative moods takes over when all is not going too well.
Simply telling our minds to “stop”, “buck up” and be more positive may not silence our critic for long. Especially when our inner critic has been around for as long as we remember.
It is, however, possible to reduce the critic’s influence.
I like this process from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that focuses on reducing the power of critical thoughts.
3 Steps to reduce the power of your critical mind
Separate yourself from the thoughts.
When your mind spews out its judgements take 3 slow deep breaths, step back and notice your thoughts as words or sounds in your head.
Naming and acknowledging will create some distance from getting caught up in the critical messages.
Silently, in your head saying something like ” aha, there’s my critic again,” You could literally give it a name such as ‘the Judge’, ‘the harsh coach’, or ‘Criticising’.
Reduce the power of the critical voice further by placing the thoughts into a different context.
These thoughts are just words or sounds. Sing them to a popular song, or nursery rhyme, in a silly voice. Imagine putting the words into a balloon, or writing them on a computer screen.
Back where it belongs
Instead of buying into its negative messages maybe you can live alongside the critic and begin to make more room for life enriching thoughts and ideas.
This takes practice, however the critic can become background noise if you pay enough attention to what you’re getting caught up with.
Do you have a critical voice in your head? What does it say to you?