You know that little voice in your head that has a tendency to criticize and judge you? Yep, it is your pesky inner critic. We ALL have this inner voice but the inner self-talk may differ in regard to frequency, intensity, and nature of the thoughts themselves. This inner critic may sound like “I don’t deserve this job” or “If it’s not perfect, then you are a failure”.
Unhelpful self-talk can create a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and emotions that can impact our mental health. It can lead to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and poor self-esteem or self-confidence. By quieting our inner critic, we can improve our self-esteem and overall mental well-being. Read along to learn what steps you can take to work towards quieting your inner critic!
1. Increase Your Awareness
The first step in quieting your inner critic is becoming familiar with it and increasing your awareness of it. I like to refer to this as “turning up the volume” of your inner critic. Pay attention to what the inner critic is telling you, what their tone of voice is, what is their pattern/when it usually shows up, and what emotions arise when it speaks to you. Once we can increase awareness of your inner critic, we can map out how to quiet and challenge it.
2. Personify Your Inner Critic
Naming your inner critic can put a humorous twist on navigating how to challenge it and makes your inner critic less powerful. Personifying your inner critic allows you to better identify when it presents itself and creates distance so that you can recognize that you are not the problem. The problem is the power you are giving to the inner critic and the fact that you are believing everything that the inner critic is telling you. Get creative with this process and it can include identifying a funny name, basing the name off of a character, and exploring what this inner critic may look or sound like.
3. Practice Self-Compassion and Grace
Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, as you would a friend. We often extend grace and kindness to those around us and then hold ourselves to unrealistic standards of perfection. Challenge yourself by exploring how you would respond to a friend confiding in you about the negative self-talk they are experiencing. Show yourself empathy.
4. Don’t Act on Your Inner Critics’ Commands
Once you have created some distance between yourself and the inner critic by personifying it, be mindful of not acting on your inner critic’s commands. Ask yourself if your inner critic is harming you or helping you? Identify your values and take action based on them – Don’t give your inner critic power over your actions.
The reality is, sometimes that pesky inner critic refuses to be quieted and sometimes we need a little extra help fighting it. If you need help understanding how to challenge and quiet your inner critic, our counselors at Natural Balance Counseling are ready to support you on this journey. Reach out today to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if our counselors would be a good fit for you!