How To Silence Your Inner Critic
By: Rachel Lustbader
Updated February 17, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lori Jones, LMHC
You could've done that so much better. Why did you give up so easily? Of course, It's because you fail at everything you do!
I performed terribly in that interview. I'm no good at interviewing, and I'm never going to get a job, no matter how hard I try.
This is the third time this week I've forgotten to pick up my child from school. With the way things are going, should I even keep trying to be a parent?!
The inner critic. The dreaded voice within that comes out to tell us that we are not good enough when we've made mistakes. The above examples reflect exactly that, people going through everyday situations and punishing themselves for not meeting their expectations. No one is harder on us than we are on ourselves.
For some people, the inner critic is a friend. It pushes them to become better and gives gentle reminders to get back on track and achieve their goals. For others, however, the inner critic is an enemy. It is someone who provides so much criticism that the person begins to experience lower self-esteem, self-doubt, and even mental illnesses when these negative thought patterns are allowed to continue.
In this article, we are going to focus on the latter and discover ways to silence your inner critic. Here are the steps that you need to take to do so:
Cultivate Awareness Around Your Thoughts
Awareness breeds change. To create change in the way that you think about yourself and what you tell yourself when you make a mistake, you need to become aware of these types of thoughts and how they affect you.
Next time you mess up, stop and listen to your inner voice. What is it that you're telling yourself? Are these types of thoughts a common occurrence? How do you feel when you hear these words from within? If you were talking to someone else, how would it feel to hear these words be directed towards them?
Once you take a moment to stop and listen to yourself, you will be shocked by what you are telling yourself. After all, it's not normal to bully yourself to the point where you are unable to see your value. Notice these trends, and you will have made a huge step towards silencing that critic within you.
Stop Yourself When You Notice This Behavior
Now that you are aware of your negative thought patterns, you can stop these thoughts in their tracks. When a negative thought surfaces, challenge it. Tell yourself that what you are saying is not acceptable and that this type of talk will no longer be tolerated.
This won't come easy at first, and you may have trouble trying to prevent these intrusive thoughts from entering your mind. For those of you who come across this problem, the best solution is to treat the inner critic as if it was another person. Would you allow yourself to be treated like that by a friend, a family member, or a stranger?
Certainly not! Tell the inner critic that if they are going to speak to you poorly and treat you negatively, that they are not welcome in your presence. Push them away and stop allowing them into your life. Like an unwanted visitor, the inner critic will eventually realize that it has no place in your head.
Replace the Negative Talk With Positive Thoughts
Once you've managed to isolate and block out the inner critic, you need to start replacing the noise that used to be there with positive thoughts. How can you do this? Well, let's imagine that you have just finished an interview and you didn't do quite as well as you expected to.
Normally, your inner critic would say something similar to the example at the beginning of this article.
"I performed terribly in that interview. I'm no good at interviewing, and I'm never going to get a job, no matter how hard I try."
However, if you follow these steps carefully, the outcome should look a little more like this:
"I performed terribly in that… Wait, I'm not going to put myself down this time! While I do recognize that the interview didn't go as well as it could have, I tried my best, and I learned a lot from the situation. Next time, I can try making more eye contact and highlighting my vast experience. I will conquer the next interview!"
In the second situation, you effectively stopped your toxic inner critic from putting you down, recognized what went wrong in the situation, and then encouraged yourself with positive feedback and thoughts. This is the type of response that you should be expecting from yourself when you make mistakes. Positivity will take you much farther than negativity will, no matter how brutally honest it may seem.
Practice and Repeat
The most important thing to remember about silencing your inner critic is that it is a process, much like any other type of behavioral change. It will not come easy at first, and you will certainly slip back into old habits, but once you begin to create this positive change in your life, the inner critic that conquered you will fade away and be replaced by a kinder, more helpful version.
The best way to silence your inner critic and build a positive substitute is to make a habit of it. How can you do this? Well, you can start by:
- Leaving Gentle Reminders- A great way to both break and build new habits is by creating reminders as to why you are attempting to do it. Whether it be on sticky notes, on your phone, or in a journal, leave yourself several reminders in plain sight. When you start engaging in the negative behavior, you will be able to look at your phone and your journal and regain that motivation that was driving you in the first place.
- Taking It Slow and Rewarding Yourself- As stated above, it is not going to be an easy process silencing your inner critic. You are going to experience difficult times. Instead of getting down to yourself further when you don't manage to quiet the inner critic, celebrate the positive moments. Celebrate your breakthroughs and accept when you have moments that aren't as positive. Progress comes with perseverance.
- Finding Out Why You Continue to Talk Negatively- We tend to stick by our bad habits because they provide us with some reward. Take some time to figure out why it is you keep engaging in your behavior. Are you scared of moving out of your comfort zone and you decide to keep yourself down to prevent yourself from moving forward? Are you afraid of how you might feel if you choose to accept positivity in your life? Whatever the reason for your behavior may be, look deep into yourself and overcome your fears to move past the inner critic and into a place of happiness.
- Sending Your Intentions Out Into the Universe- As you may already know, it's hard to be accountable for your actions if you are on your own in your mission. When you put your intentions out into the universe, however, being held accountable and following through becomes much easier. How can you put your intentions out into the universe? Do something as simple as writing a post on social media or by having a friend help you out with your goals. The people who see your mission will be the driving force behind why you will continue to fight against your negative thoughts.
- Finding People Who Will Inspire You- It can be difficult to break away from your negative thinking if you choose to hang around people who are consistently negative. While you shouldn't cut off your family and friends if they are negative, it can be good to break away from them and seek out new relationships that will nourish the side of us we need to break free of our inner critic. Get out into the world and find these people. You will know who they are when you experience the pure positivity that emanates from them.
If you ever find that your inner critic regains control of your thoughts, all you have to do is return to this article and work your way through these steps once again.
That being said, starting can be quite difficult and may be almost impossible for some people, especially if you are dealing with a mental disorder that is preventing you from making a positive shift. No matter what the reason is that you are having difficulty overcoming your negative thought patterns, you can receive help by visiting https://betterhelp.com/start/.
BetterHelp is a website that helps people connect with online therapists and counselors for a convenient, meaningful, affordable experience. If you are interested in learning more and believe that you can benefit from the help, visit their website by clicking on the link above.