How to Outsmart Your Inner Critic
The “Inner Critic” is that judgmental, sometimes mean or relentless voice inside your head. The one that tells you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not funny enough or lazy. It likes talking …
Whenever we engage with anything or in relationships, whether it is the beginning, the middle, or the end, our inner judge loves to get involved. Although the Inner Critic is very unoriginal, mostly negative and repeats adopted patterns on end his judgments take on hundreds of forms.
The judge is most definitely a thief, robbing us of our innate goodness, worth, talent, peace, values, and ability. He tries to make us believe in illusions, wreaks havoc on our spirit, and causes chaos in our minds.
He likes to break our ego and tell us we are not enough and bad. He likes to tell us we are not loved and not cared about—that we don’t matter. That we don’t do enough – achieve enough, don’t measure up.
Other times, the judge likes to stroke our ego and puff us up, telling us how good we are, how special and how unique. “Look how beautiful that purple flower is. Look how very talented you are. When people see this, they're going to find you very special.”
He loves to make us and break us. He loves to seduce us and tempt us. He loves to make us doubt ourselves.
So how can we silence this inner judge and get some peace?
Although it may not be possible to stop the voice of our inner judge totally, you can definitely learn to deal with it in powerful ways.
You are smarter than it! How?
Recognise him with presence rather than pushing him way.
What we resist will persist!
Be aware of dialogue in your head
When you become aware of the voice of your Inner Critic and that it is NOT you, you’ll being to see its patterns and agenda.
The main story behind the Inner Critic is fear. The opposite of fear isn’t being fearless, it’s being brave enough to move past your fear. Choose curiosity and compassion. With curiosity comes self-believe and a sense of trust in yourself.
First, understand that the Inner Critic is a voice that has been internalised. Usually it echoes judgments imprinted by one of our caretakers, perhaps around a time when we were between 3 and 6 years old.
Once upon a time it served a valuable purpose of protecting ourselves from love withdrawal, reprimands, punishments or even put-downs… things like that or worse.
It used to keep us safe and out of trouble by pre-empting the judgments of others.
Chances are, by now we don’t need it anymore to really keep ourselves safe. It is now just a badly outdated safety feature in dire need of an upgrade. Most of its statements are far from the truth. So beware of getting sucked in by it, and help it to update itself by being curious about its statements. Learn to talk back to allow it to become more realistic.
Second, note its patterns: Is the critic louder when you’re tired? When you’re really stressed or when you’re really busy? When you feel a bit of balance and insecure? What does your Inner Critic try to pass off as true?
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
(Try not to do this aloud if others are about – it may seem just a little weird)
Once you see him, there are immediate and easy ways to respond to your Inner Critic. It’s so simple that it may seem too easy, but it works.
Memorize some key responses and keep them close like a welcome message…
When your Inner Critic acts out, say something like:
So what? So what? That doesn’t mean it’s true.
Who cares? You think your verdict means something to me or about me? No - it doesn’t!
Big deal! Oh seriously, big deal! Really, big, big, big deal!
Why not? Why shouldn’t I do this? Why not? I’m going to do this anyway, because I can! I want to… no matter what you say.
Feel how these questions could empower you, and whatever you are doing, keep doing it anyway. Keep meeting the dream, the project, your free expression.
Give yourself permission to keep on going regardless of what the critic says. The inner judge may not go away completely. As long as we have minds, thoughts will pop up and some may be negative or judgmental.
However, we can identify him and say: “I see you, judge! You’re just a thought and a thought can be changed”. When we disarm the Inner Critic like this, we take our power back.
Let go of self-judgment
Obviously, don’t value yourself based on the voice of your Inner Critic. Don’t think you’re stupid or not good enough because you have those mean thoughts – it’s something many people deal with. Notice the thoughts, observe them, and then release them without any self-judgement. Be compassionate. These are just thoughts.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." ~Jean Sibelius
Choose your next thoughts carefully
If the inner critic tells you not to go beyond your current comfort zone, face the fear and do it anyway. You know you want to do this. You can’t choose your first thought, but you can definitely choose your next one. This next thought is your true voice.
If the Inner Critic tells you that you need to be perfect or lose weight before you can go to yoga class or somewhere else you enjoy being, remind yourself that you love doing these things because they make you feel alive.
Use language and attention mindfully
Words are symbols and symbols have great power. You can consciously create a positive dialogue in your mind. Choose kind, gentle and loving words and you’ll soon be thinking with your heart rather than being led by your Inner Critic.
Focus on what you want to do, instead of getting distracted by these thoughts. Wherever attention goes, energy flows – so direct your energy into worthwhile pursuits.
Commit to loving your self
No matter how mean that voice in your head is being, make a commitment to come back to loving your self. Always. Do whatever you need to do in order to come back to a feeling of love. Just a few minutes a day of this kind loving attention will build up your confidence. You are worthy and deserving of love.
Forgive yourself. Stop beating yourself up. Be gentle with yourself. You’re only human. We all make mistakes, and mistakes are nothing but feedback. It is a completely normal way to learn things – nobody is perfect, and you don’t need to be.
Your Inner Critic may be exceptionally mean, but remember that it doesn’t actually speak truth.
Celebrate your efforts
Once you start to bring awareness to your Inner Critic, you’ll start to believe it less and less.
If a year ago you couldn’t ever be kind to yourself because of what your Inner Critic said (maybe that you don’t deserve it) but now you have the occasional kind thought toward yourself – celebrate that. If you were once too scared to speak your truth for fear of looking silly, but now you do – celebrate it.
Surround yourself with people who build you up and remind yourself of how great you are
If you have people who show and tell you how good you are, you’ll start to believe it too. Surround yourself with people who can be your cheerleaders when you need them.
Take a few moments each day to remind yourself of how wonderful you are. We don’t do this often enough. You can keep a list that you can refer back to or you might like to note something different every day. You’re a gorgeous, caring person and the world is lucky to have you.