Quieting Your Inner Critic

Quieting Your Inner Critic

You know that little voice? The inner critic inside that’s constantly comparing you to others, noting all the ways you’re falling short, and oh-so-helpfully pointing out every little thing you do wrong?

Or perhaps that critical inner voice is more of a bully, calling you names and harshly criticizing you at nearly every turn. Paying attention to this voice can lead to feeling ashamed.

We all have an Inner Critic, but some are lucky enough to have a really loud, insistent one. If you know what I’m talking about, keep reading. 

Understanding the Critic

While you may know deep down that the Inner Critic isn’t really a good thing – after all, you tend to feel pretty crummy when it shows up, right? – on some level, you might believe that it’s there for a reason. Essentially, it wouldn’t have much to harp on if you would just do better or BE BETTER…or would it?

I challenge you to think of a time when your Inner Critic was satisfied. Find just ONE time the Critic said “Good job!”

*Crickets chirping*

Know this: the Critic showing up has nothing to do with how well you’re doing. Read that again.

No matter what you do or how well you do it, the Inner Critic will find something to criticize. That’s what it does.

Its job is to find the negative and to beat you up with it, and it’s good at its job. It’s just a mental habit, though. And it’s one that can be broken.

Silencing the Critic

Here’s a surprisingly effective way to start to quiet your Inner Critic: record your daily victories.

Each day, write down your victories. These may be the things you did well, the things that took courage or persistence, or maybe things that others appreciated about you. Think of this practice as intentionally giving yourself some (well-deserved, even if it doesn’t feel that way initially) credit. Record your daily victories for three weeks and see what happens.

Spoiler alert: you may find that, by the end of that period, it feels easier and more natural to give yourself that credit when it’s due. Moreover, the harshness of the Inner Critic will start to quiet down a bit. Your life experiences may become brighter once you learn to do this. 

This simple exercise uses your mind’s natural confirmation bias to your advantage. Your mind loves a target. When it has one, it’s really good at spotting and holding onto evidence of that target. In the case of your Inner Critic, your mind is looking for all the ways in which you are not good enough. The more evidence it finds, the more locked on to the target it gets, and the cycle continue.

Noting your daily victories will give your mind a new target. It definitely takes some time for it to shift, but your mind will eventually get it. “Oh, we look for successes now! There’s one…and there’s another.”

Think about how much different your day-to-day might feel if you weren’t being bombarded by all of those negative thoughts, like: “You’re not good enough. You suck!” messages and, instead, were getting the “Kudos to you!” ones.

Think about how much better your day will feel when that voice in your head is filled with positive affirmations instead of negative self-talk and overly critical thoughts. By sneakily silencing your inner critic you are doing away with limiting beliefs and vastly improving your mental health. 

A Note of Caution

A word of caution, though, when you do start noting your victories, your mind – with its loud Inner Critic – is going to have a hard time with it at first. Whenever you try to find a victory your Critic will have a retort, a reason why that one doesn’t count.

     “You don’t deserve credit for that. Everyone does that.” 

     “That wasn’t a big deal.”

     “That’s not big enough to count as a victory.”

Write it down anyways! You’re building a new habit, and it’s going to take some practice to get past the awkward “this feels wrong” phase. Know that the internal resistance will fade as your mind learns that the Critic is no longer the one in charge. These cognitive-behavioral changes are the key to growth.

Sharing your victories can be helpful, too. We’d love to hear them!

P.S. If you’re interested in doing more work on your Inner Critic, you may like our new Ascend program.

“We all have the tendency to believe self-doubt and self-criticism, but listening to this voice never gets us closer to our goals. Instead, try on the point of view of a mentor or good friend who believes in you, wants the best for your, and will encourage you when you feel discouraged.”

– Kelly McGonigal

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