Silence your inner critic – 8 ways to show yourself kindness and quieten that voice within 

Inner Critic

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We all have an inner voice in our head, don’t we? Some of the time it encourages us but sometimes it can be harsh and belittling and hold us back from doing what we want to do in life. This is your inner critic – and it can be your worst enemy.

We all have an inner voice that is always watching, judging and considering what we do from day to day. We call this your inner voice.

Whilst we all have a critical inner voice, for many, that voice is present every day and is so loud and relentless that it has an impact on their mental health. This can result in anxiety a paralysis in taking action as they are worried about the repercussions and whether they are good enough. This is when it becomes problematic. The inner critic can amplify anything negative and minimise anything good.

However, although self-criticism is common, it is possible to quieten it. A crucial first step in silencing your inner critic is to become aware of what it is saying to you.

What language do you use when speaking to yourself?

Most of us have a constant inner battle between ourselves and our inner critic. It sometimes feels like a daily struggle with someone who is dragging you down and making you feel inferior. This can result in a lot of confusion and paralysis, as you are torn on what you should do next.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you?

“I wish I could, but I can’t.”

“I’d like to, but I’m just not good enough.”

These phrases enter your head because your inner critic is saying things like:

  • What makes you think you can do that?
  • You’ll never be any good at maths so how can you run a successful business?
  • What makes you think you can be anyway as good as X?
  • I wouldn’t bother going to that event, no one will want to talk to you.

And many more……

Sound familiar?

The types of inner critic

There are at least 5 types of inner critic. Your inner critic may be:

A perfectionist – ‘Try harder’

Many high-achieving people have a high level of self-criticism. Driven by high standards through their constant self-critical inner voice, they push themselves to achieve excellence.

By chasing the high standards they have set themselves, they face constant anxiety about their progress, fear of failure, and unhealthy comparisons with others.

When not met with success, these individuals often face profound feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

A taskmaster – ‘You’re so lazy’

Imagine this inner critic as a bullying teacher who keeps pushing you to achieve a lot, making you work harder and harder to become successful. The message is that if you don’t work hard it is because you are lazy and as a result will fail.

A underminer – ‘Don’t even try, because you’ll fail anyway’

Almost like a protector, this voice will encourage you to avoid risk in any form, convincing you that there is no point in trying something new. It may prevent you from being hurt or being judged by others and you may not succeed, but it stops you from giving something a go.

A conformist – ‘What will other people think?’

This voice wants you to be like everyone else, to conform to societal norms and not to express your own individuality.

A destroyer – ‘You’re worthless’

An overwhelming feeling of shame and a lack of self-worth are often the outcomes of this inner voice, making you feel that you are not worthy of any respect from others and are flawed.

Do you recognise any of these as your inner critic? You could have more than one!

Most of us have these inner critics and we can do little to stop these self-sabotaging voices from speaking. However, what we can do is decide how we respond when we hear them and how we can use them to our advantage. Over time, this will lessen the negative impact and possibly turn those inner voices into our very own cheerleaders.

inner critic

Do you recognise any of these as your inner critic?​

You could have more than one!

Most of us have these inner critics and we can do little to stop these self-sabotaging voices from speaking. However, what we can do is decide how we respond when we hear them and how we can use them to our advantage. Over time, this will lessen the negative impact and possibly turn those inner voices into our very own cheerleaders.

How to recognise when it is your inner critic speaking

It’s important to recognise when it is your inner critic speaking to you. This voice will tend to:

  • be discouraging
  • cause tension and anxiety
  • use words such as ‘always’ or ‘never’, ‘must’ or ‘should’
  • go over the same old issues time and again
  • be unkind
  • be loud, forceful and dominating
  • be damaging

What can you do when you hear your inner critic?

There are various things I find useful, the biggest one being going out on walks and surrounding myself in the beauty of nature. Breathe deeply as you’re walking and let go of everything. including your inner chatter. Notice your environment: what you hear, see, smell and feel.

Another way to drown out the inner critic is to actively respond when you do something well. When you have achieved something you’d worried about, make sure you praise yourself loudly. Silence those inner critic put-downs that come into your mind to puncture your bubble!

Have one of your favourite affirmations at hand that moves you into a positive mindset when you say it out loud.

Make a list of your positive qualities and achievements and look at this when you’re filled with self-doubt.

Keep a jar of positive feedback and comments you have received in person or by email and dip into it when you are feeling low and unworthy.

Yesterday, I hosted our first Surviving Bereavement Café with Hayley Palfrey. It was heartening to hear from some of the attendees how valuable they find meditation sessions. I’d recommend these wholeheartedly – if you’re immersed in a meditative state you won’t be thinking about the past or worrying about the future.

Also here are a couple of resources you might find useful:

Dethroning Your Inner Critic Podcast with Joanna Kleinman,

Chatter: The voice in Our Head (And How To Harness It) Ethan Kross.

 

Learn to accept yourself

It’s easy to listen to negative self-chatter but damaging to ourselves.

Self-care, kindness and acceptance are buzz words at the moment, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Being kind to yourself in the way you act, and talk to yourself will increase your wellbeing.

If you are more accepting of yourself, you are less likely to care what others think of you. This, in turn, makes it less likely that you will listen to your inner critic. On the other hand, it is not surprising that a lack of self-acceptance can be detrimental to your health and mental wellbeing.

Inner critic

Characteristics of Self-Acceptance

An article in verywellmind.com lists some of the characteristics of self-acceptance according to Dr. Meghan Marcum, which are:

  • Being able to see yourself fairly accurately and recognize what you are and aren’t good at
  • Embracing all the parts of yourself – even the negative ones – and being happy with who you are
  • Accepting your values, preferences, resources, feelings, intuitions, and actions –  both past and present
  • Recognizing your strengths and accomplishments without being overly vain about them
  • Learning to acknowledge your weaknesses and faults without beating yourself up over them or engaging in overly excessive negative self-talk
  • Having a positive attitude toward yourself and holding yourself in high regard, without the need for others’ approval
  • Seeing yourself as a whole human being, rather than defining yourself by any one characteristic, incident, ability, or weakness
  • Being able to love and respect yourself

Live your best life

So ask yourself:

  1. What is the best way I can look after myself?
  2. Who is it best for me to surround myself with?
  3. What choices will improve my wellbeing?

 

Happiness is there for the taking if we’ll just let ourselves do it. I know when I was younger, I’d think I’d be happier when I’d lost weight or passed my exams or was in a different job. Of course, none of these made any difference to my wellbeing. It’s a case of being happy with yourself now, rather than waiting.

It’s easy to keep putting happiness off and striving to pursue goals to make you happy instead. You might say to yourself, ‘I’ll be happy when I have more money/a better job/when I’m retired/when I’m living by the sea…’

The striving for perfection won’t do you any good; instead, you could be more gentle with yourself by saying I’m trying my best and I’m ok as I am in this moment. Maybe you could have your own mantra to remind yourself.

Here are 8 ways Dr Marcum suggests you can show yourself kindness, which will help you to accept yourself and silence that inner critic (see verywellmind for more information).

  1. Embrace your values: Have the ability to identify, articulate, and embrace your personal values and beliefs. Being able to think and act in line with your values can make it easier for you to accept yourself.
  2. Set healthy boundaries: This could be at work, with your partner and friends, your time, and your finances. Set boundaries and stick by them. When others step over your boundaries or take you for granted, take action.
  3. Forgive yourself: Accept when you have made a mistake and learn from it rather than tell yourself off constantly afterward. Move on and give yourself some slack. We all make mistakes, so forgive yourself as you would forgive a friend.
  4. Avoid self-blame: Refrain from blaming yourself for everything that happens in your life. To paraphrase a popular saying, sometimes, it is not you, it is them (or a situation that can’t be helped).
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others: Instead of comparing yourself to friends, colleagues or famous people, concentrate on being the best you can be. No one else can be you, so be the best version of you.
  6. Focus on positivity: Try not to concentrate on the negative in a situation. Instead, see the positive side. If you have done something wrong, what have you learnt and what did you do right in the situation?
  7. Keep a journal: Many find it useful to write in a journal daily – either at the start or the end of the day. Concentrate on what you have achievedyou’re your positive attributes. When jotting down anything that has not gone to plan, focus on what you would do differently and how you have grown as a result. Also, what was positive about that situation.  
  8. Affirmations: Choose some affirmations that work from you and say them out loud every day.

 

Being kind to yourself and accepting yourself for who you are will go a long way to silencing that inner critic, helping yourself move forward in a positive way. This will reap benefits for you and help you to feel happier in yourself. And we all want that!

Anna Goodwin @2024 All Rights Reserved.

www.annagoodwinaccountancy.co.uk