The inner critic sounds something like this:
You’re never going to amount to anything.
You can’t do this.
Nobody wants you here.
You don’t have anything new to say.
Who do you think you are?
Yep, that’s some of what my inner critic used to throw at me – and occasionally still does.
The inner critic is the voice of not good enough.
We all have some version of this inner voice and if we want to grow and develop – and perhaps most importantly, find freedom – this is the voice that we must learn to manage.
Your inner critic is like the guest that showed up to the party uninvited. As much as you’d like to chuck them out, sometimes it’s just better to keep the peace. Because here’s the challenge:
The more you focus your attention on the inner critic, the stronger it gets. The more you fight it, the more it starts pushing back. The more you ignore it, the more it starts asking for your attention.
So what do you do?
- Understand that your inner critic is only trying to keep you safe. Its intentions are good, but its execution lacks a bit to be desired. It can be helpful to ask your inner critic: what are you trying to protect me from? Get a little curious.
- Know that your inner critic is most likely going to pipe up when you’re about to do something that is really important to you. So sometimes it means you can actually use that voice as a guide. Louder inner critic? You’re on to something!
- Have a little fun with it – turn it into a character, change the tone of its voice. When I went to Tony Robbins last year, he had us stick two fingers up our nose and then say whatever it was that our inner critic was saying. Trust me, you won’t be able to take it seriously after that!
- Don’t do what it tells you to do. The inner critic is just a voice. Its words are simply thoughts. Create some more distance by simply observing the thoughts. It can help to note the voice: “I’m having the thought that … I’m never going to be able to do this.” More distance, less impact.
- Turn up the volume of love. The inner critic is really just like a small child. It just wants to be heard. There’s another part of you that is much wiser, compassionate and loving. Speak to yourself from that place of love, be gentle and kind. Thank your inner critic and let it know that you are safe. Nothing scary is going to happen, you’ve got this.
- Connect to the present moment. The voice in your head somehow either brings you back to the
past,or propels you into the future with images of what could go wrong. But if we really connect to the present moment, there’s often a realization that nothing scary is truly happening right now. The easiest way to connect to the present moment? Your breath. A simple couple of deep belly breaths can already offer great release.
The reality is that we all have an inner critic and really, you don’t need to take it so seriously. It’s a part of you that is trying to keep you safe and if you change your attitude towards it, you might actually see that it only has good intentions. In fact, it’s there because it cares deeply for you.
When you stop fighting with it and give it the care that it’s, in fact, asking for, you will notice quite quickly the voice will start toning down and it shows up less frequently. There might even come a time when you understand where it’s coming from and perhaps even welcome it! With a little re-education, this might just be the start of a beautiful friendship.