Our internal monologue takes many forms and serves multiple purposes, one of the essential means of feedback to the outer world. But when that voice is perpetually punitive and criticizes our every action, it might mean that our inner critic takes its job very seriously. Take a step back and read the following sentences:
I suck! / You suck!
Others can do it better than me!/ Others can do it better than you!
What was I thinking?! / What were you thinking?
Just give up already!
I’m a failure!/ You’re a failure!
I always screw things up!/ You always screw things up!
Sounds familiar? Your inner critic can manifest either in first or third-person speech. It’s a pain in the brain, sucking out the enthusiasm out of everything. It draws you back from trying new hobbies, from speaking up, experimenting live to the fullest, and so on. This type of negative inner monologue associates with high levels of stress, low self-esteem, fatigue, mood swings, or other more complex psychological issues. If you noticed these signs, here are some ways of silencing your inner critic.
1. Listen to your inner critic and decipher its real message
Try to detach from your inner critic. Think of it like an annoyed neighbor and listen to what it has to say and how. Does it sound familiar? It’s not how you usually talk, right? You might realize that your inner critic uses somebody else’s speech patterns, somebody you knew.
Nobody is born with an inner critic; it develops through a learning process in our childhood, and we carry it with us until we learn how to deal with it. How can that be? Let’s go back in time when you proudly showed a drawing to an adult you loved, and they dismissed it as ugly or told you to stop doing foolish nonsense. It happened again and again and again until you started to talk to yourself in the same hurtful manner. In short, the inner critic can be an internalized version of an emotionally unavailable or very strict caregiver figure (family member, mentor, teacher) from your past.
Before we go on, I must emphasize that this scenario doesn’t apply to everyone – it is merely the most common one. Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge when your inner critic started to have a voice and how much it affects your well-being. The bottom line is that somewhere inside you, there’s a wound that needs healing.
2. Learn and practice self-compassion
This step consists of switching from the negative self-talk towards a positive, supportive inner monologue. You might feel undeserving, but this is an expected reaction from the change-resistant inner critic.
Remember, you are worthy of compassion, understanding, and growth, such as everybody else. Focus on you as a being, not on what you can or can’t do, your achievements, or your failure. We are so fixated on productivity and ideals that we often forget that we are living wonders.
So, for starters, try some non-toxic positive self-affirmations. It’s better to write them down and say them out loud in the morning when the inner critic didn’t have a chance to ruin your day yet. You can repeat them when you’re feeling under pressure or whenever you need a constructive boost. Here are some examples:
I am at peace with my own feelings.
I have done everything I could at that moment, and I am content with that.
I’m learning to treat myself gently and respectfully.
Another idea I read about and stuck with me is this: try to adopt the same attitude as if you’d speak with somebody you love. You couldn’t be mean to your grandma or your little cousin even if they don’t get you from the first try! Now take all that patience, calm, and warmth and re-direct them towards yourself.
Of course, there are many other ways to practice self-compassion. Whatever you try, don’t shun your inner critic! It might create an even more intense internal conflict. Just acknowledge it and gently change the way you relate to yourself. Basically, it’s all about silencing your inner critic with kindness and replacing it with constructive feedback.
3. Be patient with yourself because the inner critic is stubborn
These patterns of negative self-talk are deeply rooted in your psyche. They went unquestioned for so long, so they won’t simply go away with some yoga, an optimistic view, and a tea. Does this mean you should give up silencing your inner critic? Hell no!
It means that you have to be persistent, calm, and determined. Every time you feel yourself slipping back into the old self-deprecated ways, put an end to them by saying, ‘This is not how I solve things anymore.’ Progress and change are long processes that need your full commitment: you have to learn to be on your side and work towards healing your inner wound.
4. Ask for specialized help
Like I’ve said, silencing your inner critic can be a complicated process, but you don’t have to do it alone. Try to speak with a counselor or therapist about your struggles! ‘Easier said than done, so what’s the point anyway,’ you might say, but this is precisely the type of stuff your inner critic would say. If this article was any good, you already know that you don’t have to obey that dismissive voice. You can find the power to resist it and evolve in the safe space therapy offers.
Thank you for reading this material. I hope you found it informative and that it inspired you to make the best decision for yourself!