You know your inner critic well! Your inner critic is always telling you that you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, that you aren’t lovable or worthy, that you’ll never reach your goals, that you’ll never find your life partner, that you aren’t on your life path, that you aren’t intuitive – the list goes on and on. This can really affect your self-esteem!
Your inner critic is quick to bring up your past mistakes and failures and brings every imperfection that you have to your attention, no matter how inconsequential.
Things you could never say to another person constantly echo back and forth in your head, all directed at you. You could be the sweetest person on Earth, but you wouldn’t know it from how mean your internal monologue is.
If you have this angry inner committee yelling in your head, it can feel like an overbearing pressure at times. It feels like your skull is about to explode just from the amount of stressful, anxious, shameful thoughts ricocheting around in there.
Why won’t your inner critic just shut the Hell up? Why does this part of you come after you like a stalker and hunt you down?
Truthfully, your inner critic is trying to protect you from experiencing emotional pain and isn’t trying to sabotage your self-esteem.
You may have had experiences in your life that were painful, and your inner critic is merely trying to help you not experience that emotional pain again. Sounds odd, right? Think about why it might help you.
Have you been criticized unfairly for things in the past? Have you experienced pain because you messed up, or punished for it in a way that made you feel awful? Naturally, we don’t want to experience those things again, so we tell ourselves, “I can’t mess up again.” And every time we do mess up, our brains go into overdrive to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Even though it’s mostly unhelpful, this is your brain trying to keep you safe by over-adjusting to the circumstances. Most people who are self-critical are scared of messing up and scared of what it would be like if they did.
So what do you do to silence your inner critic?
Acknowledge that this part of you is trying to protect you and thank this part for trying to keep you safe.
Create an inner dialogue between the two of you, and let this part know that you are safe, that it’s actually alright to make mistakes or to be imperfect. Tell it why you did that, and make it understand why you might have felt it was necessary at the time, even if you want to move on from it.
Let this part know that you will be fine if you experience some uncomfortable emotions, but that this doesn’t mean you’re not safe and loved.
Become friends with this part of you and begin to view your inner critic in a more neutral way – what it came into being for in the first place.
See this part of you like your new ally, the one that is always there for you and wanting to help you, and gently correct it when necessary. Treat that part of yourself like a kid who has to learn how to be appropriate and reward it when it helps you in an appropriate way.
This will help increase your self-esteem over time and will help weaken the powerful charge that has been created by your inner critic, and train it into something you can benefit from instead.
If you find that your inner critic just won’t let up, then decide that you aren’t listening to it for a little while. Give yourself a break and watch a movie or do something that keeps your mind busy for a bit.
Talk to your inner critic and tell it you are on a break for a bit – you’ll listen to it later, but right now you’re busy, and you need time to do something else or rest. It’s just like working with any bad behaviors, only in a part of yourself.
Now that you know that your inner critic is simply trying to help you avoid getting hurt, you will start to notice that it will ease up a bit and give you a break. As long as you work with it and understand that you’re defending yourself from potential pain and fear, you’ll recognize that the pain and fear aren’t there anymore, either.
And when they are, you’ll go through discomfort for a bit, but you can come back from it. You’re stronger than what you’re afraid of.
Have an awesome day!
Let me know in the comments what your experience with your inner critic has been like!