When we listen to that critical inner voice, it begins to have a huge impact on our health, relationships and quality of life. It can lead to debilitating feelings of anxiety and depression. The good news is, there are techniques you can implement to quieten that 'Inner Critic'. It takes time, but the more your practice, the more you will become more confident in using them.
To begin with, I will show you how to become aware of and overcome the constant attacks of an overbearing Inner Critic using some of the techniques I regularly use with my coaching clients.
The first step
Identify what your Inner Critic is telling you. Usually, they are “I” statements.
Instead of saying “I am useless” try saying “You are useless”.
This process helps gain objectivity and provides distance from the statement and the hurtful intent. When you start with “you are…” become aware of and notice just how hurtful and destructive sounding the voice and its sentiments are without reacting to it.
Remind yourself that these thoughts are a point of view, not necessarily a true statement, or a reflection or reality. Consider where these attacks could have originated. Ask yourself “what experiences or influences in the past could be motivating you hold onto these negative perspectives?”
The second step
Stand up to your Inner Critic. Respond as if you were going into bat for a friend. Begin by saying aloud or writing down a more realistic view point. Respond with a statement that is “I am not …. I am not…. I am not going to listen to this rubbish from you.”
Follow that statement up with observations that are realistic about yourself.
For example, your Inner Critic could be berating you about not speaking up when you had the chance in that meeting at work. Try saying out loud or writing down a kinder, more understanding version of the truth: “I did hold back when I could have spoken up but the truth is that everyone was talking at the same time and it was very difficult to get the opportunity to speak up. Just because I missed the opportunity in the meeting doesn’t mean the opportunity is gone forever.”
This exercise is not meant to build you up but to show a kinder, more compassionate attitude toward yourself and ultimately overcome your out-of-control Inner Critic.
Spending time observing and identifying those areas where you criticise yourself unjustly or limit yourself, is a powerful exercise.
Becoming aware of how hard you are on yourself, gives you the opportunity to choose to do something about it.
Until you do this, you will be a slave to your critical inner voice.
The third step
The final step is to choose to stop reacting and being controlled by your Inner Critic.
Remember that meeting earlier in the article? Here’s how someone who has chosen to stop listening to their Inner Critic would follow through: “Instead of letting the opportunity to speak up slide by, I could approach the manager and ask for a moment of their time to have a chat. I can speak up then. I will do that tomorrow.”
Clearing your mind of the constant battering by your Inner Critic is a life changing endeavour.
By freeing yourself from your Inner Critic you will stop self-sabotaging. You will be free to pursue more satisfaction and meaning in life. You will be able to manage your anxiety and even rid yourself of it. You will create more trusting and fulfilling relationships and even enjoy a more optimistic outlook on life.
Where to next?
If you'd like to learn more about how to deal with imposter syndrome and other habits that may be holding you back, then why not sign up to my free 6 part ‘moving forwards’ series?