Silencing Your Inner Critic

Just yesterday I called myself an idiot. I told a friend how stupid I felt. I don’t normally talk to myself this way. However, everyone has an inner critic. For some of us, our inner critic just shows up occasionally. For others, the inner critic sets up house in our minds all the time.

Either way, it’s important to be aware of yours. This voice inside your head can be very harsh and unfair. Your inner critic can affect your life in very unfortunate ways. Your self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) usually relates to the power of your inner critic.

Another word for this is negative self-talk. According to the Channing Bete Company’s “Improving Your Self-Esteem Handbook” negative self-talk comes in several forms. It says, “Your inner critic will criticize or judge you, unjustly blame you for things, and tell you you are not good enough.” Sound familiar?

The authors further indicate, “Your negative self-talk often includes unfairly comparing yourself to others or making your weaknesses out to be worse than they really are.” 

The more you speak negatively about yourself, the more it can affect your ability to function well in whatever you do. When we berate ourselves, this chips away at our confidence. We are more likely to live with hesitation, in fear, or not trust our own judgment.

We may miss opportunities before us or no longer enjoy relationships because we don’t like ourselves. We may not try new things. Living in doubt is not fully living.

In my case, I was viewing something I had engaged in as a mistake. I judged myself harshly. However, with some time I have recognized why I did what I did and in that participation, all my intentions were positive and loving. 

So that is the key when the inner critic begins to surface in your life. Notice the negative self-talk you are experiencing and find the reasons behind it. Look the situation over a bit more closely and treat yourself with the compassion you would give a loved one.

None of us are perfect. We are all just doing the best we know how at the time. Life can be full of bumps in the road or moments we feel less than glorious. We don’t want to dwell on these times, but rather embrace whatever lessons we can learn and keep moving forward.

So when that inner critic starts rambling in your head, begin replacing the negative talk with positive, more realistic messages. For example, let’s say you apply for a job and have an interview. If it didn’t go well you may say to yourself, “I didn’t answer the questions well. I blew it. I will never get that job!”

Instead you could reframe it by saying, “That interview was challenging, but I did my best and if I don’t get the job it was good practice for my next try.” Shifting to the positive self-talk will put any situation in a more accurate, encouraging perspective. This is far less damaging to your self-esteem.

Remember there is always more than one way to view any situation or quality about ourselves. As you grow in awareness of your inner critic, step back a bit and find additional ways to view things more positively. 

If you find something about yourself you really do not like, then begin the process of changing. Growth is good. We can all learn every day if we remain open to the possibilities.

You are more than enough just as you are, and so am I.

© - Cindy D. Whitmer (June 16, 2012)