I’m far too busy judging myself to worry about judging you.
Quite often (and generally in a work context), I will be talking out loud and a voice will start in my head saying, ‘stop, you sound ridiculous, Just stop before you embarrass yourself any further’.
This voice tells me I look too fat in my clothes, that I’m ageing and wrinkled. It likes to analyse situations and tell me where I’m going wrong. This can be in the moment or after the event – it doesn’t discriminate. It points out my inadequacies and then really hones in on what I could have done better. It only focuses on the negatives, never the positives and really enjoys making me feel bad about myself.
This voice is my inner critic.
If things don’t go my way, my inner critic will tell me it’s because I’m stupid / useless / annoying / a bad person (delete as appropriate). And when things do work in my favour, my inner critic will still find a way to put me down. It’s the last kind of person you want on your team.
I’m sure all of us have an inner critic, particularly as it’s impossible to go through life without experiencing self-doubt at some point. However, if this situation does apply, then I need to meet you and discover what you’re doing differently to the rest of us..
The difference is for some of us, our inner critic can be debilatating and it can stop us from reaching our full potential.
This is why we need to learn how to silence it (or at least put it on mute).
Why the critical voice in our head stands in our way
Listening to our inner critic point out our every ‘failure’ fundamentally leads to low self-esteem and feelings of poor self-worth. It’s hard to feel confident when a little voice is telling you you’re not.
My inner critic tends to be at its most vocal when I’m feeling a bit down about myself anyway. This then becomes a vicious cycle because the lower our self-esteem, the more our inner critic attacks what confidence we have left.
Our inner critic helps us build up patterns of limiting beliefs. This is where we tell ourselves we’re not good enough or a course of action wouldn’t be right for us. Our limiting beliefs are defensive mechanisms where we try and stop ourselves from getting hurt or looking foolish. But ultimately, they stand in our way and don’t let us take new opportunities or progress.
The important thing to remember though is that your inner critic isn’t real. It’s just a stupid voice in your head.
How to silence your inner critic
The best short term way of getting rid of your inner critic is to become aware of it. Remind yourself it doesn’t mean anything. Recognise it’s unhelpful and try to dismiss it as just that.
Longer term, mindfulness and learning how to calm your mind will help to silence your inner critic. It helps us to observe our thoughts and let them go whilst recognising they’re not our reality.
Gratitude also helps me. It makes me feel more positive about myself, in control of my own life and can recognise the good things that are going on (rather than just the bad).
The better I feel, the more able I am to tell my inner critic to pipe down.