So what is this inner critic?
Write down all the things you don’t like about yourself. Not being good enough in some way? It says things like, I’m too ugly, too fat, too skinny, hopeless, different, stupid, unlikeable or why can’t I do, be, have something I don’t and on it endlessly goes on without a pause.
Yep this is your inner critic. It’s interesting to notice this endless inner talk is never positive, nothing ever seems to be good enough! Maybe it is time to help your inner critic become less intense!
Here are six ways to calm down your inner critic.
1. Be curious, whose voice is it you are hearing?
Who does it remind you of? Does it feel familiar from your past?
What was it like growing up in your family, at school and with your friends? Are those comments similar to what you’re hearing now? Whose words are they?
2. Watch your self-talk and ask if these statements are actually true?
For example “I’m hopeless, I’ve totally messed this up” switch to “Yes I made a mistake, but it’s ok, no-one is perfect. I can learn from this”. Be compassionate towards yourself.
3. Give this inner voice/critic a name to help you recognise it and not believe its commentary. For example,“Are there’s Cranky getting irritated and putting me down or this time it’s Sadsack feeling unwell, giving up, only looking at the glass half empty and wanting to stay in bed”. Make a joke of what the inner voice says or change the tone of your voice to help it become more light hearted and reduce the heaviness, control and power this inner critic strives for.
4. Notice what emotions and body sensations you experience when your inner critic becomes noisy and loud. Do you feel tension, shakiness, heaviness, nervousness, butterflies in the belly, numb, sadness, etc. Often this voice becomes more intense and loud as we unconsciously start to feel body sensations, irritation or emotions surfacing. Gently feel these experiences by breathing fully in and out allowing these sensations to move, without judgement.
5. When this nagging, incessant voice gears in, breathe in deeply and relax on the exhale. Rather than wanting to be rid of this inner critic, try this experiment. Try being compassionate with this part of you, just as you would be with a close friend who is upset or feeling unsafe. Welcome it rather than reject it and see how you feel. Imagine it is like a young child who wants all of your attention. Remember the adult in you needs to be present to take care of this part of you that becomes so loud.
6. Be curious, what has happened in your day that triggered or brought this inner voice into your awareness?
Sometimes this inner voice can be cruel, overpowering and hard to recognise before it has overwhelmed you. It is deep rooted and it takes compassion and patience to change.
Each time you come back to your breathe in your body and be in this present moment allowing yourself to experience your body sensations or feelings as this helps you separate from the inner critic’s control.
I must admit somedays I just need to tell it to back off, I am in control of the present situation and suggest it takes the back seat for a while! On other days, thankfully, I have more self compassion. It’s a work in progress!
I hope you find this helpful
Until next time ….
Holistic counsellor and psychotherapist