I don’t know about you, but I am incredibly hard on myself. Sometimes I’m not even aware how mean I am to myself. It seems to come naturally. The statements “you’re not good enough,” and “you could have tried harder,” and “you aren’t worthy” play on a loop inside my brain daily. I don’t know where this inner critic came from. I didn’t grow up with overly demanding parents. My home life was and continues to be full of love and acceptance. Of course, I had my share of middle school bullies, but other than that, my low self-esteem seems to originate from me. Everyone struggles with their inner critic at times, but when we let the inner critic have the final say, this is when things can get dangerous for our mental health.
So how do we silence our inner critic? Well, I’m not sure if we can truly silence them, but we can certainly make them quieter. Here are 5 ways I have worked to quiet my inner critic.
Being mindful of your inner critic is the first step to quieting it. We aren’t always aware of how often we talk negatively to ourselves. Think about a time someone pointed out something you could work on at work or in school. It might have just been some healthy constructive criticism, but your inner critic twisted it into meaning you suck at your job or are stupid because you didn’t think of that first. I’ve done this many times, especially on performance reviews at work. The review could be full of six good things and one thing I could work on, and my inner critic will fixate on that one thing. Being aware of the negative self-talk when it starts will help you to stop it before it goes into a mental spiral.
Write Down Positive Moments
Anytime something good happens, write it down. Your boss compliments your work, a family member appreciates what you do for them, a friend thanks you for listening, all these small moments, write them down, and then when your inner critic is being loud, pull out your journal and read through all these positive moments. They will serve as a reminder of how worthy and capable you are. It’s hard to recall these times when you’re in the midst of an attack by your inner critic, so having them written down and ready to read is key.
Have a Mantra
Write down a mantra. It can be phrases like “I am enough” or “I am worthy of good things happening to me.” It might sound like it won’t work, but our brains are like sponges, and the more we repeat a message, the more we believe it. So pick a mantra and write it on a Post-It or two. Then stick that Post-It where you’ll see it each day, like on your mirror. Or set a daily reminder of the mantra on your phone. Whatever works for you.
Celebrate the Big and Especially the Small Things
When you achieve something, celebrate it. It can be something big like a work promotion, or something small like finishing your laundry or making your bed. Anytime you accomplish something, mentally congratulate yourself. The more accomplished you feel, the harder it will be for your inner critic to berate you. Accomplishments, like positive moments, are weapons against your inner critic.
Try to Observe the Inner Critic Objectively
When your inner critic is going off again, another way to deal with it is by trying to observe the critic objectively. Mentally distance yourself and observe the critic’s words as if they are speaking about someone else. Do they sound rational or like a bully? Are their arguments logical and reasonable? Imagine that the critic is speaking about your best friend or mother. How would you respond to them?
Ultimately, there is no way of completely getting rid of the inner critic. We all have one. Some are just louder than others. The key is quieting them, and not taking what they say to heart. We are all worthy and enough just as we are.