The Secret to Overcoming Your Inner Critic
You’re sitting in the waiting room for that job interview, and your hands begin to shake. You feel that red nervous rash make its way up your neck. Your heart begins to flutter.
You hear your inner critic, that negative voice inside of you, rear it’s ugly head and tell you that you’re not good enough. You suck at interviews. You’re not great at selling yourself. There are probably people more experienced than you going for the position.
You tell the voice to go away. That you’re going to do the best you can. But you can’t help but feel it haunting you in the back of your mind. Your confidence drops.
We all experience this negative voice from time to time. It likes to speak up at the most awkward and inconvenient of times. When we already have pressure on ourselves. When we are looking in the mirror. When we are meeting someone new. When a habit has slipped or we haven’t lived up to our expectations.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could learn to tame that voice? To put it back in it’s box. To not let it paralyse you. To still shine despite its warnings and protests.
You can do this, and the below steps will show you how.
1. Track what your Inner Critic is Saying and what Triggers it
The first step to overcoming your inner critic is awareness. Make a conscious effort to pay attention to what it is telling you. Keep track of what it says exactly (e.g., you are not enough, you are hopeless, you’re not good enough, etc)
What triggers it to speak up in the first place (e.g., spending time with a certain person, the mirror, going to the gym, standing on the scales, etc). The more aware you are of what triggers your inner critic and what it says once it is triggered, the more equipped you will be to overcome it in the future.
2. Hold your Inner Critic Accountable and Challenge it Gently
Once you aware of your inner critic, it is time to start challenging it. You see, that negative voice likes to throw ‘bombs’ and then run away and hide. Don’t let it do that anymore – begin to hold it accountable. You can use the following strategies to do this:
- Question whether it’s accusations or insults are actually true. What evidence is there to support it’s claims? What evidence is there to support that the claims are actually false or are a myth?
- Make a conscious effort to treat yourself with compassion and love. Ask yourself, what would I say to my inner critic right now if I loved myself more? What would I do in this situation if I was my best and most confident self?
- Thank your inner critic for its warnings and advice, but then take a loving step forward. When you hear that negative voice, thank it for it’s contribution, for it’s warnings and advice. Acknowledge that you’ve heard it’s side of the story. And then make a conscious effort to say “thank you, but I’ve got this now”, to let it go and to move forward from a place of compassion and love.
- Focus on taking one positive little (or big) step forward. Kindly ask yourself – “what is one thing that I can do right now, that will show myself compassion and love, and take apositive step forward?” This will help you ensure that the voice doesn’t paralyse you, and that despite it’s accusations, you are taking a little step forward.
3. Address the triggers you’ve Identified
Once you are aware of what triggers your negative voice, you can put in place strategies to avoid or manage those triggers more effectively. For example, if you know that spending time with a certain person causes your inner critic to go into overdrive.
It might be time to manage that relationship differently, put in place boundaries, or start spending more time with uplifting and supportive people who make you feel good about yourself.
4. Identify and use your Personal Psychological Resources
Your Personal Psychological Resources (PPRs) are the inner strengths or ‘mental’ resources that you use to achieve your goals or to overcome difficult periods in your life. They are the ‘tools’ that you store in your ‘internal toolkit’ to draw upon during times of need.
Some ways of identifying your PPRs include reflecting on:
- What are your best traits and qualities? What do others say are your best traits and qualities?
- How have you previously got through difficult periods in your life? What inner strengths or resources did you draw on to get through these times?
- When you have had a difficult experience or conversation, what are some of the constructive ways that you dealt with it? What inner strengths or skills did you use to do this?
- What have you achieved in your life so far? What inner strengths and traits did you draw upon to make these achievements?
When you know what our PPRs are, you can consciously draw upon them and use them to your advantage.
5. Remember it takes Practice
One of the most important things to do when you are attempting to silence that negative voice is to remember that it takes practice. The more aware of the negative voice you are and the more you practice putting it in its place and moving forward, the easier it will become to not let it paralyse you in the future.
6. Ask for Help
The final step to learning to overcome your inner critic is to not be afraid to seek help. Sometimes it can be extremely valuable to have an external person help hold your hand through the process of discovering your inner confidence.
This might be an uplifting and supportive loved one, a role model or mentor of some sort, or even a relevant professional like a psychologist, counselor, or life coach. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but an indicator of courage and strength.