Tips for Thought

Tips to Calm Your Inner Critic

What is the Inner Self-Critic?

The inner self-critic is a voice that guides us or provides feedback when we contemplate performing or after finishing a task. This self-critic may have an aggressive tone resembling an authoritarian or is more subtle, pushing us to facilitate change.

If you often have thoughts like, “I’m not good enough!” or “I should have done this instead of that,” you may have a judgmental inner critic.

Why Do We Have an Inner Critic?

The reason why we have this self-critic is that we subconsciously believe that it will motivate us to change. Much like how a strict parent provides critical observations to their child, this inner critic uses the same tactic to help us perform better.

Is it Useful?

However, experts believe that while the inner self-critic is helpful in short-term goals, it does have debilitating effects in the long run. Often, these critiques could lead to anxiety, depression, burnout, or a “perfectionist mindset” that refuses to accept any mistake, no matter how small.

When we leave this critic to fester and control our thoughts and feelings, it can wreak havoc on our self-image and self-esteem. To come to terms with this inner critic, we must learn how to practice self-compassion.

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is responding to our perceived failures in a supportive and understanding way. Similar to how we would react to our friends and family members when they have a difficult time, fail, or speak about what they don’t like about themselves—we talk to ourselves in a kind and patient way. Instead of brushing our mistakes under the rug, we use these errors as a learning curve to improve while giving us a moment to feel our emotions.

Why is Self-Compassion Important?

The way we talk to ourselves can affect our overall self-image. When we speak to ourselves like we are failures or constantly berate ourselves for our mistakes, we become less likely to be motivated to do better. Additionally, it can affect our relationships with others—making us unable to accept kindness, help, and even compliments.

How to Practice Self-Compassion?

Practicing self-compassion instead of self-criticism can create a series of changes for the better. If you are used to criticizing yourself instead of being compassionate, it can be hard to stop that habit overnight. Nevertheless, we can reverse it.

Here are some ways how to change that inner critic into an inner companion:

  1. Be mindful of your inner critic.

If you find yourself failing a task and immediately admonishing yourself as a “loser,” a” failure,” or a “good-for-nothing.” Stop and immediately correct yourself. While it may seem natural to beat yourself up after a perceived defeat, it will only make you feel worse and reduces your motivation to try again.

Try these healthy affirmations instead:

  • “Okay, I made a mistake. How do I learn from that?”
  • “I shouldn’t have done that. I’ll do better next time.”
  • “I’m not a failure. I just failed at a task. I can try again.”

When you shift your focus on your behavior instead of your identity (i.e., “I failed” instead of “I am a failure”—you become less of a critic and more of a person who is willing to try again.)

  1. Be honest with your feelings.

Failing sucks. That much is true. It’s never pleasant to come to terms with the reality that no matter how hard you try, you can never reach a certain standard that you (or your parents) set. Identifying these feelings when you feel them helps you focus on feeling better next instead of ruminating or obsessively thinking of your perceived failures.

For example, suppose you studied hard for a critical exam. As the results become posted on the bulletin board, you suddenly realize that you’re the only one who didn’t pass the exam. The feeling of shame and hurt encompasses you, but instead of allowing yourself to be hurt, you admonish yourself by calling yourself a failure with no hopes for the future.

While it may seem reasonable at the moment to self-flagellate, it only makes things worse.

Instead, when you feel moments of perceived failure. Allow yourself the opportunity to feel shame, sadness, and guilt. Sit with it for a while, but don’t meditate on it. Stand up and use this as an opportunity to do better. Your failure can make or break you—don’t let it be the latter.

  1. Talk to your inner critic.

Many of us have an inner critic because we believe that it will help us change for the better. While it has good intentions, its methods and ways of “tough love” are more harmful than helpful.

When you find your inner critic rearing its harsh words, stop and talk to them gently. Explore why this voice believes their criticisms as helpful and watch it quiet down.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your inner voice says, “I want you to stop eating so much, you fat pig.” Ask your voice why it needs to call you names if it just wants you to eat less. Don’t you think it’s unfair to call you names when you already feel bad about it? Once you start to reason with this voice, it eventually quiets down.

“Yes, I must eat less, but I don’t think it’s fair to call me names. I know you’re worried about me because I’ve struggled with my weight for a while, but I think talking to me with more kindness is much more effective than this harsh way you’re doing.”

For this step, it may be more beneficial to ask for help from a therapist who can guide you with this exercise.

Some Final Thoughts:

We all have this inner critic that wants to motivate us to do better. However, harsh words and thoughts can have long-lasting effects on our self-esteem and image—making us less likely to react rationally. If you feel like you have a very harsh critic, try to take some time to talk to them honestly and perhaps seek help from a counselor if you need guided assistance. You deserve kindness and compassion.

More Articles

Like? Share it with your friends

Tips for Thoughts

Copyright 2022 | All Rights Reserved.

Tips for Thoughts

Copyright 2022 | All Rights Reserved.