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5 Tips To Silence Your Inner Critic
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5 Tips to Silence Your Inner Critic

Many people find it quite difficult to cope with criticism from friends, family or work colleagues, even when it's constructive criticism. The judgements and opinions of others can be extremely hurtful and in some circumstances really knock people’s self-confidence. However, equally as damaging can be the criticism that some people heap on themselves. Their inner critic is often far harsher, dishing out a constant stream of negative self-talk that is far worse than anything said by loved ones or colleagues, damaging their self-esteem.

Some people remain blissfully unaware of how damaging their negative self-talk is. There are some that have very high standards and that there is nothing wrong in giving themselves a hard time if they don’t reach them. There are others who believe that they are just a failure at anything they attempt and are made utterly miserable by their perceived inadequacies.

If you are one of those people with a harsh and destructive inner critic it’s important that you take steps to silence it.

1. Be honest with yourself: Spend some time thinking about when you’re inner critic starts talking. Think about the context and the reasons for why you do it. Identifying when, why and how often you use negative self-talk is the first stage in starting to overcome it. Make a conscious effort to listen to your thoughts and how often they are negative ones.

2. Stop making excuses: Excuses are negative self-talk. If you constantly criticise yourself for something like lack of time for your failure to do something, you need to stop making excuses and examine why you haven’t the time. Is it that you really don’t have the time or that you don’t want to do it? Whatever the circumstances, be honest with yourself, because if you’re not, you only add stress to yourself as that inner critic chatters away.

3. Flip a switch: When your inner critic starts on the negative self talk you want to flip an inner switch and turn those thoughts into positive ones and stop bashing your self-esteem. It’s as simple as substituting “ I can’t do this – it’s too difficult” for “ I can do this – I’m ready to meet this challenge”. It may seem a bit artificial at first, but the more you do it, the more familiar it will become. Remember you have control over what you think.

4. Use visual prompts: Visual prompts can be extremely useful for reducing negative self-talk and reminding yourself of the things that are great about yourself and the achievements you have had. Different things work for different people. Some people like affirmations, some quotes, some a storyboard of things they have done, others a list of their achievements. You should choose what works for you, but the visual prompts should be placed somewhere where you can see them (eg besides a mirror) and should be used as a constant reminder to silence your inner critic.

5. Be positive for a day: Okay, being positive for a day doesn’t sound very much, but if you are constantly telling yourself that you could have done better, it’s really quite difficult. Make a promise to yourself that you will only think of positive things about yourself and others for one whole day and see how you get on. You may be surprised at how difficult it is. If you don’t immediately succeed try again on another day. You need to practice being positive.

Summary: Silencing your inner critic may prove to be a challenge on occasion, but negative self-talk is a bad habit that you can break with practice. As shown above there are different techniques that you can use to overcome it. The less you use it the stronger your self-esteem will be and the less stress you will feel. If you can’t control it yourself then counselling or coaching are options that could help.

What techniques do you use to silence your inner critic and negative self-talk?

Street Talk

I needed this tonight Beverley. Thank you for the reminder. My husband is often telling me to quit putting myself down and reminding me of positive qualities I have. I must admit I come by this demeanour honestly. My family is good at it. My last article was very well received and I got such wonderful supportive comments... and ironically I feel it's rocked my confidence! It's a terrific learning experience though. I will read your article again when I need a pep talk!

  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Heather - glad you found it useful. It can definitely be a challenge at times to keep that inner crtiic at bay.

  about 1 decade ago

absolutely true, the inner critic takes up so much of our time and mental strength that we find ourselves feeling like we have accomplished nothing. it sure takes practice but by catching myself daily on what my thoughts actually are i am able to create the ones i really want, thanks.

  about 1 decade ago

Thanks C4men for taking the time to comment. I agree with you it takes practice to monitor one's own thoughts and realise that you have a choice about what you think.

  about 1 decade ago

These tips are very helpful! I'm going to try them.

  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Miriam. Glad you found them useful.

  about 1 decade ago

I am very aware of the destructiveness of the inner critic. I was putting myself down every time I made a mistake, and I did not get very much done. The inner critic is often worse than the criticism we receive from other people. Replacing those harsh thoughts with positive thoughts is helpful, and sometimes I need to do it over and over again. I find myself becoming more accepting and liking myself more as a result of positive thinking.

  about 1 decade ago

Hi Sarah - Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with you that the inner critic can be harsher - it's something I struggle with on an almost daily basis - so I have to work really hard to quieten it.

  about 1 decade ago
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