Have you spent a lot of time thinking that it’s only you who has these horrible, terrible, critical thoughts that whizz round in your head. Yes? Me too? If you want to find out more about this critical voice or thoughts that you have and think of some ways to make it a little less loud please do carry on reading.
So how can we spot the voice of that inner critic?
It’s super critical and harsh
If you find yourself thinking something that you simply would never dream of saying to someone else then this could be the voice of the inner critic. We are often our own worst critics we speak to ourselves more harshly and in a way that we would not speak to our friends and family. You would not talk to anyone how the inner critic talks to you. So why do we think it’s perfectly acceptable to speak to ourselves in this way?
It might be repetitive, you notice that this frequently shows up for you and you are aware that you are thinking it.
It’s very attacking, you may hear things like “You’re not good enough”, “You’ll get in trouble” : “Nothing will get done today” “You’re a crappy person” “ you won’t achieve your goals” “no one likes you” “You can’t do what you want to do” “there’s something wrong with you”
It’s main aim is to protect us
It has surprised me over the years to learn that the main aim of the inner critic is actually to protect us. Often it feels like it tries to stop us from moving outside our comfort zone. You might notice that when you are pushing yourself, moving out that comfort zone, trying something new, that the voice becomes stronger and more dominant. These can all be threatening experiences and it’s way easier for us to stay in our comfort zone. So ask yourself, is that really where you want to be?
The minds main job is to keep us safe and save us from pain, we can’t stop our mind doing what it does. Then add in to it the negative experiences that we might have had throughout our lives.
Notice it, tune in to it.
This first thing we can do is simply notice. Notice that this inner critical voice is there. Increase our wareness of how the voice sounds, it’s tone, the themes that are discussed. We can then recognise it when it arises. And when we do notice it, name it. You might want to give it a real name and develop a whole persona around it. Or just name it as the inner critic.
It’s 1 voice within us, there are many other voices and there is space for them all.
Controversial but I don’t think it helps to challenge the voice.
It was once thought that challenging this critical voice would help to change it. My experience however in working with clients has been that challenging the thoughts spoken by the inner critic has not necessarily helped, often people will tell me they can challenge it but it doesn’t help them change the way they think about it, they still feel bad about themselves.
To challenge it often turns into a full out debate and could lead to an argument that actually no one wins from!! It can feel like a spiral that just keeps moving downwards. Why waste your energy on this!
We can often try to move away from difficult thoughts to make the horrible stuff less but time and time again, the horrible stuff still keeps on coming up.
A word of warning, the inner critic will never go away!
This inner critic will always be part of us because as we said before, it’s there to protect us and keep us safe. However it’s often too sensitive and tries to protect us from things that we don’t need protecting from. It can stop us from taking those leaps, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. And really who wants to live their life like that? Have a look at my website to find out more about the work I do Click here