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How to tame your inner critic

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

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We all have an inner critic, that voice in our head that tells us we're not good enough, that we'll never succeed, or that we're a failure. This voice can be incredibly damaging, leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. But the good news is that we can learn to tame our inner critic and overcome negative self-talk.

What does it look like to be struggling with your inner critic?

The inner critic can manifest in a variety of ways, and symptoms can vary from person to person. However, some common symptoms of an active inner critic include:

  • Low self-esteem: The inner critic often tells us we're not good enough or that we'll never succeed, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth.

  • Anxiety and depression: Negative self-talk can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, leading to anxiety and depression.

  • Procrastination: The inner critic can make us feel overwhelmed and inadequate, causing us to put things off or avoid them altogether.

  • Perfectionism: The inner critic often sets impossibly high standards for ourselves, leading to feelings of failure when we inevitably fall short.

  • Difficulty in making decisions: The inner critic can create self-doubt and indecision, making it hard to make decisions and move forward.

  • Difficulty in accepting compliments: Inner critic can make us believe that we're not good enough, so it's hard to accept compliments and positive feedback.

  • Difficulty in setting boundaries: The inner critic can make us feel guilty for saying "no" or setting boundaries, which can lead to burnout and resentment.

  • Difficulty in expressing oneself: The inner critic can make us doubt our own thoughts and ideas, making it hard to speak up or express ourselves.

It's important to note that not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can also vary. However, if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be a sign that your inner critic is active and that you may benefit from working on taming it.

First, it's important to recognize that the inner critic is not the same as our true self.

Our inner critic is often a reflection of past experiences, past traumas, or even societal expectations. By recognizing that the inner critic is not the "real" us, we can begin to separate ourselves from the negative thoughts and beliefs.

Next, try to become aware of when your inner critic is speaking. This can be difficult, as negative self-talk is often so ingrained that we don't even realize we're doing it. But by paying attention to our thoughts, we can start to identify patterns and triggers.

Once you're aware of your inner critic, try to reframe the negative thoughts. Instead of telling yourself "I can't do this," try saying "I can try my best and learn from any mistakes." Or instead of saying "I'm a failure," try saying "I made a mistake, but that doesn't define me as a person."

Another effective technique is to counter the negative self-talk with positive affirmations. This can be as simple as repeating a positive statement, such as "I am worthy and capable," whenever the inner critic starts to speak.

It's also important to practice self-compassion.

Be kind to yourself and treat yourself as you would a good friend. Negative self-talk can often stem from perfectionism and the belief that we have to be perfect in order to be worthy. But the truth is that no one is perfect, and self-compassion allows us to accept our flaws and mistakes.

Lastly, remember that taming the inner critic takes time and practice. It's not something that will happen overnight, but with consistent effort, you can learn to silence your inner critic and build a more positive and healthy inner dialogue.

Taming the inner critic is not easy, but it is possible. By recognizing the inner critic as a separate entity, reframing negative thoughts, practicing positive affirmations, self-compassion, and being patient with the process, you can overcome negative self-talk and build a more positive inner dialogue.

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