Making Peace with Your Inner Critic
Nov 03, 2014 05:54PM
By Victoria Shaw
The inner critic is that voice in your head whose job it is to make you feel bad about yourself. The inner critic likes to take the words of critical folks from your childhood, distort them and send them back to you in what sounds like your own voice. The inner critic has lots of tricks up its sleeve to keep you down, such as convincing you that you have to be perfect and nothing you do will ever be good enough.
Here are some tips for making peace with your inner critic:
Smoke it out. You know your inner critic is at work whenever your thoughts take an unkind turn. Catching it in the act is often all that is needed to restore the peace.
Shift your focus. The inner critic will do anything to get your attention. Whenever you notice its critical voice sneaking in, shift your attention to something more interesting and important.
Don’t fight back. Just like a child who misbehaves for attention, devoting your time and attention to arguing with your inner critic is apt to result in more of the same bad behavior. Instead, let the inner critic do its thing without engaging.
Identify your triggers. For many, there are certain situations and circumstances where the inner critic tends to be the most vocal. These often relate to areas of your lives in which you’ve had difficulties in the past. Knowing your triggers can help to break the cycle before the inner critic takes a firm hold. It can also signal areas for self-development and healing.
Practice affirmations. Affirmations—positive statements that you make about yourself—can be a great way to counter the repeated damaging effects of your inner critics. Affirmations work best when you allow ourselves to fully connect with their meaning and agree to disagree with any subtle input from our inner critic.
Avoid judgment. Ironically, you are often most apt to call others out on the very things that bother you most about yourself.
Show compassion. At its core, the inner critic is really just trying to help you. Though its methods may be misguided, that self-criticism often arises as an attempt to motivate you towards change and greater compassion for ourselves.
Seek Professional Support. If you find that your inner critic is ever-present or seriously interfering with your emotional well-being, it may be helpful to enlist the support of a licensed therapist or certified life coach.
Victoria Shaw, PhD, LPC, DCC, is a psychologist and licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Wilton, Fairfield and Westport. Visit VictoriaShawPsychotherapy.com or VictoriaShawIntuitive.com for more information. See ad, page 19.