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How To Silence Your Inner Critic

Inner Critic?  Are you there?  I can’t hear you?  Must be a bad connection…  CLICK!

I never read movie reviews. Sometimes this means I make mistakes and see things like “Just Go With It”. (I know, I know.) Still, I like to make up my own mind and not have someone tell me whether or not something is worthy of my time. Also, it’s easy to avoid reading movie reviews. I just turn the page or click on another tab. But it’s not as easy to navigate away from the Inner Critic. That’s the part of ourselves that’s made up of all the negative message we got from our teachers, parents, peers and other authority figures we met growing up. The Inner Critic has a direct line into our heart because it was made by many of the people we cared about most. But the good news is, when this oversized, outdated bully dials us up, we can learn to hang up the phone.

The first thing we have to learn is when the Inner Critic is calling. She usually rings in when we’re struggling with an issue or doing something new and unfamiliar. What’s difficult in your life today? Dating? Starting a new career? Moving to a different city? Whatever it is, jot it down. Give it some attention and see how it makes you feel. Next, keep a little notebook with you at all times and write down what you hear every time you’re dealing with this struggle. This might be a little tough at first- we’re not used to listening to the voices behind our thoughts. But the more you pay attention, the more you’ll hear your Inner Critic.

After doing this for a while and learning what kind of messages you’re getting, it’s helpful to see if you can remember when you’ve heard those words before.  Like that mean girl in your High-School gym class, the Inner Critic loves to repeat bad news. So, if your Inner Critic is telling you, “You’ll fail at starting a new business just like you failed math in 8th grade”, it’s time to see who shamed you about that in the first place. This is a great way of learning that the cruel self-talk that the Inner Critic encourages, is based on lies and false equivalents. Your battles with Algebra have nothing to do with your dream of being a restaurateur. But the Inner Critic doesn’t want you to know that. Soon however, your new tools of listening and writing will lead you to the sources of the Inner Critic’s power. Surprise, you’ve got caller ID.

Now that you’ve got a good handle on when the Inner Critic is calling and what it’s saying, you can begin to interrupt the connection.  When you find yourself vulnerable and the negative inner-chatter is ramping up, you’ll know it. Replace those voices with simple truths. For example, if your Inner Critic likes to harass you about your appearance, it’s possible to stop it in its tracks by listing some of the qualities you love most about you. Don’t try and replace “You’re fat” with “I’m a supermodel!”- it won’t work. The trick is to tell ourselves things we already believe.  Try, “I have a beautiful smile” or “I’m doing a great job losing weight every week.” These things are accessible, immediate and best of all- true.

The world wants you to give the best of who you are. The world needs your unique magic! The Inner Critic however, would like to see you tied up all day on the mental telephone with her. Sorry, but that bill is just too expensive. It’s time to hang up- and change your number.

Sophie Chiche, catalyst, visionary, curator of characters andmom is the founder of lifebyme.com, a global community gathered around the question, “What is meaningful to you?” She has master’s degrees in business, journalism and psychology. www.lifebyme.com

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  • http://undyingsuccess.com Jussi

    You found again an interesting subject, thank you for your writing. Anyway, it’s not easy to live with the Inner Critic even if you cut off the connection, he is still there!

  • http://www.Mazzastick.com Justin | Mazzastick

    Hi Sophie,
    The darn inner-critic likes to bring us into it’s own reality of negativity and pessimism. I learned to use my feelings as a way of telling me what kind of thoughts that I am having.

    If I am doing something new and I feel tight and heavy that means that my inner-critic is doing it’s work on me.

    I do my best to re-direct my thoughts to more empowering ones.

  • http://www.adaringadventure.com/blog/ Tim Brownson

    The inner critic isn’t trying to hold you back, it isn’t trying to harm you and it isn’t trying to stress you out.

    It’s trying to help in the only way it knows how and more importantly it’s YOU just as much as the brave, enthusiastic and confident parts are also you. It’s merely the scared the frightened and the worried side of your personality and it always, always, always, has a positive intent (usually to save you from disappointment).

    You can deny your inner critic, and for a minority of people that can work (although usually only for short periods of time), but most better people are better hugging it, talking to it, accepting it is a valid part of them and then looking for better options that all parts can agree on.

  • http://fibrowarrior.us Shannon | Fibromyalgia Warrior

    Awesome read, Sophie! It is amazing how much the inner critic is tied to an earlier part of our lives and how loud they can get if we don’t pay attention.

    Love your recommendation on writing things down. I’ve thought about carrying a small notepad with me but just for those creative business ideas that pop into my mind. I’ve never thought about using it to pinpoint – and silence – the inner critic. Brilliant!

    Thank you once again for your great inspiration!

  • http://hanofharmony.com The Vizier

    Hi Sophie,

    I always read movie reviews before I watch a movie because I want to know what happens and decide if it is worth a watch. Like you, I believe strongly in making up my own mind, but I like to listen to a variety of opinions before I form my own conclusions. With regards to movies, it is usually to know what happens before hand because I love to know haha!

    That said, it is difficult to silence our inner critic. I like how you point out the need to identify the source of our inner criticism. By shedding light on the source we can see it for what it is and how irrelevant it is to our situation. Nothing destroys lies faster than comparing it with facts.

    Apart from that I like to focus on the solutions and do all I can to tackle the challenge at hand. So if my inner critic is saying I have a flabby tummy, I will watch my diet and hit the gym and basically do something about it. When I do all that is humanly possible to resolve an issue, there is nothing left for my inner critic to criticize so that takes care of it.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  • http://goldenmastermind.com/ Doug the Success Coach

    My inner critic is always with me. Sometimes I let it win, not because I believe to what it says but because criticism sometimes help in changing a person for good. It’s not that we are embracing negativity here, it is important to weigh things – positive and negative. Your inner critic may act like your enemy but it can be a friend that will make you strong.

  • http://www.clintcora.com Clint Cora

    It’s so easy to beat up on ourselves even before we get started with things. Although it’s good to thoroughly analyze things before making big decisions, this inner critic is unfortunately usually negative. Therefore, we have to balance this out by having another inner voice that reminds us of our past successes to offset the negativity.

  • http://actionmaxims.com Allan Gregoire

    Ahh, the inner critic, the thief of future accomplishment. Yes, it’s important to silence it but just remember, your past does not define you. I bring up the past because that’s usually the frame of reference the inner critic likes to use. Learn to make the distinction between negative self talk versus your inner intuitive voice and keep your eyes on the road ahead.

  • http://www.peppervirtualassistant.com/ Agatha

    I have existed for twenty-eight years already and it’s quite difficult to manage your inner critic. It is a battle everyday out there and tough too. You will be able to overcome this when you decide to follow your mind and not what your other conscience tells you to do.

  • Al Pittampalli

    Good post, Sophie. The inner critic is non-stop. But it’s only trying to protect us. Part of maturity is realizing that we are powerful, and we can choose to ignore the voice, because we know better. But it’s certainly never easy!

  • http://gmail.com hitanjan

    i am a cricketer,i want to be an excellent batsman.i am an average type batsman,if i say to my innerself that i m an excellent batsman will it right?

  • http://www.planetnaveen.com Naveen Kulkarni

    Interesting article.
    Silence is powerful.

    Latest on my blog
    Why Discovering Your True Passion is So important in Life

  • Anushka

    Hi Sophie,
    I loved your article. I have been feeling extremely depressed over the past couple of months. Today, I stumbled across your page and it really set me thinking. It’s true, I have been giving undue importance to my Inner Critic. I am going to stop moping and start taking positive steps and the first is to hang up on my Inner Critic’s call. Thank you Sophie

  • http://ThePowerToLive.com Connie Lee

    Hi, Sophie,

    I experienced this while learning tai chi, recently. I wrote about it on my blog http://thepowertolive.com/2062/does-your-self-talk-playlist-need-editing/

    It’s humbling how quickly we can fall into our old, self-defeating messages, if we aren’t careful.

    Thanks for your reminder to monitor our thoughts, so we can positively influence our future.

    Connie

  • http://www.21tiger.com/ebooks Michael A. Robson

    Yeah, I needed this badly ;)

  • Mic

    You are dead on about the timing of the inner critics appearance. Just when you feel like you can do anything, here he/she comes with their drama! This is a great post and I plan to track those IC calls today so that I can start hanging up on them in the future!

    Mike

  • David

    Hummm… I’m just wondering why is the inner critic a “she”! LOL