Who is the inner critic?
The critic, the nag, the bully, the judge. Many people have an internal voice that criticises them. The inner critic might tell someone that they are not good enough, that they have ‘failed’, that they are unattractive or undermine achievements and progress. Some people’s inner critics might comment most during relationship struggles or during working hours. Some inner voices start their attacks with ‘You should…’ and focus on unrelenting high standards, some focus on inducing shame while others highlight weaknesses.
Challenging your inner critic
Inner critics can be managed, and their impact reduced using a number of different strategies. If your inner critic is impacting on your wellbeing, try the following strategies:
Identify and label your inner critic: when you hear the inner critic, label it as such. Acknowledge it as separate to you and not based on reality. Some people find it helpful to name their inner critic.
Be kind: if you find yourself listening to your inner voice, try asking yourself what you would say to a friend or loved one in the same position. It’s unlikely you would see the same level of criticism as fair or acceptable. Try being as kind and compassionate to yourself as you would be a friend or loved one.
Reflect on vulnerabilities: your inner critic may be covering up an emotion or vulnerability. Reflect on what it is you’re really afraid of and create a plan to address it. For example, if your inner critic tells you that you are ‘useless’ in your relationship, perhaps you are scared of losing your partner. You might decide to address this by talking with them or seeking couples therapy.
Learn from set-backs: experiencing set-backs is a normal part of life. Try to embrace a growth mindset and see set-backs as proof that you are moving towards your goals.
Don’t compare: social comparison, especially on social media is food for the inner critic! Remember that social media is not a real reflection of people’s lives.
Accept compliments: take compliments at face value. Don’t let your inner critic question the other person’s motive.
Talk back: your inner critic is likely to be disrespectful, so talk back to it! Try saying ‘So what’, ‘Who cares’ or ‘Now, you know that just isn’t true!’ right back to it.
Remember everyone has an inner critic who appears occasionally, however, if your inner critic is permanently around and affecting your wellbeing then it may be helpful to seek professional support. To find out more about inner critic issues contact Dr Julie Hannan on 07530 854530 or at www.morency.co.uk