We all have inner critics who send us messages like: “You don’t deserve the good things in your life,” “You’re selfish,” or “You’re an imposter.” These thoughts are normal, but for some, they can become intrusive and overwhelming. When intrusive messages from our inner critics pile up, we may start to believe them. This mindset impacts our mood and self-esteem.
So how do we manage these thoughts differently? How can we connect with our inner critics instead of always being engaged in conflict with them?
Understanding Your Inner Critic Isn’t Always Bad
Avoiding battle with your inner critic can be difficult, but choosing to be compassionate and curious toward it allows you to gain insight into the larger picture. Approaching your inner critic with compassion means you disengage from conflict and seek to understand how your inner critic has attempted to aid in your self-preservation. Curiosity helps us gain perspective about why these thoughts occur and explore how our inner critic is trying to help us.
Questions to help you approach your inner critic with compassion and curiosity:
- How is my critic trying to help me?
- How is my critic protective?
- Where do these critical thoughts come from?
- How might these thoughts have helped me in the past?
- What purpose do these thoughts serve now?
- What wisdom does my inner critic have for me?
Be Mindful of How You Respond to Your Inner Critic
Being mindful of how you react when that inner voice starts whispering to you helps you learn from your inner critic. Be calm and nonjudgmental of yourself. Focus on recognizing when and how you need to take care of yourself.
For example, If you are overwhelmed or angry, you may need to take a step back and practice relaxation techniques to regulate your emotions. If you are feeling protective of your inner critic, perhaps you are interested in the wisdom it offers. If you are feeling avoidant of your inner critic, you may want to explore what the voice is saying that is causing you to stress and look for more positive ways to respond.
Practicing mindfulness and building awareness of our emotions leads to a better understanding of both ourselves and our inner critics.
Questions to help you be intentionally mindful and reflective about your reactions:
- How do I feel towards my inner critic?
- Do I avoid or depend on my inner critic? Maybe both?
- How can I use my inner critic as a guide?
- How can I view my inner critic more as a friend than as a foe?
- What does my response to my inner critic tell me about myself and what I need right now?
- How can I support myself as I explore my inner critic?
- How can I support my inner critic so that it can help me more effectively?
Be Patient and Consistent When Working with Your Inner Critic
Change is a process, and befriending your inner critic is a challenging practice that requires consistent effort over time. Patience is necessary as you explore and shift your deeply-rooted thought patterns because you are likely to experience a variety of emotions. Tune into what these emotional responses are telling you. You will learn new things about yourself and gain insight into formative experiences from your past that influenced your inner critic.
Approaching your inner critic with an intentionally compassionate and curious lens is healing, and befriending your inner critic will lead to reduced stress, increased self-esteem and more balance.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ammirati Counseling to ask and inquire about support services that you can receive to help with overcoming feelings of depression, loneliness, stress or anxiety.