The inner critic is an internal voice that’s the source of much of our negative self-talk.
For many women, the inner critic sounds parrots false, harmful societal norms and beliefs or repeats painful criticisms they’ve received in the past.
Negative self-talk can really do a number on our confidence and self-esteem.
Because the voice comes from inside our heads, we tend to believe it without thinking. That can lead you to distrust your own abilities.
Learning how to hear the inner critic without believing it or being discouraged by it can help you feel happier and more confident.
Below, we list four ways to help you calm your inner critic and take the power out of negative self-talk.
1. Identify it
The inner critic often sneaks under the radar, throwing in digs when you least expect it.
Learning to identify its voice can be incredibly helpful for putting the brakes on any harm it might cause. You may also start to notice that the critic may be persistent, but often repeats the same stories over and over.
The next time you’re doing something that draws negative self-talk, pause and listen: What is it saying? Have you heard that thought before or one similar to it? Does it sound like yourself or someone else?
Being able to recognize the critical voice or thought can help you separate the voice or thought from you.
It can be particularly helpful to remember you are a person experiencing thoughts and feelings that arise spontaneously.
Your thoughts and feelings aren’t you—and they aren’t necessarily true.
Meditation is a great tool for developing this type of awareness.
If you’re new to meditation, try this simple body awareness exercise.
Find a safe, quiet spot where you can sit comfortably. Allow your eyes to close if that feels good to you, focusing your attention inside your body. Beginning with your toes, notice how they feel.
Now, slowly scan your attention from your toes up to your feet, then ankles, shins, calves and knees keeping your focus on feeling your body. If other thoughts come in, notice them, but allow them to come and go without judgement. Continue until you reach the top of your head.
If you’re short on time or find it difficult to keep your attention focused, you can do this in short sessions or listen to a guided meditation.
Over time, mindfulness can help you see thoughts and feelings as they arise while tuning into and appreciating your body.
Just as importantly, this practice helps you train your mind to allow thoughts to come and go without judging or latching onto them.
3. Surround yourself with positivity
Positive people and language help silence the inner critic, balancing out internal negativity with more accurate thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Filling your day with uplifting people can help keep negative thoughts at bay. When you can, choose companions that are compassionate, encouraging, kind, patient, upbeat and fun-loving.
Craft affirmations to fill your mind with positive thoughts that counter your inner criticism. This will teach you to count on yourself and help when you can’t be around positive people.
If you struggle with something like body image, create affirmations that promote a more accurate mindset like, “My body is capable and strong.” Or, “I thank my body for carrying me through another day.”
It’s a good idea to keep your spoken language positive as well. Negative self-talk and speech often mirror and reinforce one another.
As best you can, avoid saying negative things about yourself or others that feed into or flow from negativity. Instead, reframe those thoughts into positive, more accurate ones that give lots of grace to yourself and others.
4. Keep practicing
If your inner critic has been running the show behind the curtain, it may take a while before you’re able to recognize and change the script. Don’t give up!
The habits you have now took years to form… it will take time to reform them. Be kind and compassionate with yourself when you fall into old habits or negative patterns, and congratulate yourself when you notice and let them go.
Over time, as you learn to speak to yourself with all the love and kindness you deserve, your efforts will pay off with higher confidence and self-esteem.
Tell us… Do you have an inner critic? How do you manage negative self-talk in your life?