Is Your Inner Soundtrack a Critic?

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

We all experience the brunt of our inner critic from time to time. This critical inner voice is not beneficial to us. It not only makes feel inadequate, but it can actually stop us from pursuing our goals and becoming happier and more fulfilled.

Here are 5 steps to stop the inner critic from wreaking havoc with your self-esteem.

1. Identify your critic.

In order to handle your negative inner voice, you first need to realize that you have one.

You can begin to identify this critical voice by noticing thoughts that are defensive and critical in nature. These often start with, "I’m always.... ". (I'm always wrong, I'm always failing, I'm always messing everything up....). And also look for the classic, "It's all my fault."

Use a journal to write down negative, critical words you use against yourself. Writing down the phrases you use to talk to yourself will help you realize just how destructive they are.

A study on expressive writing published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that students who wrote down their negative thoughts before an exam had less depressive symptoms, compared with those students who wrote a random text.

2. Understand the nature of your inner critic.

Your inner critic doesn’t usually say true things about you. Its role is to hold onto your faults, or to something wrong that you’ve done in the past, and blame you for it.

It’s important to understand that your inner critic is not 'you'. You have instead internalised incorrect feedback you received growing up, such as from your parents or teachers who were too critical and demanding. Or perhaps it came from a recent unhealthy relationship.

3. Externalize your anger.

A study at the Lebanese American University, titled "The Role of Dependency and Self-Criticism", found that, "self-criticism was associated with high levels of both state and trait anger, low anger control, and high levels of anger towards the self and others."

One theory here is that the anger we felt at the parents who criticised us as children needs to be expressed in a healthy and productive way. This does not mean picking fights with your parents in the here or now.

But it might look like creating an image in your mind of your parent yelling at you in the past, and allowing yourself to get angry about that. You might want to again journal, or find a private, safe place to say out loud all the things you wish you could have said then.

4. Use positive imagery.

Practice bringing into your mind your greatest qualities, the successes you had at school or at work, or even the memory of people who make you feel safe and secure.

It is also helpful to hang out with kind and supportive people who will aid your recovery from your inner critic. If you can’t do that, at least try to distance yourself from people who are overly critical of you.

5. Stand up to your inner critic.

Another method of dealing with your negative inner voice is to recognize how it has contributed to the self-sabotaging behaviours in your life and relationships. You can now decide that you have had enough.

If you wrote a letter to your inner critic, what would you say?

As an adult you have plenty of choices. Choices you didn’t have as a child who depended on their caretakers for love and survival. Remember these choices whenever you suspect the presence of the inner critic.

Need help dealing with your inner critic? Find a therapist now at a price you can afford and start finding your inner strength instead.

Marlena Eva Bontas writes in various niches but her love is mental health. Her blog helps people improve their relationship with money and live more fulfilling lives. .

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