If you think your inner critic might be getting slightly out of control. Here are a few simple steps to help get it back in check again…
Observe your thoughts
Become mindful of what you are saying to yourself. You can do this by simply taking a step back and taking the role of the quiet observer on your own thinking. From this neutral, non-judgemental perspective on your own shoulder just gently notice how often you are feeding yourself negative suggestions – you might be surprised about just how often that occurs.
Notice mood shifts
If you find it difficult to catch your thoughts at first, pay close attention to shifts in your mood. If you are feeling bad then chances are your inner critic is back in the driving seat. As soon as you notice a change in your mood, ask yourself, ‘What just went through my mind?’ As soon as you start identifying what limiting beliefs are holding you back, the sooner you can work on changing them.
Challenge your thinking
It’s easy when we are feeling a little lost and vulnerable to start believing all the bad hype that we say to ourselves but it’s important to challenge our inner critic. The left cerebral hemisphere in the brain is actually prone to fabricating verbal narratives. So, just because we repeatedly say something to ourselves does not mean it is correct – especially if the thought is critical or fearful.
Ask yourself is that really true?
If in doubt, take a step back from your inner critic’s negative commentary and ask yourself “Is what I’m saying really true?” Instead of assuming absolute truth, why not gather evidence to assess its validity and then approach your thoughts like an impartial jury would evaluate evidence. If you still think the thought is true ask yourself “How do I respond when I believe that thought?” and “What am I concerned would happen if I didn’t believe that?” Finally a good question to ask is “Who would I be without the thought?”
Show yourself some compassion
Ask yourself would I talk to a friend in that way? If the answer is no, then make the decision now that you won’t continue to speak to yourself in your own head like that either. You would do well to remind yourself of how valuable and loveable you genuinely are. You deserve as much kindness and respect as the next person. So how about showing yourself a little more warmth and compassion starting today?
Give your inner critic a silly name
Notice what that negative inner critic really sounds like, looks like and feels like. Perhaps it reminds you of an old authority figure, a parent or a bully. Give your inner critic a name – preferably a silly one! It’s hard to take that voice of doom seriously when you call it something that makes you smile! This in turn, helps break the emotional hold that any critical self-talk may have over you and helps create a healthier response mechanism. Honestly, it works, give it a go!
Set the egg timer
Make a point of never allowing your inner critic to harp on for any length of time. Give it a time limit and once you have reached that point – say five minutes – make a conscious decision to change the tune. Although we can’t get rid of all our negative thoughts (we have thousands every day) we can say ‘STOP’ and encourage ourselves to return to a place of balance more quickly.
Try ‘possible thinking’ rather than ‘positive thinking’
Sometimes when you are feeling low and force yourself to say positive things, you can end up feeling worse because your internal lie detector goes off. So if positive thinking just seems a step too far – why not try “possible thinking” instead? This involves reaching for neutral, non-judgemental thoughts about the situation based on facts. So “I’m no good at this” becomes “I may have to work a little at this but I am making steady progress already.” Notice how much better this feels.
Turn down the volume
Imagine having the remote control to your inner critic and turning down any negative self-talk. Just turn the sound down or perhaps change the channel completely and allow yourself to listen to some nice commentary for a change. In fact, why not decide to start listening a little more to your inner wisdom instead and notice how much better you begin to feel as a result.