Talking Back to Your Inner Critic
Self Help

Talking Back to Your Inner Critic


Suraj worked harder day and night and left no stone unturned to get selected for MBBS, yet the results were not good. It made a huge impact on him and he dwelled in inner criticism. He started judging himself and indulged in negative self-talk, undermined his abilities and began to self-doubt. And finally accepted and declared himself as a ‘Failure’. In the course of life, we come across various situations which tend to put us in tight corners and we do everything we can to come out with flying colours. Yet, due to certain extraneous variables, sometimes we get defeated harshly and despite our rigorous efforts to stay positive, we often get involved in inner criticism.

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Defining Inner Critic

Inner criticism refers to the tendency to evaluate oneself and the efforts critically done by one via internal dialogue or thoughts. The pin-pointers of inner criticism often involve negative self-talk, analyzing oneself in a defeatist way, assessment of one’s actions in a harsh manner and often questioning one’s worth.

As per Good Therapy “Inner critic refers to an inner voice that judges, criticizes, or demeans a person whether or not the self-criticism is objectively justified. A highly active inner critic can take a toll on one’s emotional well-being and self-esteem“. Self-criticism may put an unbearable load on a person about his own identity by raising questions about self-worth, self image, self-esteem etc. It may also compel an individual to take extreme steps to prove himself or herself via fatal means.

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Your inner critic can be harsh, mean, and sarcastic and can put you in a complex and continuous circle of self-doubt. One may get extremely uncomfortable while dealing with it. The negative portrayal of the self, not being able to give oneself the due credit, feelings of worthlessness etc, can be instrumental when a person indulges in self-criticism.

What causes an inner critic

We are a part of that culture where criticism or guilt-induced comments are considered as motivating forces. One possible reason behind this could be a thinking that, one would be able to realize that their actions are not good enough and maybe they want to change to achieve their desired goal. The others in our lives try to act ‘helpful by making critical comments (negative punishment) to reinforce and control our behaviour.

According to Psych Central, “We can also use judgmental or controlling thoughts with ourselves as a way of coping with fear, shame, and the unknown. Over time, these comments (from both others and ourselves) internalize and become our “inner critic,” the persistent negative self-talk that keeps us stuck.“.

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This kind of communication is anxiety-provoking and shaming, that is, in contradiction to motivation. It compels a person to first avoid to reduce impending anxious feelings and stay safe. Avoidance includes procrastination, addictive behaviours ( drinking, smoking, overeating, grazing, continuously checking phone, binge-watching TV etc.) and sometimes avoiding the source of criticism or shame itself.

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Due to shamming questions, one may feel full of flaws and doesn’t deserve to be in a connection with others. As shame disconnects us from others and compels us to live alone. Thereby making it easier for a person to indulge in inner criticism by pondering upon thoughts concerning self-worth while being alone.

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Ways to talk back to your inner critic

  1. Listen to the voice: Addressing counterproductive behaviour in oneself and its nature is the best way to listen and to talk back to your inner critic. Being aware here refers to being logical and objective. Watch out for your insecurities as most of the negative self-talk stems from it. Take a pause, and when the voice gets louder, listen to it. Also, bear in mind your tone as your words matter. Indulge in self-talk in a kind and warmth-filled voice.
  2. Get Set Go: Most negative thoughts are baseless in nature. Criticizing yourself is not alright and neither is it healthy. Set small and smart goals and gradually move forward to achieve them. Be realistic in your approach. With the passage of time, your negative thoughts will be replaced with positive ones, thereby silencing your inner critic effectively.
  3. You are Unique: Every individual is unique in their own way and this is what sets them apart from others. Maintain your individuality as it is quite easy to compare ourselves with others. When we dwell in comparison, this shows we are somehow incapable of doing certain things by ourselves. You are unique and so is your set of skills.
  4. Show some Kindness: Ask yourself, would you treat someone the way you are treating yourself? if not, then change. Show some kindness towards yourself even when you do not feel like it. Be kind when you face failure as it indicates self-acceptance in self-love and empowers yourself with your kindness.
  5. Reframe your Thoughts: Go for the best out-of-waste idea, reframe your negative, baseless, thoughts into positive and healthy ones and eventually productive. Make use of positive affirmations and meditate to turn off those inner critical voices. Stop and take a break when it becomes too overwhelming, ask for help and relax, and let your mind relax and recharge.

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Celebrate your achievement even if the success is a minor one, celebrate and do not provide your inner critic with the opportunity to mock you. Remember you are awesome in your way and there is no one like you.

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