By Debra Chikazhe
“Nobody likes you”
“You are a loser”
“How did you ever become a parent”
“You are the worst wife that ever existed and he deserves better”
“You just got lucky; you don’t deserve that”
Do these inner messages sound familiar?
The Inner Critic is that inner voice that is referred to by many labels including self-saboteur, inner nitpicker or judge. We all possess an inner critical voice which more often than not can have an overpowering negative effect on us. Many of my clients come in distressed and wondering why they seem to struggle with quietening this critical self-talk. They often describe it as overpowering, exhausting and weighing heavily on the mood and self-worth. This negative self-talk often closely monitors us, amplifies our failures, judges us and often makes excuses or minimizes our successes. It does a great job of instilling self-doubt and consistently reinforces it with evidence that suits it best. It helps us overlook our positive attributes. This voice may tell us that we are ugly, losers, bad parents, stupid, unworthy, incompetent employees or inadequate. The inner critic helps foster anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, resentment and regrets.
Quietening the inner critic can be challenging. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself which can help jumpstart silencing your inner critic:
- Am I taking the time to identify and non-judgmentally notice these negative messages consuming me? Awareness of these negative thoughts is a crucial part to managing them.
- Am I challenging this critical voice on a regular basis when it invades me? Challenging the inner critic makes us aware of our negative cognitions.
- Am I being kind to myself when I am struggling? Self- compassion is crucial in helping quieten the inner critic.
The inner critic can have devastating effects on daily adaptive functioning. Working through silencing this voice can lead to a more positive, fulfilling life with great self-compassion. In my sessions, I focus on highlighting the above-mentioned questions coupled with humour, heart to heart conversations and tangible strategies to help empower my clients to quieten their inner critical voices.
I love sharing this video on self-compassion by Kristin Neff with my clients