3 Helpful Ways To Silence Your Inner Critic

“You’ll never be able to finish that paper on time.”

“Why do you think you can be successful these days? The world isn’t going to let you, even if you were good enough to draw attention to your work.”

“Come on, let’s be real. We both know you’re going to eat that entire pack of cookies.”

ARGH!

That’s what I have to say to thoughts like those. Just a straight up, guttural expression of frustration. It’s important to me to give my honest thoughts here, so I’ll say that those thoughts above are only worthy of a response like that one.

They’re self-destructive, demoralizing, and a waste of our time.

Unfortunately, they’re also extremely tenacious thoughts. Sticky thoughts, I like to call them. They like to work their way into your head and set up camp. They’re the squatters of the mind and are also the sort that insist they have a right to stay inside you, rent-free and forever.

What makes them even more painful and annoying is they’re not even thoughts that are forced on you by someone else. Those thoughts are the workings of your Inner Critic, a pernicious, greedy, terrible thing that lives inside all of us.

It’s the thing that saps away your motivation to feel confident about the work you’re doing. The thing that makes you doubt if you’ll ever be able to lose that weight you want to get rid of before summer. The thing that takes an otherwise normal project and turns it into a task of epic proportions.

We can all be our own worst critics. It’s just a fact of life. Self-doubt comes easy, but is hard to remove from yourself. However, it’s not impossible. Sure, it’s a task that takes continued effort whenever you feel the doubt creeping back in, but it’s always worth it when the alternative is feeling crappy about yourself.

Let’s talk about three helpful ways to help battle back that self-doubt and silence that awful inner critic of ours.

1. Listen to yourself (and then do the opposite)

While we might be fighting against giving into the seductive pessimism of our inner critic, that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to understand why we feel the way we do. In fact, I would say that listening to our inner critic is one of the more important things we can do to help silence the dang thing.

Contradictory, isn’t it? There’s some sense in what I’m suggesting here, though.

If all we’re trying to do is ignore the voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough, then we’re never going to understand why that voice is talking to us in the first place.

What is it about our effort to succeed in our businesses that leads us to feel afraid of pursuing our goals? What’s happened in our lives that make us think our efforts to lose some weight is this Herculean task we’ll never be able to accomplish? Why do we doubt our obvious awesomeness when we’re staring a deadline in the face?

The answers to those questions aren’t just going to magically come to us. At least, it’s very unlikely that’ll ever happen. If it does for you, then color me a little jealous.

We need to work to understand why we feel the way we do, and that means listening to the voice in our heads. We should work to consider our thoughts and address them in the moment.

“You’ll never be able to finish that paper on time.”

Why won’t I be able to do that? What’s holding me back? My teacher was pretty tough on the paper I turned in last week, but it seemed like they were in a bad mood. Since last week, though, I’ve studied really hard and I feel that I know this new material backward and forward. I got this thing covered.

“Come on, let’s be real. We both know you’re going to eat that entire pack of cookies.”

Okay, I ate that whole pack of cookies last week. That wasn’t great, I’ll admit. I was feeling crummy, but I’m feeling pretty good this week. Maybe instead of eating those cookies, I can make a bowl of almonds, raisins, and cheese cubes for a snack. That’ll fill me up. Plus, it’ll still taste pretty sweet!

“Why do you think you can be successful these days? The world isn’t going to let you, even if you were good enough to draw attention to your work.”

Sure, times are tough for everyone. Not everybody can afford to pay me for my work, but the numbers are actually in my favor. There are so many people in the world. I only need to convince a couple hundred out of billions to pay for my services? I can do this. I just need to work on finding the people who get me.

Understanding where our critical thoughts are coming from, what caused them, is a key step in helping us minimize their power. Find out the reason for your feelings and then work to do the opposite of them. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

If you’d like another exercise to help you get to the bottom of why you’re down on yourself, then be sure to read this helpful post:

2. Find something that will make you feel productive

An effective method of telling our inner critics to take a hike could be, well, going to take a hike. Or cleaning the house. Or cooking up one of your favorite meals.

The thing about that voice in our heads is that not only can it worm its way into us, but it can take over our entire world. It can grow and grow until all we can think about is how we’re not good enough to accomplish anything.

In this particular case, it’s a good thing us humans can be pretty distractible creatures.

When we force our minds away from the nagging negativity (the nagativity?) we can feel and direct our focus on something else, then the odds are good that we’re going to take the wind out of our critic’s sails. Who has the time to constantly worry about the bad things that can happen to us when we’re busy drooling over this delicious new spaghetti aglio e olio recipe that we’re cooking up?

(You should definitely try this recipe, too, friend. I made it with my special lady friend recently and it was amazing.)

Negative thoughts can be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them take over everything. Remember, we’re in control of our lives and minds. Stepping away from the activity that’s causing us to feel negative and doing something else, especially if that something else is in any way productive, is a good tactic.

Not only will we feel better, we’re also likely to get things done.

3. Daily affirmations are powerful and worthwhile

I want you to find yourself a mirror, look yourself deep in the eyes, and tell yourself that you’re worth it. Tell yourself that you can do good work. Tell yourself that you kick some serious ass, damn it!

Because you do, you serious ass-kicker.

Now, after you’ve finished doing that, I want you to do it again the next day.

And then again the next day.

And then again and again and again.

I want you to create a lasting habit of telling yourself positive and motivating things while you’re looking at yourself. Yes, it may feel funny to talk right at yourself in the mirror, especially when the stuff you’re saying can feel like it’s straight out of a corny self-help book, but I promise you it’s helpful in silencing that inner critic.

It’s all too easy to be critical of ourselves. It’s easy to say that our work isn’t our best or that we’re okay but we’re not great or anything. It’s very easy to be negative.

It can be hard to tell ourselves positive things. We’re all so focused on trying to do better, better, BETTER all the time that we can forget just how much it can mean to hear someone say that we’re already pretty dang great.

Positivity is what we always need more of in our lives. A daily affirmation is a wonderful way of giving ourselves more of that beneficial positivity.

So choose your favorite affirmation and repeat after me to that wonderful face of yours in the mirror:

  • I share my wonderful talent with the entire world by [insert your amazing talent here].

These are a few affirmations to get you started. I encourage you to choose some and speak one to yourself every single day. It’ll begin to feel less awkward the more you do it. The more you say those words the more you’ll find yourself really believing in them.

You’re worth all the positivity in the world.

Our inner critics are jerks. They’re such jerks! They like to hang around and make our lives more difficult than they should ever be.

However, they’re not some sort of invincible titans that can’t ever be diminished and conquered. Sure, they’re tough and they don’t go down without a fight, but they can be beaten. We just need to put in the work that’s needed to remind ourselves of how great we truly are.

Believing in ourselves when it seems like the world is against us can be a tough problem to overcome. However, I can guarantee you that working to love and believe in ourselves is and always will be worth it.

So let’s walk up to our inner critics, look them straight in the eye, and then kick them right out of our lives. We don’t have time for any of their nonsense.

Love yourself, cats.

Always chasing that cozy feeling of being snuggled under a heap of warm blankets in a cold room. Also trying to find cats to pet 😻

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store