5 Ways to Manage (& Even Make Friends With) Your Inner Critic.

We all have it: that grating voice in our head that's obsessed with tearing us down. It's like nails on a chalkboard with its incessant loop of negative feedback: you're not good enough, it's all going to fall apart, no one will ever love you, there's never enough money, and on and on. 

There's a lot of advice out there telling you to drop kick this fearful voice and shut that shit down. But the truth is: what we resist, persists. The more we try to struggle away from something, the harder it tries to sink its fingernails into us.

We can't ever get rid of fear completely; it's a natural, evolutionary response and we need it to a certain extent. But we can learn to understand our fear and manage our response to it so that we can reclaim control and get back on track with creating a life we love.

I spent a lot of time being ruled by my fears. It stopped me from going after my dreams and living the life I wanted. It takes time to reprogram your responses to your inner critic but I'm going to share 5 strategies you can start implementing today to begin making those positive shifts.

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Recalibrate How You View This Voice

When that nasty self-talk rears its ugly head, start to recognize it for what it is: a voice of concern. Fear is an evolutionary response to keep us safe. When we perceive danger, we turn into flight or fight mode and our bodies prepare to get us through this life situation.

That's what your inner critic is trying to do. The problem is, we no longer have to worry about saber toothed tigers chasing us down andyet our inner critic wants to treat every single fear if it's equally catastrophic.

Plus, it’s a rubbish communicator. It’s like your friend who, when she hears you’re moving across the world, instantly launches into a diatribe of all the reasons why you shouldn’t: “How will you find a job? Are you going to make any friends? What if you run out of money? You could get sick and there will be no one there to take care of you and you’d DIE!"

Your friend has your best interests at heart but ultimately she’s projecting all of her fears and insecurities onto you. Your inner critic is too. When you begin recognizing this, it helps to detach from the negativity because you’ll see that it’s not true, but it also isn’t out to get you.

 

Say Thank You But Stop the Conversation

T. Harv Ecker has a great response for when your inner critic starts nattering on about something that's so not helpful: "Cancel, cancel. Thank you for sharing."  

The problem with fearful thoughts is that it's so easy to get sucked in by them. It starts out fairly small; one niggly thing that worms its way into our head and all of a sudden we're in a downward spiral. One very specific anxiety leads to feeling like our world is crashing down around us. Adrenaline is surging through our bodies, our stomach is churning, and things feel hopeless. 

But when we stop this pattern at the outset, we regain control of our thoughts and we can take them to a more empowering place. This mantra is like a big "abort" button and then we can thank our body for trying to keep us safe before moving on to something more productive.

 

Take an Inventory of Your Negative Self-Talk & Get to the Root of It

For most of us, fear is a lifestyle. Even when things look great from the outside, there’s usually a feedback loop of negative thoughts circling over and over in our minds. 

Ask yourself: what does your inner critic say to your? What fears do these thoughts stem from?

Start with a massive brain dump of all of the negative thoughts, all of the "shoulds" or "shouldn'ts," and all of the inner judgment that you catch yourself saying over the course of a few days. Then start to look for the common threads linking them all together.

For most of us, if work at it, we can narrow these down to 3-5 key fears. Things like, “I’m not good enough,” “There’s never enough money,” or “No one will ever love me.”

Can you identify where these fears came from? Was there a time in your life when something happened that led you to form these fearful beliefs?

Most of us avoid looking at our fears because we just want them to go away. But as we talked about before, this is never going to work. When we take a get to the root of the fearful thoughts our inner critic is spewing, we realize they’re not at all rooted in the present. They're simply an old feedback loop that we haven't taken control of changing yet, so there’s no point getting dragged down by them.

 

Choose a New Thought

Once you’ve identified what your fears are, you can begin to reprogram your thoughts by intentionally choosing new ones.

Take a lot at the fears you listed and ask yourself, “What would I rather believe instead?”

Then, whenever your inner critic pipes up you’re armed with a new thought to supplant it, rather than getting dragged into drama and obsessive thinking. You can press the ABORT button ("Cancel. Cancel. Thank you for sharing.") and mindfully take your thoughts towards your new belief.

The problem is, if you don’t believe this new thought yet, your inner critic is going to have even more ammo to tear your down. It can easily call “Bullshit!” That’s why it’s important to build progressive language into these thoughts. Preface them with something like, “I’m committed to believing that…” or “I’m learning to believe that…” This keeps your new beliefs at the forefront of your mind in a way that’s honest.

 

Respond As You Would to a Child

When you know that your inner critic isn’t trying to hurt you, you can see the voice for what it is: the voice of fear that probably developed in you when you were very young. How would you react if you were faced with this younger version of yourself? Would you tell her to “Pipe down!” or would you say something like, “It’s okay, sweetie. I know that you’re scared and I appreciate that you’re trying to protect me. Thank you so much. But I promise, everything is okay. You have nothing to worry about.”

 

The things we tell ourselves are critically important because our thoughts shape our realities. So if we respond to our inner critic with compassion and kindness, we can begin to lessen the impact of our fears, rather than feeding them.

You'll find that some of these strategies really resonate with you, while others just sound a little silly. I encourage you to experiment with all of them as they flow nicely, one into the next. Some might end up being more effective for you than others. Play around with the wording you use to find what feels good for you.

Get the Freebies!

Get to know your inner critic intimately & reclaim your life! Click below to download the inner critic cheat sheet + workbook.