This blog shares 4 steps to manage your inner critic. Who, you may ask? Your inner critic is that nagging, negative, or judgmental voice in your head. It may produce thoughts or beliefs that make you feel sad, frustrated, distressed, or more.
The negative thoughts that come from your inner critic may be repetitive, or follow along a similar pattern. It may come up in similar situations, such as in social settings, during work or school activities, or when you’re by yourself.
It can be difficult to separate these thoughts and beliefs from the actual truths about ourselves. It’s easier to accept this negativity and agree with it, rather than stand up against it and think differently. However, you have the ability to incorporate more positive self-talk, and stand up to your inner critic!
The four steps include: 1) Recognize themes or patterns of what it says to you. 2) Picture what it looks like. 3) Give it a name. 4) Find ways to take away meaning or significance from it. From there, you can take the power away from it and give it back to yourself.
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4 Steps to Manage Your Inner Critic: Recognize themes or patterns of what it says to you
You may have an inner critic that focuses on certain things more than others. There may be issues that stand out to you already, such as social anxiety, imposter syndrome, or unresolved trauma. Among much more, both you and your inner critic are well aware of your struggles.
Recognize similarities between negative thoughts and beliefs coming up for you. They may vary in terms of what they’re saying, but have a similar message. For example, you may struggle with believing in yourself. You hear, “I’m hopeless” and “I’m never good enough.”
Essentially, when anything negative or criticizing enters into your thought process, take a moment to reflect on where it may have come from. First, it’s your inner critic trying to convince you that those thoughts or beliefs are true. Second, a situation may have happened (or is anticipated to happen), that is causing you to experience these thoughts.
From there, you’re able to successfully identify these negative thoughts or feelings in the moment, and shut them down. Recognizing themes or patterns of negative self talk is a great first goal for individual therapy. Make sure to read our blog on 3 Steps to Reverse Negative Self-Talk.
4 Steps to Manage Your Inner Critic: Create a description for what your inner critic looks like
When you can try to imagine your inner critic, it may help in separating that voice from who you truly are. Although it may sound silly, you can imagine your inner critic as anything other than yourself.
Maybe your inner critic is a gross-looking creature or monster. It could also be the villain or disliked character from a show, book, or movie. When growing up, you may have had someone instill these negative beliefs on you, such as a toxic family member, a mean teacher, or someone else.
Or, a random person/being that you design yourself. Regardless of what your inner critic looks, try to envision them as something other than yourself.
Associate the negative thought or belief with it. You notice some similar or predictable thoughts coming up for you, and then you envision your inner critic standing next to them and speaking them to you. Maybe they have an accent, or a nagging voice. Now that you have envisioned your inner critic, move onto the next step.
4 Steps to Manage Your Inner Critic: Give your inner critic a name
Giving your inner critic a name also helps you separate this being from who you truly are. You may want to assign it a name that sounds funny to you, or a name you cannot take seriously. This could be something made up, or what you already know. It could also just be a general label.
So now, when your inner critic is trying to speak to you, you envision it as a being, and can identify it as being your inner critic. Let’s say, for example, you pictured your inner critic to be some kind of snooty-looking creature, with its arms crossed and nose up in the air.
You decided to name your inner critic “The Judge”. All it does is watch your every move and point out little flaws. It may make things seem like a much bigger deal than they truly are.
Or, any other regular name will do. Maybe you want to call it Carl. Upon a negative thought, you’d think to yourself, “Oh, that’s just Carl trying to get on my nerves”. (No offense if a Carl is reading this).
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4 Steps to Manage Your Inner Critic: Find ways to take away meaning or significance from it
When we can take away meaning or significance from our inner critic, we take power away. We don’t feel as influenced by negative thoughts or beliefs. We simply view and accept them as passing through, but we don’t need to give them attention.
It’s true that negative thoughts and beliefs will continue to come and go for us. Whether they be randomly, or as we encounter new experiences and situations through life. When we stick to our ability to identify the inner critic, we can more easily and quickly cope.
Now that you’ve identified patterns or themes, envisioned your inner critic, and gave it a name, it’s time to take meaning and significance away from it. In what ways can you imagine this inner critic being just a good old fashioned hater? That is just praying for your downfall?
Maybe you’ll shrug the thought or belief off as just being your inner critic. You’d think, “Yeah yeah, whatever, that’s not true”, or “There goes the Judge again, trying to hurt my feelings”. Acknowledging that you are stronger than that, and can stand up for yourself, will help you face your inner critic.
At the end of the day, it can be difficult having an inner critic watching and judging your every move. By seeking out mental health support, while simultaneously supporting yourself, you can take the power away from your inner critic.
In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you. Another great blog to read is ours on if you need Therapy or Medication to address your issues, as well as information on Therapy: Where to Start.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either.
Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free consultation on how you or a loved one can get started today!
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide trauma therapy, teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.