How to keep tabs on your inner critic
If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ll be super familiar with the inner critic. (If you’d like a refresher or are new to the idea, watch this video, then this video). You’ll also know that when we tame the inner critic, anxiety and stress melt away. We have the courage to chase our biggest, boldest dreams. We attract awesome relationships into our life. We show up as our best self.
You may have noticed that taming the inner critic is not a one-time thing. It’s something we have to do each day, over and over again. The analogy I give my clients is that the inner critic is going to follow us everywhere we go for the rest of our life. When it walks into the room behind us, we have 2 options:
1. Look it square in the face and tell it to sit silently in the corner, or
2. We can ignore it and pretend it isn't there at all
The problem with ignoring the inner critic is that it sneaks up behind us and starts whispering it’s self-sabotaging limiting beliefs in our ear. ‘You’re not smart enough’, ‘You don’t have what it takes’, ‘Everyone is out to get you’ (and so on and so on) it says. These words start to influence how we behave and without realising, we get stuck playing it small and repeating the same old un-helpful patterns.
This is why awareness is key! As soon as we notice the inner critic, we can use it as a reminder to return to the present moment. We gently detach from it and send it into it’s corner. From there, we can take a deep breath and plug into our inner wisdom and inspiration.
But life gets in the way of this awareness. We get busy and stressed and we stop paying attention to our thoughts. We get triggered and before we realise it, we’re deep in a spiral of negativity and anxiety.
Today I want to give you some tools to help you keep tabs on the inner critic on a daily basis – the more you practice these tips, the more second-nature taming the inner critic will become…
Start your day with mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of watching your thoughts (ie. your inner critic) without judgment, and gently bringing your attention back to the present moment when it wanders. If you start your day with mindfulness, you’re priming yourself to catch the inner critic as soon as it starts getting in your ear and undermining your ease and flow. Apps like Calm and Headspace are a great place to start.
When we’re working on taming the inner critic, it’s paramount to remember that there’s no need to battle against it. Rather than pushing away or ignoring negative thoughts, get really curious about what your inner critic says when it’s triggered.
Judgment, blame, and self sabotage are all the work of the inner critic - as soon as we feel guilty about having these thoughts, we're in the cycle of beating ourselves up. Basically, we're exactly where the inner critic wants us! If we can allow ourselves to have these thoughts without getting caught up in the story or cycle of guilt, they simply float through our mind like a could in the sky, leaving without any negative consequences.
Next time your inner critic pipes up, remind yourself that it’s OK that you get triggered, and allow yourself to watch how your inner critic responds with curiosity. For example, if you notice your inner critic judging someone (I can’t believe she said that, that was so stupid’), don’t beat yourself up! Detach, and observe then allow the thought to gently leave your mind.
When we let our inner critic run it’s mouth inside our head, it can get away with saying all kinds of crazy things that we buy into without realizing. Writing down what your inner critic says is a fascinating exercise because it really sheds light on how absolutely ridiculous that voice can be. Notice how it connects things that are unrelated and tries to paralyze you with anxiety about the future or regret about the past.
Dedicate a notebook to this or even uses the notes section of your phone to jot down the thoughts of your inner critic throughout the day.
Get to know your triggers.
As you start to takes note of what your inner critic says to you, also notice what triggers it to start bombarding you with fear-based thoughts. Maybe your boss triggers your inner critic, or seeing a good looking woman has you feeling unattractive. Maybe your inner critic is triggered whenever you try to take time out to relax or treat yourself, filling your mind with all the things you 'should' be doing instead.
Maybe it gets stuck into you when you think about those big dreams of yours. When you know your triggers, you can be ready for the inner critic and meet it with that calm detachment. I say to my clients that the inner critic is like a crazy drunk person who yells at us in the street – at first it can be a shock and make us feel a bit crap but when we realize that it’s just saying the same old stuff again and again (and it really doesn’t have much of a clue!) we can detach from it easily.
Share what you've learned about the inner critic with your friends, partner, and family. Tell them how you’ve noticed it shows up for you and ask them about what their inner critics say. When the people you spend time with understand the inner critic they’ll be able to support you and keep you accountable for taming it moment-by-moment. Explain to them the times your inner critic has taken over and how you’re likely to act – for example, when your bestie asks about your love life and you start to get defensive, or when you snap at your partner after a stressful day.
Ask the people in your life to give you a gentle reminder that your inner critic is running the show whenever you're throwing yourself a pity party, playing the victim, or being critical and judgmental. And you can do the same for them, with love of course. By doing this, you're helping each other to show us as your best selves as much as possible - which is key to connected and high-vibe relationships.
Taming the inner critic isn't always easy, but it's always worth it.
Make sure you share this post with anyone in your life who could use a hand taming theirs!
P.S. If you'd love more support taming the inner critic, learning how to differentiate it from your intuition, and letting go of everything that's stopping you from living the life you crave, check out my online group program, Soul Sister sessions Online. You'll graduate with an overflowing toolkit to help you deal with everything the inner critic and life throws your way.
Registration for the next round opens on Sunday 11th September!