February 16, 2024

How to befriend your inner critic?

What do you feel when you think about your inner critic? You know, that voice at the back of your head that judges your every move and makes you feel bad about yourself. The voice that tells you that you’re never enough and tells you to give up on your dreams and settle for less. Anger, frustration, maybe sadness?

But what if, instead of trying to get rid of your inner critic, you tried to make friends with it?

Befriending your inner critic is a process. It involves compassion and curiosity in exploring its motivation, understanding its role and, ultimately, accepting your inner critic for who it is. It also involves learning to listen to it without fear and looking for hidden messages underneath seemingly harsh judgements.

Why befriend your inner critic?

You might resent or even hate that inner voice. You wish it was gone or was never there in the first place. You’re tired of it, you’re angry and frustrated and yet you can’t seem to silence it. It may feel counterintuitive, but inviting your inner critic into your life instead of fighting it can help you reduce stress and anxiety. When you're constantly trying to silence that voice and you’re not successful at it, it can erode yourself-esteem and take a toll on your mental health. You’re tense, frustrated, or sad and a lot of your energy goes into fighting this losing battle. Making peace with your inner critic can help you relax and accept this voice simply as one of many parts of you.

Understanding your inner critic can also help you to learn more about yourself. Your inner critic is usually trying to protect you from getting hurt. By listening to this voice, you can find out more about your fears and insecurities. Enhanced self-awareness allows you to address the sensitive areas, by yourself or with the help of a professional, and to boost your self-confidence. Eventually, as your resilience increases, you can ask the inner critic to take a step back and let go a little its protective role.

How to make friends with your inner critic?

Here are 5 steps towards making friends with your inner critic:

1. Identify your inner critic.

Notice when  the critical voice comes up. In what situations does it become louder?  What does it sound like? Does it sound like someone from your environment, maybe a family member or a friend? What things does it say to you?

2. Acknowledge your inner critic. 

The more you try to ignore the voice, the louder is becomes.  When your inner critic shows up, acknowledge its presence. Saying something like a "Ok, I hear you, inner critic "  reduces the tension and it allows you to see the inner critic as a valid part of you, one of many others.

3. Be curious and listen. 

Instead of tensing up, trying to get rid of it or becoming angry at the critic, take some time to listen to this voice. Stay open minded, hold off judgement     and observe the thoughts that come up.

4. Ask your inner critic questions. 

What does it need? What is it afraid of? Is it trying to protect you from  something? What might happen if you don’t listen to it? Understanding what     your inner critic can help you see beyond the surface level comments and to develop compassion for it.

5. Set boundaries. 

Accepting your inner critic does not mean giving this voice more power. Let it know that you see  and acknowledge the good intention, but that you're the one in charge  and you don’t need this protection anymore.

Accepting all parts of you, including the ones you don’t necessarily like, can be challenging. It takes time, effort and self-compassion. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, it is possible and it can be a transformative experience.

Ready to get started? If you’d like some professional help along the way, schedule a free initial Zoom call and talk to Alicja.

*The information provided in this blog post is for general educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or mental health professional advice. If you are struggling with any of the issues described in this post, please seek appropriate professional help from a qualified professional.


Developing a Compassionate Relationship with Your Inner Critic: A Mindfulness-Based Approach by T. Brach

The Role of the Inner Critic in Shame and Self-Criticism by K. C. Tillman and M. A. Teasdale

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Negative Thoughts and Embracing Kindness by K. Neff

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