Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
4 Ways To Try Silencing Your Inner Critic
Published Sep 2nd, 2020 & updated on Apr 15th, 2021
She’s always there in the back of your mind — like those kids in middle school saying “Don’t mess up!” every time you’re about to get up to bat. Not cool. Silencing your inner critic is not usually this impossible…but now it’s starting to get a little out of hand. She’s weaselled her way into evvveeryyy situation, and no matter what you do, you can’t stop overthinking. Won’t she just be quiet already??
Ok. That’s it. Your inner critic needs to take a hike. For GOOD.
Journaling is one of the best ways to silence your inner critic. To help you get started, we’ve put together an easy process that will allow you to take control of your thoughts and wave goodbye to your internal critic once and for all.
1. Express Yourself
Grab your pen and (lots of) paper and get ready to write. Step one is to express what you’re feeling by freewriting. There are no rules or restrictions. Write whatever comes to your mind; don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or even coherence.
Just write whatever you’re feeling in the current moment until you run out of words. Our in-house mental health professional Natalie Asayag confirms that writing about intrusive thoughts helps “unload” them from your mind.
2. Imagine The Future Self You Want To Be
This next step is important in separating where you are and where you want to be.
Where you are might be a place filled with flying thoughts and harsh criticism.
Where you want to be might be calm, confident, and in control.
Once you take the time and energy to acknowledge that these are two separate places, it’ll be easier to make the switch. Use this prompt from CreateWriteNow to get started:
“Right now, I am ________. I want to be ________.”
This prompt is simple, yet powerful, and leaves room for you to elaborate as you wish.
Sorry, got distracted. Back to work.
3. Separate And Categorize Your Thoughts
Your internal critic may be peppering you with thoughts, but are they even true? Separating involves taking the thoughts of your internal critic and splitting them into categories. We recommend starting simple with the categories “true/not true” and “realistic/not realistic”.
These categories allow you to take a step back and really examine the nature of each thought. If you want to explore your thoughts even further, feel free to create new categories, too. By taking an objective approach, you’ll be able to organize your thoughts and realize that your internal critic really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
4. Reframe The Conversation
Last, but certainly not least, is reframing. Reframing allows you to take those negative, untrue, unrealistic thoughts and turn them into something positive and productive. Turning your thoughts into concrete, hand-written positive affirmations will take the last of the power away from your internal critic and give it back to you.
Now that you know the steps, let’s make you an expert with an actual example.
Putting It All Together
Meet Alicia. She’s 28, she’s kind, and she’s brilliant. She recently graduated from postsecondary (YAY!) and landed her first job with a tech company (DOUBLE YAY!). Alicia took on her first project with ambition and her first presentation is only one day away.
But she can’t escape her inner critic, the harsh voice shouting she’s not good enough. Looking around her, she sees her peers’ achievements and wow. How the f**k is she gonna measure up to them tomorrow.
She pulls out her journal and writes about how she’s feeling in the current moment. Everything pours out — the presentation anxiety, how those thoughts are affecting her day, and how, honestly, she’s so f**king sick of feeling like crap.
Her pen leaves dents in the paper.
She takes a deep breath and thinks about the prompt she’s supposed to use.
Right now, I am anxious about my presentation because speaking in front of my co-workers intimidates me.
I want to be calm so that I can trust myself and deliver the presentation to the best of my ability.
Another breath, and holy crap, her heart rate is actually slowing down. She moves on to the next step and categorizes the thoughts.
Well sh*t, there’s no actual evidence she’s going to fail. Wasn’t there one more step? Oh yeah, reframing.
“I’ve given many successful presentations before.”
And with one more breath, her thoughts settle and her heart rests. Alicia knows she will do the best she possibly can.
Having this journaling process at the ready will do wonders. You can easily adapt it to whatever situation you’re going through.
And, if it works so well that you’re looking for more journaling exercises, look no further than our DiveThru app! We’ve got 1000+ free exercises that’ll keep you journaling all day long.
With these tools at your disposal, your internal critic won’t stand a chance. Sure, she might talk the talk, but she definitely won’t walk the walk anymore.