Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
5 Ways To Quiet Your Inner Critic
Published Jun 15th, 2020 & updated on Apr 22nd, 2021
You’re jolted awake to the sound of your alarm. After a night of racing thoughts, you feel anything but rested. You drag yourself out of bed, thinking how you should have gotten up earlier so you could have gotten a workout in. What a disappointment. Oh, there’s that nasty voice again, your inner critic.
You make it to the bathroom, and see your ‘I woke up like this’ face staring you back in the mirror. Ugh, your eyebrows. And, a new pimple? Gross…You wonder if it’s the new moisturizer you bought but it can’t be, you spent $68 on it.
The shower feels good, like the warm water can almost wash away the ‘tired’ from your body.
Feeling restored, you saunter to your closet and reach for your favourite jeans. You shuffle into them and your eyes fall to that area of your waist spilling over. If only you had gotten that workout in.
The day gets longer and the negative self-talk keeps coming.
“I’m not good enough to get this promotion.”
“I’m always the one to ruin things.”
“I’m not a great parent/daughter/friend/…”
The little voice that has been filling your head with these messages is your inner critic. Believe it or not, it doesn’t appear overnight. It’s a product of allll the different pressures we experienced growing up and the way we internalized those messages.
Let’s DiveThru what the experts say about it.
In a conversation with Psych Central, MFT Ali Miller, said this type of harsh self-criticism “often leads to stress, burnout, depression, anxiety, and a perpetual feeling of never being ‘good enough,’ which wreaks havoc on our self-esteem and enjoyment of life.”
In this TEDx Talk on Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Rick Hanson talks about negativity bias. In his words, “our brain is very good at learning from bad experiences but bad at learning from good ones.” This was crucial for our survival as humans at one point! And because of it, our brains are still hardwired this way.
5 Ways To Quiet Your Internal Critic
As many of us have experienced firsthand, amplifying our negative voice is destructive. Which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t it?
You tell yourself you’re not good enough and in questioning your ability, you hesitate.
You take a half leap instead of a full leap. Or maybe you don’t leap at all.
Let’s get you leaping. Taming that negative voice inside your head will take some practice but these are some ways you can start. Do them all, or pick one! Whatever sits well with you at this moment in time.
1. Bring Awareness To Your Thoughts
Observe the conversation going on in your head and ask yourself these questions.
What strengths are you dismissing?
What achievements are you downplaying?
Is it possible that fear or anger may be driving your current thoughts?
The best way we know (literally tried and tested) how to explore these feelings is through journaling.
Our founder, Sophie Gray, created DiveThru because of her own experience with mental health challenges — if you have a minute, you can read about her journey here to see that she really seriously actually gets it.
We’re big fans of journaling therapy. It can help you express emotions and unfurl their intensity, explore your thoughts and make decisions, and work through interpersonal conflicts that naturally crop up in life.
Guided journaling will help you dive thru what you go thru. Our app is free to download! You’ll find 1000+ journaling exercises to help you bring awareness to your thoughts.
2. Try Not To Hit Re-Play
Throughout our day, we will usually encounter a handful of good moments, a few neutral moments and maybe one bad moment.
Which one were you replaying in your head as you got ready for bed last night?
Although it’s important to use bad moments for learning, dwelling on them for too long will make that internal critic stronger. It will feed it all the negative energy it needs to keep trolling you with “why aren’t you good enough?”
3. Pause And Register The Good Things People See In You
This is evidence. Like actual proof that the harsh voice inside your head is being too harsh.
When others notice the kindness in you, the capability you have, or the effort you put into things, allow yourself to accept it. Remember that feeling and internalize it because my sweet, sweet human, you deserve it.
4. Pick Out The Exaggerations By Writing Them Down
Dr. Rick Hanson says “argue against your inner critic and truly intend to win.”
Write down what your inner critic is saying. Now write down 3 accurate rebuttals.
Now think back on the extreme “always.” We just proved that exaggeration wrong with 3 very true statements.
Give it a try yourself. Pick one negative thought your internal critic is currently bellowing at you and really personalize those answers like you mean it.
5. Would You Dare Say That To Your Friend?
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that we are so much meaner to ourselves than we are to our friends. Really let that sink in.
We judge ourselves so harshly and it’s partly because it’s quietly done behind the closed doors of our own headspace.
But would you dare say that out loud and aim it at your best friend? Can you imagine telling them they’re not good enough?? Or telling them they’re not strong enough??
The answer is no, because we want them to feel loved and supported and empowered to tackle whatever comes their way. Give yourself the same positive space of healing and watch your internal critic run out of things to say.
These 5 strategies will redirect your inner dialogue in a way that weaves positive experiences into the fabric of your brain.
When you’re ready, grab a pen + paper and head to the app store to download DiveThru. We’ll help you dive thru what you’re going thru.