Inner critical voice refers to an inner voice that acts as a judge or criticizes or demeans a person. Just as you have a side that motivates you and cheers you up making you feel happy or the side that keeps you goal-directed and brings positivity, there is this other side which does an entirely opposite job of bringing in the negativity by saying things that will make you feel miserable and make you question yourself.
Like, imagine its a good morning, you stand in front of a mirror, and an inner critical voice says you look ugly, and your mood drops down so bad that the morning is not good to you anymore. What inner critical voice does is it takes a toll on your self-esteem and emotional well being. This inner critic gives rise to a though, which results in actions that we most of the time regret later. To avoid falling into situations where your inner critical voice takes charge of your action, we have brought together five steps you can follow when your inner critical voice starts stepping in.
Steps to Fight your Inner Critical Voice
Step 1: Identification
The very first step in fighting inner critical voice is to identify one. Humans tend to have self-talk, but distinguishing between the positives and critics is an essential step. For this, you will have to stay alert for a certain number of months, weeks, or even a few days and observe your self talk. The ones which sound judgemental or critical or straightforwardly demeaning are your inner critics. Not just that but also observe how frequently they arise and if it is situational or conditional.
If your mood gets changed, try to understand the trigger point in your inner critical voice. A trigger point can be an emotion or a word or a specific phrase. Understanding that it is your critical inner voice wins the half battle as when you can identify a critical inner voice, you are getting yourself ready to face some negativity. This way, the impact lowers. All you have to say to yourself when you identify a critical inner voice is, “It is not me but my critical inner voice.”
Step 2: Avoid Interaction
You must have heard that when someone bothers you by continuously speaking, the best way to make that person stop is by not responding at all. A word for a word con lead to an unnecessary conversation. That is precisely what you have to do. Now that you have learned to identify an inner critic, you have to start avoiding it by not responding to anything it says. Look at it as a bus passing by. You look at it, and it might even stop in front of you, but you don’t have to get inside it. Just let it pass.
The point here is that you should not lose yourself in your inner critic. And if by chance you happen not to ignore it well, tell yourself that you’ll cater to that matter later. By using this “not now, later” technique, you have to keep on pushing it to some other time. We need not say that that other time would hardly come.
Step 3: Remember to pause
It often happens that your inner critic goes on speaking to you until there comes the point when you take action towards it. For example, your inner critic is filling things like your partner doesn’t like you anymore or has lost interest just because your partner got up to receive a calling while you two were watching a movie. Your actions to these inner critical voices can be just switching off everything or being upset with your partner.
Now that we see this situation from the outside, we know that these actions aren’t going to lead you to any good, but understanding this when you are in the middle of such a situation is a difficult task. What you have to do is now that you know it is your critical inner voice and you have tried avoiding any interaction, you have to pause. This pause is significant between a critical voice and an action.
An action can vary from taking a decision to physically doing something under the influence of your critical inner voice. This pause will help you calm down and think better. So, in the above situation, if you take a break by just sitting there and continuing to do what you were doing that is watching the movie, you will see that there are no wrong actions taken.
Step 4: Distract yourself
Distracting yourself from your critical inner voice can include taking a pleasant 20 mins to walk with your earphones on to sitting down to take a few deep breaths. If there are any other engaging activities that you can do at that moment, you can do those like watering plants or preparing a meal or working on a new consignment. You have to indulge in something that completely moves your focus from t your critical inner voice. The right time to do this is when your inner critic has just started speaking to you; you need to shut it before it even starts properly. This way, you are not leaving any chance of getting absorbed in its content.
Step 5: Bring in the change
This is more like a concluding step. You have identified your critical inner voice, and you know you have to avoid interacting with it, pause before taking any action, and know you have to distract yourself from all that negativity. In this step, you need to do a bit of self-analysis and understand what the trigger point for you was. For some people, it is the tone of voice, and for some, it is a specific term.
The reason why it is a trigger point for you is that it starts your inner critics in a split second without you even noticing it. It has links with your childhood, the way you have been brought up, and all other such experiences. So for someone who has been treated as needy or annoying when young, seeing a person getting even a bit irritated can trigger his inner critical voices. Similarly, a trigger point can be different for different people.
Besides all that, what you must also remember is that your reactions are not a result of just what happens around you but also what you are telling yourself. If you go on telling yourself you are a loser, no wonder you will start believing in it. It works the other way round as well. You need to start telling yourself good things about yourself.
Whenever you notice a trigger point bring the change in thoughts yourself by saying, “this is not me. It is my critical inner voice. And I am a lot better than whatever it is telling”. It is just an example. Your positive comeback depends on your situation. Stand up to your inner critic by meeting any of its critics or feeling that it stirs with self-compassion.
Know that by doing all this, you are not pretending that you are perfect, or you are refusing to acknowledge your flaws or shortcomings. It is not what this is about. You are just separating yourself from who you really are and who you wish to be from a cruel and demeaning voice that tells you all this. Accepting does not have to mean lowering your self-esteem. Acceptance is necessary for growth, but that happens only if you learn to take it positively. Knowing your flaws to help yourself get better instead of self-shaming is what your goal has to be.
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“You have been criticising yourself for years and it has not worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens”. -Louise Hay
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