How to Tame Your Inner Critic

We all have a voice inside our heads, and for many of us it can take the form of an inner critic. 

Even if we’re not aware of it, this inner voice has so much power to impact the way we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and our lives. It can crush our self-esteem, plague us with self-doubt and cause us much stress and anxiety.

The good news is, we can unwind all that inner tension, struggle and suffering using a simple, evidence-based tool that has the power to profoundly change things for the better and improve your mental strength.

Hit play on the podcast, or keep reading, to find out how to tame your inner critic through developing greater self-compassion. A life-changing skill for anyone and a key component of mental strength.

The transformative power of self-compassion

When we train in self-compassion it can be deeply transforming. Here’s an analogy for this…

Imagine living in a house with someone who was constantly following you around the home criticising, berating and judging you. You can imagine the energy of that house becoming quite tense, uneasy and demoralising.  

Well, it has been said that our true home is our mind because although we can leave our houses, we carry our minds with us wherever we go. As much as we may try to escape it, numb it, or struggle with it, the mind is always with us. 

Many of us are living with constant feelings of unworthiness, stress and inner struggle because our inner voice is harsh and mean. But if we train in bringing a friendly attitude towards ourselves, we can change our inner world into a place of ease, rest and kindness. 

To continue the analogy, imagine your mind could become like a house with a warm crackling fire and a loving and supportive friend to live with. Someone who speaks to you with respect and kindness, who is always there for you when you are down. This home is a place where you can relax, gain strength and feel love.

So how can we change things?

How to tame your inner critic using self-compassion

The way that we often speak inside our own heads can have a harsh or cold tone to it, especially if something has gone wrong or we made a mistake. 

So I invite you to try practising self-compassion in the way you speak to yourself this week. Start deliberately practising self-talk that sounds warm, friendly and kind. Let your inner voice take on the tone of a supportive friend or coach.

If you catch the inner voice sounding harsh, take a pause. Maybe take a deep breath and then change the tone back to warm and kind. Say kind and encouraging things to yourself like, “Good on you for giving that a go honey.” Or, “That was a very kind/honest/good thing you did mate.”, or “Hey, you really gave that your best shot.”

If you don’t find terms of endearment like ‘honey’ or ‘mate’ useful, then of course just drop them. You can experiment with this and find the way that feels right for you.

When you’re having a hard time, try using the same tone of voice that you would use to speak to a loved one who is hurting. Say soothing words to yourself. Things like, “It’s ok, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You’re human. ” Or, “Take it easy darling.”, or “Oh this is a tricky moment. May I be kind to myself in this tough time.” It might feel awkward at first to speak to yourself this way but if you think about it, it’s even stranger to be verbally abusive or mean to yourself. You’d probably never talk to a friend like that. 

So this week’s mental strength practice is to  focus on befriending yourself instead of berating yourself and see what the effects of the practice are for you – how they affect your state of mind, your quality of life and your ability to be more effective and engaged in your life.

The link between self-compassion and success

After working with many people over the years I know that a common concern is that if you are kinder to yourself, and you stop being harsh and cracking the whip on yourself, you are going to lose your edge, get soft or stop trying to improve. So let’s address this by looking at the research.

Research compellingly shows that there is a strong correlation between the skill of self-compassion and success.  Recently I did a podcast about the link between self-compassion and success (June 20, 2023). I explain (and share the research) there, that even though that voice in your head may try to convince you that you need to be nasty to yourself, there really is no evidence to support that. In fact, there is a huge body of research that shows that the opposite is true. People who are kind to themselves achieve goals more effectively, have more grit, are more resilient in the face of challenges and bounce back faster from adversity.

Through cultivating this self-compassion we not only feel more at ease and calm, but also more motivation and vitality within ourselves. And of course, when you are kind to yourself that will ripple out and be a gift to everyone you know and everyone you meet.

Your mental strength invitation this week

So that’s the invitation for your mental strength practice for the week ahead. Every time you hear that voice of the inner critic pipe up, take a deep breath and then change the tone back to warm and kind. Say kind and encouraging things to yourself. In this way, with repeated practice, you will tame the inner critic and lay down new neural pathways for lasting inner peace and confidence.

If you’re finding these practices beneficial to your life, and you’re ready to take your mental strength to the next level join me in Headstrong. It’s my 8-week intensive mental strength program offering the best of everything I’ve learned in over two decades of mental strength training and teaching. It’s designed to get rapid transformational results and arm you with powerful tools and skills that will last a lifetime.

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