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3 Ways to Be Kinder to Your Inner Critic

We all have an inner critic. Their voice can be loud and negative. But the truth is, we’re never going to completely silence them. Let's get that unhelpful expectation out of the way! But the good news is that we can learn to live with it so that it's not so loud or negative in our head. And that starts with learning how to treat yourself with kindness. 

Here are my top three tips to help learning to speak to that inner critic with kindness:

  1. Realise Your Thoughts Are Not Facts

Our thoughts are not facts. Rather, thoughts are events that pop up in our minds. How we respond to those events matters. Do we see every event as truth, or can we learn to process them before accepting them?

Here are three simple questions you can ask yourself to help with that process:

  1. Is this thought 100% accurate? Learn to see the thought in different ways than how it presents itself.
  2. What would things be like if you didn’t pay attention to this thought? Imagine a future without this thought – how would it effect your relationships, energy levels and motivation?
  3. Can you add the word ‘yet’ to the thought? For example, ‘I can’t do this’ becomes “I can’t do this yet’.

  1. Befriend Your Inner Voice

Now that we’ve understood that what our inner critic is saying is not necessarily the truth, we can learn to respond to it better.

We can talk to our inner critic as a younger you who you want to be friends with. Responding with compassion and empathy certainly takes the wind out of its sails.

A useful tool to practise this would be to write down your inner critic thought and your kind response. Here’s an example:

Inner critic: ‘I can’t believe you did that. You never do anything right!’

Kind response: ‘You made a mistake, and that’s okay. You’re only human. You can learn from this. It’s not the end of the world.’

After all, if you wouldn't say it to a friend, why say it to yourself?

  1. Have Empathy for Your Inner Voice

The key to kindness is understanding. Your inner critic is doing its best to protect you from feelings of fear and shame.

In its own way, it’s actually trying to help, although it’s just not going about helping in the best way. Knowing this can change how you perceive and relate with your inner critic. It frees you to acknowledge and respond to your inner critic with empathy.

For example, staying with the above example, it would look like this:

Inner critic: ‘I can’t believe you did that. You never do anything right!’

Kind response: ‘Oh hi inner critic. I know you’re trying to protect me from feeling embarrassed and vulnerable, but it’s really okay. Mistakes are part of learning. I can grow from this.”

Ultimately, the key to treating yourself with kindness is really in listening to yourself in love and without judgement. Pay intention to yourself. You deserve to be listened to and treated with intentionality and kindness.

And remember, it’s okay to ask for help.

In fact, reaching out for support shows a strength of mind and recognition of yourself. It takes a team to win a football game, just like it takes a support team to help you thrive in life.

Your support team may have friends and family in it, but know that if you find your struggle with negative inner critic thoughts consuming and it's impacting your life, consider talking to a mental health professional as part of your support team. While it can be tough to share the thoughts you have with someone, therapists have training and can help you create a healthier inner dialogue.

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About Emma

Emma Woodcock is a writer and trainee counsellor who has worked with homeless young people as well as people suffering with anxiety and grief. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. She can be found on instagram at @emmawoodcockwrites or www.emmawoodcock.com.

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