Silencing your Inner Critic

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Silencing your Inner Critic

To become your biggest fan

There’s a nagging voice in my head, an internal enemy criticising everything I do. It lurks in the depth of my mind, lying dormant until it's ready to strike. Unleashing barrage of nuclear attacks, fostering inwardness, distrust, self-criticism, self-denial and limitation of myself - Toxicity is the word that comes to mind.

To say I have a negative, hyper-critical inner voice would be true. It’s a canine running wild chasing after every bird it can find and barking it into submission. This daily battle is one of little triumph. A heavily one-sided war. David vs Goliath.

I don’t have the energy to let it continue to rip apart the very fabric of life I perceive.

So, I did some research. I’m not claiming to be a behavioural psychologist or an esteemed member of the inner voice correction committee but I have an interest in being the best version of myself every day.

The critical inner voice is defined as a well-integrated pattern of negative thoughts toward one's self and others that is at the root of an individual's maladaptive behaviour. An overlay on the personality that exists, one that is not natural or harmonious to the incumbent but learned or imposed. In practice, it is the self-limiting thoughts which hold us back from growth.

For me, I have perceived my voice as an aspect of my personality ingrained so deeply into my subconscious, thus I treated it as I. Not as the overlay or separate entity it is. The new revelation I have come across is to engage with our voice as we would engage in a dialogue with a friend.

By treating the experience with our inner critic as a relationship, we see that as a friend, we should invest quality time to digest their concerns in a proper setting, ask them “what’s up” - creating that space between your higher self and the confusion of the inner voice. In turn setting boundaries and fostering healthy interactions. Through taking stock of the voice so as to not let it continue to be overwhelming, can be done in a variety of manners. Three exercises, I find highly useful are breathwork, meditation and journaling which don’t require any paraphernalia and can be done anywhere at any time.

From what I understand as you create this distance you will be able to initially identify what your critical inner voice is telling you, by verbally articulating the narrative of the critic in the form of “you” statements. Say it as it is, as you hear them or experience them and expunge the toxicity from the dark ether of the mind, into reality. Thus, you are enabling a more objective spotlight to be pointed at the thoughts building an understanding to investigate a root cause analysis.

For me, the content and tone of the barrage of attacks are old and familiar, a record player caught in a loop. The science backs this up, as the voices are expressing attitudes that are directed towards us as children. The way I perceive it is, the issue lies in the fact that our brains play judge, jury and executioner for oneself, protecting us in the easiest way no matter the cost. Hence as the inner voice is hurting us it is also trying to protect us, continually trying to wipe the pain from memory while additionally providing it with ammunition. Furthermore, because we live in a society where we internalise our failures and own problems more than ever before the voice thrives off the lack of verbalisation.

As one begins to essentially detach from their inner critic, we are able to have a clear dialogue with ourself - to answer back to the mounting attacks. The key I understand here is to actively engage in defending the attacks, if the voice is negatively criticising you one would want to positively counter it using rational statements true to your life. Not some airy-fairy dream world narrative. Ingrain the logic of the voice into your reality so it becomes bound by the laws of reality and not the sandbox that is your mind.

Through playing this very blunt game of chess with your inner critic, an awareness, a focus should naturally come to how the voices affect your behaviour. For myself in one area of my life, the voice prevents me from taking risks, pushing me literally into a corner with things going wrong in reality forcing me to become introverted as punishment. A possible remedy for this is to refrain from the self-destructive behaviour, encouraged by the inner voice in addition to implementing positive behaviours to consciously go against the negative recommendations of the critic, a positive offence so to speak, to complement the positive defence.

In our society, we seem to almost like to take ourselves overly seriously, even if it to our own detriment. It’s food for the inner voice to thrive on when life begins to fall apart. A good friend of mine and fellow author @mushinyesilada ideated a concept he calls the Ronaldinho effect: no matter what is going wrong in your life; whether it be losing a football match; forgetting to buy the right groceries at the shop; not cleaning the house on the right day; oversleeping your alarm once in a blue moon; just remember to smile, as Ronaldinho did. Because in the grand scheme of things what is going to happen? This emotion will set you on the path to becoming your own biggest fan, no matter the mistakes or obstacles you will begin to deeply love yourself.

There are individuals who have become numb to reality, living each day with their critical inner voice. The nagging and negativity compounding over decades to make them believe that this is what keeps a person on the straight and narrow, in their lane of life, never deviating. There is a need for internal critics, it helps to play a part in motivating us and pushing us forward, an overly harsh one will stump our growth. To combine a critic with a superfan, however, will propel your state of mind to new heights.

Free yourself from yourself, nurture the inner superfan, while taming the critic

I empathise with the fact that it is easier said than done but do yourself the favour of a lifetime to at least try.

How do you deal with your inner critic? Let me know in the comments or drop me a message on any of the following social networks. I would love to hear from you! — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube.