Aug 032009
 
inner critic

Picture your inner critic as a soft fluffy purple “monster”, and you’re more likely to stop him! (image by angels, via flickr)

Is your inner critic stopping you from living fully, taking healthy risks, believing in yourself? These ways to stop criticizing yourself are from transformational coach Gini Grey.

Her tips range from acknowledging your inner critic to centering within yourself.

“Nag, doubt, warn, and judge is what the inner critic does best,” says Grey. “And we each have one, lurking in the back of our mind, waiting to emerge just when we’re about to take a step forward into something new, creative or wonderful. For some, this beast takes up full time residence, on guard 24/7, not letting anything get past it un-scrutinized. Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to stop the inner critic completely, unless you’re fully enlightened, so the next best thing is to tame it.”

For more insights from Grey’s work, read From Chaos to Calm: How to Shift Unhealthy Stress Patterns and Create Your Ideal Balance in Life.

And, read on for her five tips for taming your inner critic…

5 Ways to Criticize Yourself Less

Taming your inner critic is much like taming any wild beast – it must be done carefully and consistently. It’s a sneaky little critter and will come waltzing in the back door, just as you shove it out the front. If you judge it or condemn it, it has you in its grip again because you are behaving just like it. The best way to stop your inner critic in its tracks is to notice it, listen to it and then move on and ignore it.

Once you’ve tamed your inner critic, you’ll feel lighter and freer than ever before. You’ll have the courage and confidence to embark on any new adventure.

Get to know your inner critic

In order to tame your inner critic, you need to know how it operates. Rick Carson, author of Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way, recommends giving your critic a character description. What does it look like? Is it a tall spindly spinster with a whip in its hand, or perhaps a muscle bound, thick necked guard? What is its favorite message it repeats to you? Does it whisper or yell at you?

Create separation from your inner critic

Once you have identified the voice and message of your inner critic, remind yourself that it is just a critical voice in your head. You might want to give it a name, then when you recognize that it isn’t you, it will be easier to distance from it and not take it personally.

Acknowledge your inner critic

What you resist persists, so resisting the inner critic will only strengthen it. Say hello to it when it arises, but don’t take it seriously. If you can find a way to be amused by its presence, it will lose all its power.

If you criticize yourself so much that you border on self-hatred, read How to Forgive Yourself and Start Fresh.

Ask your inner critic what it wants

Although the inner critic tends to hold people back, it can also be a support if approached appropriately. Either in your mind or on paper, ask the inner critic what it wants, why it is behaving this way, and any other questions that come to mind. Ask how it can best support you. It may just be on a rant, or you may be surprised to discover it has a hidden agenda of helping you to be stronger in some way.

Remember that you are bigger than your inner critic

When the inner critic is in full force, it can feel bigger than you, but this is just an illusion. Center within yourself as a way to connect to your higher self, and soon the inner critic will vanish out of sight.

Try some or all of the techniques and watch your inner critic diminish in power, while you feel more empowered.

Are you so critical of yourself that you hate yourself for what you’ve done? Read 10 Reasons to Forgive Yourself for the Bad Things You Did.

What does your inner critic look, sound and behave like? Let us know what helps you tame your inner critic!

For more info about Gini Grey, visit Insights & Inspirations. She also contributed 5 Tips for Balancing Your Life, here on Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals.

  23 Responses to “How to Stop Criticizing Yourself”

  1. I think thought stopping might also be effective in taming your inner critic. Instead of entertaining your negative, critical thoughts, we need to just say “next” and sweep them out of our minds.

    I also love Byron Katie’s books on questioning your thoughts. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true!

  2. Some people are just more prone to self-criticism than others. Some people flagellate themselves endlessly for mistakes (that’s me!), while other people can let mistakes just roll off them.

    For some people, setting and achieving goals involves being less critical.

  3. I don’t quite understand at first why do we have to criticize ourselves in the first place. I mean, yes, we all do get upset sometimes when we fail in something or when some misfortune came to us. But let’s face it, it is life.

    And in life all you have to do is set and try to achieve your goals.

  4. Hello Broken Hearted Girl,

    That is so great you’ve identified your super monster inner critic and I know it can feel scary at times – as though that part of you might take over. It took me a long time to dig deep down to my own self-hatred which many people have from being raised in dysfunctional families (which makes up about 95% of the population from what I’ve heard). If not dealt with these feelings and thoughts either go outward toward others or inward towards oneself.

    Laurie’s suggestion of counseling would be great as a good counselor can help you to heal old wounds which trigger self criticism etc. There are also some good books out there – just go to a site like amazon and search for self-esteem type books. I’ve also written some articles on these topics at http://www.Suite101.com. Here’s a link to my profile (http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/ginigrey) where you can click on “all Gini Grey’s articles” to see the list and find the revelant ones.

    Most importantly though, feed yourself with more positive, loving thoughts than the negative ones you are hearing. There’s a parable about a man having a wolf on each shoulder – one that is kind and loving, the other that is mean and hateful. When he was asked how he handled the hateful thoughts he said it depended on which wolf he fed.

    Be good to yourself,

    Gini

  5. Dear Broken Hearted Girl,

    Yes, someone can help you! It’s great that you’re reaching out, that you realize you need support.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re so angry and self-critical. That’s a difficult place to be in life. We need to be kind and loving to ourselves, since the world and people in it can be tough on us! If we aren’t kind and loving to ourselves, who will be?

    I don’t know where your frustration and anger comes from, but I encourage you to talk to someone in person about it. You CAN find someone to help you love and forgive yourself…you just need to pick up the phone and reach out.

    Try calling a counselor or therapist. Or, call a local help line or distress line. You could even talk to your pastor or some sort of spiritual leader. You could also try something a little different — Gini Grey, who wrote this article about your inner critic, is an energy healer.

    Here’s a link to an article about energy healing:

    What is Energy Healing?

    I encourage you to talk to someone about the pain you feel, my friend. You don’t have to live this way — but you do need to find the strength and courage to reach out and get in-person help.

    I wish you all the best — and thank you for your comment on my “Songs for a Broken Heart” article! I liked your suggestions :-)

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  6. my inner critic looks and sounds like a super monster. i feel like there is a monster inside of me waiting to jump out. i scares me. i don’t know why i am so mad and ready to beat myself up for everything i say and do. i dont understand where all this frustration and sadness comes from. can anyone help?

  7. This is one of my favorite articles on Quips & Tips, because an out-of-control inner critic can really drag you down and hold you back from achieving your goals.

  8. Thats very good to know… thanks

  9. I love that — making your inner critic part of your team, instead of a critical nag! That’s wonderful, Gini :-)

  10. Yes, talking to the inner critic and asking why it is being hard on you can be helpful as it is often trying to help (even if it is overbearing and often stems from parental messages). If you can build a good relationship with the inner critic (which is a way of taming it)it can be a part of your team, instead of a critical nag.

  11. To be honest, I don’t talk to my inner critic. I ignore it and hope it goes away — though I know that’s not exactly “taming” it!

    I like the idea of talking to it, though…Gini suggested the same thing. She suggesting asking your inner critic what it wants. “Why are you so hard on me?” is a good question for your inner critic, I think.

  12. I have a loud inner critic, and learned through books and counseling that inner critics can be helpful in alot of ways. Inner critics keep people real and human, and help them survive. They’re not all bad.

    I also like dialoguing or talking to my inner critic.

  13. Gini,

    Your words about WHY people keep certain messages in their heads reminds me of Dr Phil’s advice. He always asks, “What’s the payoff?” In other words, why are you doing that behavior or keeping those thoughts alive.

    Janet, even negative, critical inner voices have a payoff of some sort. In your case, maybe your dad’s critical voice is familiar and keeps you safe in your comfort zone. His voice keeps you down where it’s secure.

    I hope Gini’s advice works for you — I hope you can free yourself from your dad’s critical voice, and from your own inner critic!

    Best wishes,

    Laurie

  14. Hi Janet,

    I’m glad you like the tips for taming your inner critic – I hope they help you to be bigger than your dad’s voice. Knowing that it is your dad’s voice in your head is the first step, but looking at why you keep his messages in your head would be the next. Naming the belief or conditioning or programming that keeps you hooked into letting his voice be bigger than your truth would help you to release it.

    You might try sitting in meditation and allowing the inner hidden beliefs or messages to surface. For example, many people still have a parent’s voice in their head because of an agreement about loyalty, or fear they will lose the parent’s love if they make clearer separations from the parent – then the next step would be to unveil the lie in that and look at the truth again. Another person’s message may be about giving up space to males or authority figures.

    As we realize what’s hooking us into the pattern, belief, conditioning, agreement etc. we can then choose to free ourselves from it.

    Hope this helps,

    Gini

  15. Hi,

    I like your tips for taming your inner critic, and I wonder how they connect to energy healing. Above you said that naming foreign energy helps people overcome beliefs and problems.

    So are you saying that just knowing why you have an inner critical voice means you’ll overcome that voice? My dad was always very critical, but I can’t seem to get his voice out of my head.

    Janet

  16. Hmmm…..I’ve never been into astrology or psychic readings, no. I wouldn’t be opposed to getting a free reading, but I wouldn’t pay money for one! I think there are too many people out there who take advantage of our craving to know the future, to know the answers.

    But, I do believe in psychic energy and things we don’t see. If you’re thinking about getting a reading or astrological forecast, I think it’s important to find a psychic through a trusted friend, family member, or colleague. Looking someone up in the phone book or online may not be the best route to take.

    That said, I’d get an energy reading from Gini any day! But, I know her and trust her — she’s not just someone I found online. Plus I think energy readings and chakras are very different than psychic readings and fortune telling.

    By the way, I think energy readings are a great way to tame your inner critic. An energy healer or energy coach can teach you how to recognize and channel your energy…and that can change how you feel and think about yourself.

    Thanks for your explanation, Gini — it was very helpful!

    Hope you found it helpful, too, Kelly. What do you think of psychic readings?

    Laurie

  17. Hi Kelly,
    Yes, I believe in both, if they are done by professionals with integrity. I myself, do energy and aura readings, which are like psychic readings except I don’t like to future read (forcast), because people can change the energy of a situation any time they want.

    The purpose of my readings is to help people become aware of themselves as a spiritual being with unlimited power to create their lives. I look at the layers of the aura and chakras to see how the person’s natural energy flows with their own truth and then I mention where they have foreign energy (others beliefs, conditioning from childhood, society programing etc). Just naming these helps people to release what is not them.

    I also look at relationships, situations etc to see the bigger picture and overall purpose as I believe we each are creating our own lives to experience, learn, heal, grow etc so on a soul level we are setting up situation with others to learn from.

    I also teach clients how to read their own energy, situations, relationships etc. because we all have the ability to do this from a spiritually centered place, outside of our analytical, logical minds (which are great for planning, doing taxes, organizing etc. but not for seeing the whole, bigger picture.). Unfortunately most people have been raised to trust only their logical brains and not the unseen which is actually more real.

    If you click on my name with this posting you will be taken to my blog site (Insights & Inspiration, but if you click on my Celebrate Yourself logo on the side bar of my blog site you will be taken to my regular website (ginigrey.com) and then go to the sessions page and scroll down to the yellow highlighted words, such as energy healings and energy readings and energy awareness for more info on my perspective.

    So that’s my take on it. How about you Laurie – any other aspect to add to mine – am interested to hear your perspective? And, Kelly, would be great to hear back from you on your perpective or your thoughts on my perspective.

    Thanks for asking this question,

    Gini

  18. Do you believe in astrology and psychic readings? What’s your aspect on that?

  19. I’m glad you put the Taming Your Gremlin book cover in – it’s a great image. It’s not a boggart though – you have to rent some Harry Potter movies to see – they’re more ghostly as I recall.

    The gremlin on the cover of the book is probably from a fairy tale. My introduction to gremlins was from the movie, Gremlins. Cute little furry creatures that would turn into ugly little gremlins (I think this happened when they got wet – it’s an old movie so I don’t remember all the details).

  20. I had to insert Rick Carson’s “Taming Your Gremlin” book cover — what a fantastic image of a gremlin.

    Is that what a boggart looks like?

    It definitely looks tame-able…..I like that image of an inner critic!

  21. I didn’t see (or even read) Harry Potter — I must be the only one on earth! yikes, and I call myself a writer ;-)

    But, I can just imagine what the boggarts look and sound like, aided in part from your description of them being sneaky little critters. Great description, of them waltzing in the back door. I love it!

    Thanks for this article on taming your inner critic, Gini.

  22. The boggarts in Harry Potter is such a great example Sandra! Using humour is a great way to dispell the power of the inner critic – thanks for sharing that.

    Our parents can be the strongest influences in our life so you’re awareness of your mother’s voice in your head will help free you up from it.

    ‘Taming Your Gremlin’ by Rick Carson is a great book to get for dealing with the inner critic – he uses a mindfulness approach. My book, ‘From Chaos to Calm’, deals with shifting stress patterns so has a chapter that has you look at your stress reaction style as if it was a character role you are caught in. It also has a chapter on shifting limiting beliefs so all the exercises can also be used for the inner critic.

    Good luck taming your mother,

    Gini

  23. I like this!
    Much of it reminds me of the boggarts in Harry Potter. In their case the thing they feared already had a form, Professor Snape, a spider or a cobra. But by dressing it up in funny clothes rollerskates, and saying the spell “Riddikulus!” at it, they took all its power away.

    My inner critic in my mother. She used to be an outer critic as well, but now she is well entrenched in my head. I’m going to use the above steps (maybe buy the book) and tame her.

    “Riddikulus!”

    Sandra

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