I’m not good enough.

Everyone will laugh at me.

I’m not as good as the others.

People will think I’m stupid

All statements of ‘fact’. All statements guaranteed to make you feel like rubbish. All statements to set you on a path to failure.

So why is it that we come up with these statements to tell ourselves? I’ve been guilty of all of the above, plus my particular favourite, ‘I’m fat’, when I weighed less than 8 stone (thankfully that was many years ago now).

Our inner critic, believe it or not, is only trying to protect us. It’s trying to avoid situations where we’re not particularly confident so that we won’t fail at it. That being the case, sometimes we know better than our inner critic, or sometimes regardless of whether or not we’re feeling confident, we need to succeed at something.

In these kinds of situations, we need our best fight against our inner critic. Here’s five ways I’ve found helpful to curb that annoying voice in your head:

  1. Mindfulness – seriously, did you think I’d write a post and not mention mindfulness?! The key to many of life’s problems, becoming aware of your critic can do as much as any of the other points below. Sometimes our anxiety is so automatic we don’t even stop to think of where it’s coming from. Knowing it’s just our inner critic chatting s&*t can help remove the power it has.
  2. Challenge it – Why is your inner critic telling you this? If you were to have a debate with it, how would you challenge it? Tell it why it’s wrong!
  3. Express it to others – tell someone you trust about your inner critic. The old adage, a problem shared is a problem halved, isn’t always true but it can certainly bolster your confidence and make you feel a bit better. Pick a good friend who will tell you how amazing you are and how unfounded your inner critic’s claims are.
  4. Prove it wrong – Sink or Swim: take a deep breath and do it anyway. Yes, it’s scary and yes, it might not go perfectly, but there’s a good chance it will go OK, and that’s enough for now.
  5. Take the emotion out of it – it’s not what happens in our lives that causes us pain or upset, it’s the emotion we attached to these events. Work on becoming aware of what emotion you’re attaching to the inner critic’s words; what emotions do they evoke in you? Spend some time working on taking the emotion out of the words and treating them dispassionately, as if they were just meaningless letters written down on a page. This helps take the power out of the inner critic and allows you to regain control of your emotions.

Have you tried any of these? What was your experience with them? Let me know in the comments!