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Hey Inner Critic: Shush! 6 Techniques to Quiet That Nagging Voice

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Updated: December 5, 2020
Posted In: Best Of The Web

Oh, the inner critic. We all have one. Yammering on, telling us all the ways we suck, we will fail, we shouldn’t even try.

Even now, as I write these words, my inner critic tells me that I’m not a writer and that no one cares what I have to say. As you can tell, my darling reader, I continue to write regardless. I don’t take what my critic says too seriously.The basic gist behind why we have an inner critic is: once upon a time, someone was mean to us (a parent, a bully, a teacher) and we internalized their voice. What that influential person said to us became the things we say to ourselves.

We all tend to be our own worst enemies. We impose limitations on our capacities that are rooted more in our wounding than they are in reality. In order to live up to our potential, we need to strip the inner critic of his power.

One of the most effective antidotes to the critical voice is the ability to tap into the playfulness of the inner child. Before children internalize critical voices, they are free and unafraid of authentic self-expression. Children who are not yet influenced by familial and societal norms aren’t concerned with looking silly or being perceived as stupid. They just are. They just be.

So how can we quiet the inner critic? How can we tap into our inner child?

  1. Let it Out.

Write all of the negative thoughts your critic has to say. Then let your inner child scribble, write, and draw all over it.

For example, my inner critic writes:

My inner child responds:

You might even bring a third part into the mix, one with an encouraging voice. For example…

Draw something intentionally ugly. Write something intentionally stupid. Did you do it? Are you still alive? Journal, what does your critic have to say about your ugly drawing? What does your inner child have to say about it? What do YOU have to say about it? YOU, who are neither the child nor the critic. YOU, who is the one witnessing and watching and listening to them both. YOU, who can observe these parts with a sense of distance.

  • 3. Personify the Critic.

If your inner critic were a person, creature, animal, blob of color…what would it look like? Draw it. Or you can also find an image in a magazine or online that best represents the personified version of the critical part of you. Print it out, cut it out, glue it in your journal. Then use your imagination to give it a name, age, gender, and personality. Whenever you notice a critical thought in your head, pretend it is this image talking to you. This gives you some space from the critical voice and your sense of YOU.

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