The last two posts we looked at the inner critical voice: what it is and what it is not. We know that it is thoughts, comments, and beliefs that we have internalized. We also know that it is rarely useful. Today, we will look at some ways to work with and quiet the inner voice. Even if we cannot completely silence the inner critical voice, we can recognize it and not allow it to derail our process nor rob us of life’s pleasures. It is important to note that we often believe that our inner critic is trying to protect us by keeping us from trying new things or taking risks. While risks can be unnerving or even frightening, there is no progress or growth by always playing it safe. Additionally, the inner critic can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of zero progress, which in turn fuels the inner critic thus creating an endless loop.

Once we recognize our inner critic’s voice, we can begin working with it. One of the most pleasant and effective ways to quieten the inner voice is practicing self-compassion. When we practice self-compassion, we begin to accept ourselves, warts, dings, and all. Viewing yourself with compassion helps foster the belief that you are basically a good person who does well, most of the time. It is a wonderful practice to say kind things to yourself and asking for gentle evidence can be very useful. This counter inner-dialogue is not “crazy” at all! Most successful, compassionate people give themselves pep talks and mental “pats on the back.” When we first start being and saying compassionate and kind things to ourselves, it may feel really uncomfortable–keep working on it!

Stop ruminating! Endlessly hashing over every mistake, misspoke word, or embarrassing event feeds the inner-critical voice, much like pouring gasoline on a fire! Ruminating is NOT the same as problem-solving. If practicing self-compassion doesn’t work, distract yourself. Go for a walk, watch a movie, read, change the subject-just disrupt the rumination cycle!

Next post we will look at a few more ways to tame our inner-critical voices. We will be moving on to interpersonal communication skills. In the meantime, please be nice to yourself, practice self-compassion, continue to ask for evidence, and interrupt the rumination cycle. Have a great week and weekend!

Lori Brandt