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How Do I Silence My Inner Critic?

A head with jigsaw pieces inside

One of the things I get asked often in my stress and resilience class is: “how do I silence my inner critic that shows up whenever I’m about to do something important?”

Many of us have a familiar internal narrative going on.  You know that voice that lives in the back of your mind. The one, when the going is tough decides to move from the back in to the front for while so that it is on hand to offer free opinions and advice on all sorts of things.

I’m talking about the familiar voice that tells you not to bother going for that job.  The one that says other people are much better that you and convinces you that the boss likes them more than she likes you.

Or the voice that tells you that you are going to mess up that project that you are working on and that you’re too late to pull it together because you’re presenting it in a weeks’ time.  It reminds you that you’re a fraud and that you’ll get found and then you’ll get those feelings of shame and embarrassment.  

Believe it or not, in some ways the voice is really your mind trying to help you out by protecting you.  But just how helpful is it?

How much is that voice stopping you from getting where you want to go, being the person that you want to be and living the life that you want to live?

If your answer is: yes, I know this voice and it keeps tripping me up. It keeps ambushing me whenever I’m about to take a step forward,  then  maybe it’s time you did something about it.

One way to silence your inner critical voice is to think about it like an old story that your mind tells you e.g. The I’m not good enough story or the I’m going to mess up story. My guess is that this is a story that your mind has been telling you for years. 

To deal with this differently, you don’t need to try and change it or ignore it.  Just notice it and acknowledge it for what it is – an old story. Then remind yourself why it matters to you to do the thing that you really want to do.  We call this technique Defusion.

The story still exists in your mind, it hasn’t changed, but by noticing it and calling it out for what it is e.g. the I’m not good enough story, we don’t join with it or get tangled up in it.  It’s not the stories themselves that are the issue, what causes us all the problems is when we get hooked into them.

These skills are worthwhile practicing, particularly as not getting tangled up in our inner world stories creates the opportunity to do the things in life that really matter to us.

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