You’re Not The Boss of Me Flipping the Script on Your Inner Critic

By: ROCHELLE NEWMAN, Walton Isaacson

I spent years trying to silence my inner critic. Let me save you some time. Silencing is not the answer. In fact, it’s part of the problem. The harder you try to stop the madness, the madder your inner critic gets. So how do you tune out the toxic? Here are a few suggestions:

Super Size It:  Inner critics often blow things out of proportion, exaggerating our every vulnerability and positioning them as fatal flaws. Rather than resist, try reframing these attacks as irresistible opportunities to double down on your critics assertions. If it says you are weak – take it up a notch. What if you were the weakest in the world? If Guinness Book of World Records were giving out weakness awards, guess who the winner would be? Super sizing your inner critic’s “little” insults can be a great way to laugh a little, stopping yourself from falling into the inner critic trap and sinking into a funk.

Stand Up To It: Your inner critic is a bully. It’s that simple. And bullies count on people to quake and cave. Don’t fall for it. Push back. Surprise your inner critic with a heaping helping of outer confidence and, who knows, you may surprise yourself too.

Soothe It: Your inner critic might be your inner child throwing a tantrum. It’s scared but it doesn’t want anyone to know. Or, it’s cranky and doesn’t think it’s getting enough attention. Show it some love. If you’re alone with your critic, speak to it – yes, literally, out loud. Say something like – Hey you, I hear you, I know you’re there, but I need you to give me a minute to do my thing. Relax. I’m good. Thank you.

Satirize It: A sense of humor is an invaluable tool for twisting toxicity and putting it into perspective. Comics rely on self-deprecation to expose their human flaws and foibles – and audiences laugh with them and not at them because they have the courage to pull the mask off and expose vulnerabilities. You may not want to jump on a stage and grab a mic – but you can still find some funny in your insecurities and call them out – beating your inner critic to the punch. One way to do this is to separate your inner critic from yourself by turning it into a character – the separation from self and the satirical character study allows you to have more say in the script and its impact on you.

Scrutinize It: Don’t take your critic at face value. Challenge its assertions. Study it. Play a game of“suppose” with it – Suppose your inner critic wasn’t talking to you. Suppose it was judging someone else’s actions – someone you care about. Now, do you suppose you would think your inner critic was being constructive? Not likely.

Not only don’t I try to silence my inner critic anymore, but I have also stopped dignifying that annoying little voice in my head with the dignity of “critic” status. What I have running around my head is an “inner critter.” Part hamster: judging by the rut-like wheel it likes to spin. Part snake: judging by the slithering and constricting. And part puppy: hyperactive, stubborn, and mouthy.