The Inner Critic

“I can’t believe I slept so late, I’m so lazy.”

“I will never get all of this done in time, I’m so stupid for offering to help.”

“I’m such an idiot! I can’t believe I forgot my book again!”

“There is no way I could pull this outfit off, I’m way too fat.”

Do you ever have thoughts like these? Or maybe say something similar in casual conversation? They seem so minor and trivial-they seem to slip out without us even noticing. We casually criticize ourselves for the tiniest infraction or for not living up to some impossible standard.

Most people will say it’s not a big deal- they know they’re not really stupid or lazy-it’s just something said out of frustration in the moment.

But what if those things we think to ourselves or say in casual conversation were actually being said to us by another person? We probably wouldn’t think it was “no big deal” if our close friends constantly told us we were stupid, lazy and fat. I can’t imagine I would want to spend time with anyone that would criticize or demean me. Yet, many of us still accept the judgment of our inner critic on a daily basis without a second thought.

What if we treated ourselves with compassion? What if we expected the same from ourselves as we do from those around us? The fact of the matter is, we believe what we tell ourselves. I often tell my clients that our brains “hear” what we say and think. It reinforces negative thoughts about ourselves that can worsen feelings of sadness, hopelessness and low self esteem. It can also hinder our ability to problem solve and change so similar incidents don’t happen in the future.

So, how do we become kinder and gentler on ourselves?

  • Accept that you’re human and will make mistakes. Look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective. Will the world truly end because of this one mistake? Will my friends actually no longer like me because I tripped and fell on the sidewalk? If the answer is no, let yourself off the hook.
  • Make amends if necessary. Sometimes what we do affects other people (being late for a movie, forgetting an important date, etc). Instead of beating yourself up, ask the other person what you can do to make it right. This takes away the power of guilt and helps us move on when we might be tempted to continue feeling poorly about ourselves.
  • Pay attention to what you tell yourself. Spend a day truly listening to your thoughts. If something negative pops up, try reframing the thought. Instead of “I can’t believe I slept in, I’m so lazy!”, try “I must have really been tired, I’m glad I could give my body the sleep it needed.”

These are just a few ideas to help pave the way. However, sometimes these thoughts are constant and intrusive. Do you ever feel like you’ll never be good enough or that you really dislike yourself? Do you find that the “inner critic” is always there, just waiting for a mistake to be made? Sometimes these thoughts can be overwhelming and make life more difficult and less enjoyable. If you are having difficulty silencing your inner critic, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.


LECS Counselor