How to Silence Our Inner Critic and Build a Healthier Voice
By Pascale E. Nakhle, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, MA Self-sabotage comes in different forms and sometimes in very subtle ways such as self-criticism. That inner voice, that you have accustomed yourself to and which you believe is
By Pascale E. Nakhle, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, MA
Self-sabotage comes in different forms and sometimes in very subtle ways such as self-criticism. That inner voice, that you have accustomed yourself to and which you believe is an important part of your growth and development, is exactly what’s keeping you from being more yourself and most importantly a healthier person.
We may have been raised to the notion that being hard on ourselves is what pushes us to do our best, to be productive, to have bigger ambition and to thrive more in life. However, when we are constantly putting that huge burden on ourselves, it is not only leading to burn-out, depression, frustration and stress but also to a constant reminder that “I am not doing enough”. This inner voice is exactly what is lowering our self-esteem and taking away our true enjoyment in life.
NOW that you have read that, it is time for you to make a little change that will impact the way you perceive yourself and the world around you. Start with little steps.
- Become aware of your inner critic and identify whose voice it is. Is it the voice of a punitive parent that you have internalized? Is it the voice of a critical partner? Is it the voice of a demanding authority figure that you have idealized?
- Once your inner critic speaks out and says something like “Stop being so emotionally demanding”, try to understand what it is trying to say. Underneath the harshness there may be something it is trying to protect you from. Be curious. Ask your inner critic what it is really trying to tell you. Could it be that your inner critical voice is somehow trying to protect you from social rejection or abandonment? Try to meet that voice with compassion rather than resistance; the same way you would react to your inner child who sometimes comes to you feeling vulnerable, in pain and rejected.
- Distance yourself from the inner critic and try to reframe the story in such a way that you are able to see things from a second-person perspective. Taking a pause and stepping back from the critical voice allows you to think logically and rationally about the situation. Look at the situation as an opportunity rather than a defeat or a flaw.
- Practice self-compassion and self-affirmation: Re-direct your focus to your strengths, your skills, your talents and your ability to make an impact around you. Affirmations are very important as they help us revise that image which is created by the inner critic and allows us a space to see ourselves as whole rather than compartmentalized. Even if the critical voice talks louder, keep on distancing yourself from it.
We need to move from perceiving ourselves as either “perfect” or “worthless” to that space where we can just see ourselves as “good-enough”. “Good enough” encourages us to take more risks and to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations where making mistakes is acceptable. This attitude and building a healthier voice are what will help us in our growth journey and in reaching goals that we allow ourselves to celebrate and enjoy.
Pascale E. Nakhle
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, MA
Graduate of the American University of Beirut.
Certified by Harvard Medical School in Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery.