5 Ways to Quiet Your Inner Critic
It takes a lot of courage to pick up a paintbrush, or a pen or any creative tool.
It doesn’t matter what your medium is. Creativity is daunting. It can feel overwhelming.
I know that when I am painting or writing, I sometimes have to listen to my inner critic.
The voice of my inner critic is loud and intrusive. It’s a voice that says things like this-this isn’t very good, or this is a dumb idea, or you're terrible with color, and you always have been…. you can’t write you're a terrible speller.
You get my drift.
Sometimes this voice can be too much. I know for me, it’s gotten in the way and led to some dry spells, doubt and even periods of depression.
Our inner critic/gremlin can be an annoying neighborhood bully and cause us freeze up and to second guess what we are doing.
Have you ever struggled with this kind of doubt?
This voice can often show up as a judgment filled, overprotective chatter that makes you feel you are not very good at what you are doing.
It can full of distortions and oversimplification from past experiences - even as far back as early childhood.
The good news is that it’s just a voice that is trying to keep you out of harm's way.
Our brains are wired to look for potential dangers and keep us safe no matter what.
I’ve never had any luck ultimately getting rid of this voice. It seems like the more I try to push it away from the louder it gets.
I am learning to tame it and not let it run the show.
We can calm the inner critic if we approach it differently.
Here are a few things to try.
Honor your Critic.
Honoring it means recognizing that it is not the enemy. In fact, it can be beneficial in some instances. The most important thing to remember is that you are in charge. You’ve got this!
The critic can come along for the ride in the car. It can even sit next to you in the front seat. Just please, don’t give it the keys.
Pause and Feel.
Take the time to identify how your critic shows up. The chatter in your head might have a reverberation in your physical body.
You might notice that along with the dialog in your head, there is a constriction or tightness in your throat, chest or abdomen.
Take the time to feel the sensations, place hand on your heart or abdomen and breath deeply into those sensations.
Taking the time to slow down, notice, sense and breathe are simple mindfulness techniques that can help you reduce your stress response.
Your inner critic is the part of you that wants you to be ok. What would it feel like to see and feel compassion for all aspects yourself?
It might be as simple as just allowing and observing the critical voice to come and go just as it is. Like watching clouds go by on a summer day. They take different shapes and forms.
Notice what it’s saying. Have you heard this before? Can you allow it to be there without pushing it away or attaching to it?
There are real benefits to practicing this kind of self-compassion. Studies say those practice compassion produce less cortisol the hormone associated with the stress response.
Shine a little light on what your critic might be saying.
Just naming what’s there can create a powerful shift and allow you to unhook from the fear and self-judgment.
Writing about your inner critic is also a great way to understand and see it for what it is. You might try writing in a journal every day.
Reframe the conversation.
Ask yourself is there another way to look at this?? Is there a way to be more gentle and support yourself at this moment. This invitation to see things in a new way invites you to create a more positive response.
How are working with your inner critic?