Everyone, no matter their level of success in life, struggles with their inner critic.
It’s just how it is.
Most of my twenties were controlled by the debilitating beliefs that are often the side-effect of a too harsh inner critic. I was often paralyzed by fear. Wrecked by insecurity. I struggled with high-functioning depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
I had to listen to this persistent voice inside my head telling me that I wasn’t good at anything, that it wasn’t worth it to even try.
This ultimately led to me becoming so mentally and emotionally fragile that I couldn’t even look people in the eye when talking to them, I couldn’t even order pizza via a phone. And don’t even get me started on engaging strangers in conversation.
It’s a sad but melancholic truth that I had become a whisper, a shadow of a shadow.
The problem was I didn’t know how to use that negative voice to my advantage. I kept trying to silence it, but to no avail. The inner critic is there to stay, and no amount of self-help or therapy can ever make it go away. Success won’t silence the inner critic. Love won’t even turned down the volume a bit. Positive affirmations, Tony Robbins shouting greatness in your speakers, none of them can truly silence the inner critic.
Your demon, this demon, is here to stay.
And the truth is that you don’t want it to go away. You get rid of your demons, your angels will soon abandon you as well.
But you do want to leverage this inner critic to empower your actions, rather than act as a debilitating factor.
1. First of All, the Inner Critic Is Kind of Dumb
The negative voice tells lies to keep you safe. It’s your brain’s defense mechanism against danger.
Anxiety acts as a guardian angel. Its intentions are pure, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions and adverbs.
When it comes to life or death situations, your anxiety protects you. But in the trenches of day to day modern life, we rarely encounter a life or death situation that warrants such an extreme measure.
My fear of dogs would be so powerful that I’d either paralyze in the middle of the street, or try to cross the street without any regard for passing cars. It was kind of funny. I was also extremely lucky to never have been hit by a car.
The inner critic is far less useful nowadays because we rarely risk getting eaten by a predator. There’s no immediate danger.
2. Reframe What the Inner Critic Says
Because the inner critic isn’t objective, whenever you find yourself at conflict with it, whenever its goals aren’t aligned with yours, you must learn to immediately reframe it. Reframing is the most important part.
Life’s just a matter of perspective.
Instead of listing all the things that could go wrong, think about the one reason why it’s worth giving it a try.
Rather than listening to an inner critic that has turned into a voice of doom, you should reframe its message to guide you towards reaching your goals.
3. Use the Inner Critic’s Message to Go in the Opposite Direction
Instead of trying to silence the inner critic, use it as a trigger to go in the opposite direction of where it wants you to go.
Turn the negative self-talk into an empowering message. Every time you hear yourself thinking that you’re not good enough, that your negative traits are far too many, that it’s not worth it, that it’s not fair, you tell yourself that it’s not so.
After all, the inner critic is kind of dumb, far from objective, and even though its intentions are good, it won’t help you get to where you want to go.
In many regards, success is only possible if you act despite your inner critic, the same way a plane takes off against the wind, not with it.
Anxiety, negative self talk, self-doubt should act as triggers to turn them into something that empowers you.
If a thought does not serve you, reframe it to your advantage.
I hope those three tips serve you well in taming and leveraging — but not silencing — your inner voice.