You may have heard of the inner critic, or you may not. You may know it by another name (such as the gremlin, the perfectionist), but it’s fairly likely you have experienced it first-hand.
Your inner critic is a type of subpersonality that can be experienced as an internal voice, images, or other format. However, you experience it, it is essentially criticising your thoughts, behaviours, or emotions, for example “there is no point going for that promotion because you will never get it anyway, you aren’t good enough”.
Often these types of thought are what brings clients to seek therapy – they feel stuck in a rut and cannot see a way out or forward – their inner critic has the upper hand.
Controlling your inner critic can be a challenging process, but it is possible with some effort and practice. Keep reading for some tips that may help…
- Recognise: the first step is awareness. You have taken an amazing step by reading this already. Continue to pay attention to your thoughts, notice your inner critic and the negative self-talk that it engages in.
- Question: when your inner critic is in flow, challenge it by asking yourself whether what it’s saying is really true. It might be trying to protect you, but ask yourself, is what it is telling you realistic or logical? Alternatively, try visualising a container / jar / box. Then, tell yourself you are putting this aside for now and will return to it if / when it will benefit you.
- Practice self-compassion. Instead of being hard on yourself, try to treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would treat your best friend. What would your best friend say to you (if you told them what your inner critic says)? Why not respond in this way to yourself?
- Focus on your strengths: celebrate your successes and give yourself credit for your achievements. A concept utilised within Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is “our mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality”. We also work on reframing thoughts, when negative thoughts such as those from our inner critic arise, we reframe these in a more positive light. For example, instead of saying “I’m terrible at this”, say “I may not be perfect, but I’m doing my best”.
- Focus on what you WANT instead (of what you do not). Ask yourself, what is a small, manageable step towards, for example going for that promotion? Practise a power pose in the mirror, saying out loud 10 times “I DESERVE THIS”, every morning before work. What do you need to do to make this happen?
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you identify unhelpful thoughts, to reframe them, and help you feel more in control. The powerful element is that all this great work is solidified via relaxing hypnosis. This is where the conscious and unconscious mind can work together and focus on the same thing – whatever that is for you. Whatever you decide, in finding what works for you, using some of these techniques, or working with a therapist; over time, you may find that your inner critic has less power over you, and you feel more confident and self-assured.