Silence The Inner Critic

Silence The Inner Critic


We all have a part of ourselves that we refer to as the inner critic. It is no problem to some people and a great problem to others. Thoughts pop in to our heads that criticise us and we react accordingly.

Sometimes our inner critic pipes up and says something to us like “You are completely and utterly useless!” or poses the same thing as a question “Why are you so utterly useless?”

Our natural response to the inner critic coming up with a pointed question like that is to start feeling bad and just take it at face value and potentially start on that downward spiral.

If you need a tip to silence your inner critic then there’s some simple help at hand from an ancient Greek, Socrates.

I have met people who don’t take any notice and it’s not a problem. Lucky them.

For others the issue is taken more personally. I have met people who basically have a stand up row with the inner critic for doing that. They get nothing but raise the level of stress hormones in their blood stream. Others take it so personally that they take it to heart and start feeling ill.

What if we adopt a different posture here. You may not realise it but these thoughts are not true. There may be a grain of truth there (you may have done something wrong once) but usually it’s the complete opposite of the truth. So why not go the Socrates route which on the way shows that we are actually OK.

Here’s an example.

Inner Critic: Why do you always get it wrong.

Me: Is there a rational point to that question

Inner critic: You should feel bad right now and you really deserve it.

Me: I’m not sure that I always get it wrong, are you sure it’s 100% of the time.

Inner critic: You’re useless and you always get it wrong.

Me: Can you prove that, where’s your evidence for that

Inner critic: Hang gliding, snow boarding, growing chillies!

Me: Is that it or are there more examples

Inner critic: There’s lots more examples but I can’t think of them just now.

Me: I can think of loads of times I got things right.

Inner critic: Go on then you useless piece of … show me.

Me: I remember teaching the dog to sit. I remember going fishing and not only catching a fish but having a good time. I remember looking in to the eyes of my daughter when she was born and that was incredibly right. I remember watching the midnight sun in Lapland and that is so right. I remember helping a neighbour with her laptop. I remember learning to do hypnosis. I remember so many things that worked so well.

Inner critic: Well you’re still useless.

Me: I don’t think so. I know that I’m not perfect. I know that I’m OK.

Inner critic: silence…

So what happened here?

I didn’t have a stand up row. I asked what the rationale behind the question was and for proof to back up the assertion that came with the question.

In going through that process I actually realised internally that the inner critic was wrong and that I’m not useless. I brought to mind so many memories about when I got it right, I admitted that I wasn’t perfect, which is true because I don’t always get it right, but accepted that not being perfect is actually OK.

I think you probably see how this goes but if you need some help, here’s a set of questions you could ask. But I’m sure that you can see that instead of feeling bad about that snap judgement of your inner critic you can actually turn it round by asking honest simple questions in search of the truth.

It can be time consuming at first but the range of accusations and invalid conclusions that the inner critic comes up with is actually quite limited and once you get the hang of not curling in to a ball and feeling bad you can actually turn it around and make your self feel good about yourself.

This method was used by the ancient Greeks like Socrates when trying to get to the truth of a matter. Hence the name Socratic questioning.

Here are some questions that may help get to the heart of thoughts, attitudes and internal questions:

  1. What reason is there to believe that?
  2. Is there a point to the question?
  3. How rational is that?
  4. Is that 100% true? and how do you know it’s not 0% true?
  5. What evidence is there to support that thought?
  6. What’s the consequence of believing that?
  7. Where is this thought or attitude getting you?
  8. Are you confusing a thought with a fact?
  9. Would your friends and colleagues agree with that statement?
  10. Imagine yourself having 100% overcome these problemsideal future self say to you about that negative belief?
  11. Are you expecting yourself or others to be perfect
  12. Are you exaggerating the importance of this problem?
  13. Are you fortune telling with little evidence that the worst case scenario will actually happen?
  14. How do you know what people are really thinking?
  15. Are you concentrating on your own (or others’) weaknesses and neglecting strengths?
  16. If a friend made a similar mistake, would you be so critical?
  17. Are you placing unrealistic rules on yourself or others?
  18. Are you blaming yourself or others unfairly?
  19. Are there any exceptions to that?
  20. Are you placing unrealistic rules on yourself or others?

Your inner advocate can use all of these to challenge the inner critic. Eventually the inner critic gets the message and stops doing it. After all it’s part of you and you are a learning machine.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top