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Positive Change Series: Muffle The Internal Critic

Updated on January 21, 2015
Calm Your Internal Critic
Calm Your Internal Critic

Finding myself stuck in a funk and without a path to continue this series I set out to accomplish. I created a solution. One I use quite frequently. I adjust my plan and my thinking. The intention for the next piece of the series was to address goals. If you have not caught on yet, that has been postponed and will essentially come later. But for now I didn’t feel it appropriate to just trash the series that I began to believe in. So I decided to delve into what has been attacking my ability to carry out this mission. That damned internal critic that is the worst monkey-on-your-back, far more detrimental than the finest cognac.

What Is The Critic?

If my tone didn’t give it away, I am very frustrated with my critic as I am sure you are with your own. This is the internal negative part of ourselves. It is created over the years by internalizing negativity spewed by others who attempt to discourage or lack beliefs in your efforts. My critic is colossal since I had many real life monstrous critics while I was coming up. So as any good human would do, I adopted those suckers. Now I have a mixture of various people who didn’t believe in my abilities and constantly set out to foil my plans.

What Is The Purpose Of The Critic?

Essentially the critic is meant to protect the naïve child against blindly making a mistake that a more seasoned individual could ward against. However, when that internal critic is fostered by an overwhelming bunch of negativity thrown in their direction, the internal critic has the ability to get a little out of control.

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How To Get Lost In The Madness

Often the critic is familiar and in many unhealthy ways comforting. At least one knows the ability of their negative voice, likely without fail or surprise. Yet the downfall that many find themselves a part of is a silent silo due to not knowing up from down as the negativity is so apparent. Simply speaking, believing the critic is all too easy. The negative voice repeats our parents’ unconstructive guidance and those that came after or joined in with their efforts to verbally confine ones potential.

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Taming The Critic

A task not meant for the faint of heart or stomach. Especially when that critic is now full-grown living inside of an adult whom relies on this sort of fuel. Though, it may seem difficult and possibly a little silly but being nice to yourself aids in returning this beast to a functional size. Learning when the critic is just being a pain in the butt and when you actually need to listen to that voice.

Begin identifying when negative thoughts are overpowering a seemingly easy task. For example, my mind was completely blank and full of air bubbles trying to pump out words that made sense about goals. I teach clients on a daily basis about goals. I know them like the back of my hand. Yet this little creep, or let’s be kind, this critic yanked all my creative juices and I was left completely dry.

That was until I changed the game. Taming the critic occurs by staying one step ahead of this cunning creature. When the attacks come from one angle change the way you are looking at it.

How Do You Battle Your Internal Critic

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Taking Back The Power

Though on a serious note, the internal critic can be tamed and converted to its original purpose of warding off danger. Shrinking this bully down to its original size takes work and most of all patience. However, there are some helpful hints to use along the way.

Use past successes as markers

Just as past failures or dangers can guide one to not make another mistake of the same nature, tracking success works in a similar manner. Remember when you were able to be positive or get that job you really wanted. Set out to replay that moment once again.

Rely on others for insight

Others surely helped to create the critic, now use positive and supportive people to halt the critic right in its tracks. Often we are unable to see some of our own talents but they do not go unrecognized by others. So when you receive a compliment, use that moment to guide you when feeling unsure.

Don’t be consumed with being wrong

Hell to be honest, everyone is wrong some of the time. If you have met a person that denies that then they are telling a bold-faced lie. Just think of it like this – you could be wrong, but what if you are right. I see it as a fifty-fifty chance and those are pretty good odds, go for it.

If it is negative don’t feed it

Learning to resist the negative nature of yourself and others takes a bit of practice. But learning to recognize what is negative and what is healthy in terms of thoughts, perceptions and behaviors takes time and self-exploration.

Love yourself

Don’t leave a job to others that have the potential of letting you down, do it yourself. I hear all the time that people feel so alone, but if you learn to love yourself you will never be alone. It is no mystery, unless there is something I may be missing, you can never part from yourself. So guaranteed if given the opportunity you will always have one cheerleader and one mascot. That may be all you need.

Nothing is ever perfect

This statement I can tell will keep popping up throughout this series, as it is the truth. Perfection is a fantasy created by all and achieved by none. So try to be “good enough” and not perfect. I can feel the pressure lifting already. The unrealistic goal of perfection places so much unnecessary pressure on ones actions that it is no wonder that you can’t produce. Just like my earlier run in with the critic. Get smarter when trying to beat the critic instead of trying harder.

Establish A Boss Position

The critic will survive as long as it is fed. Learning not to give into the hype and when to trust your new instincts will certainly send the negative internal parent packing. Even if it becomes a lowered or muffled voice it will continue to exist in some capacity, though it may be less apparent. As a result of using the above tactics you take on the boss position and the critic only lives in the area of life that it is allowed. Just like training a dog, if you don’t allow the dog to sit on the couch eventually it will abide by the rule. Therefore, establishing the alpha within yourself will certainly set some ground rules. As a result it will only appear where it is allowed.

The Balancing Act

Like anything that tips from side to side, human behavior is similar to a teeter-totter. The best way to ensure change is by doing something different, it may not require a polar opposite response but will necessitate an altered approach. Just like the old teeter-totter when both parties get tired you plant your feet on the ground and become parallel to the ground. Imagine this concept in your mind and when you find your feet planted on the ground you are likely done with the tethering back and forth and you are at a place in life that is solid. You have arrived to a place, stripping the critic from its power, and with your feet planted sturdily on the ground you call a foundation.

Find your positive balance.


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    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      This is such an important subject and you write about it so well--we all have to find ways to deal with this critic--

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Iris for the kind words and support; I can only hope to keep up what I am doing. This is a particularly vulnerable time in most of our lives since our early critics were likely caretakers, whom we may share time with during the holidays. I am glad this was helpful. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy your family.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Dr.S, this is wonderful. It's excellent advice particularly at the end of the year when things slow down with business and life gets too busy. It's also timely as we begin a new year with hope. This spoke to me on many levels and I appreciate that you included Einstein's quote about fish. That is so true. Voted up and useful.

      Thank you for your vulnerability. You demonstrate your point perfectly. I hope that inner critic sits down and shrinks into the corner. I for one think what you do is valuable and that you do it well. Keep it up.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Diana for the comment. Getting around the inner critic is tough and takes tremendous positivity and prayer.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      The inner critic can stop many people from success in writing. I love your suggestions on how to overcome the negativity. I am one who faces these thoughts head on and use positive reflection and prayer to overcome them. Great article and well written.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Jo for the comment and for sharing :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Excellent article! sometimes our inner critic is really the enemy within, that is so hard to silence. Great tips on how to put pandora back in the box. Voting up and sharing.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Alicia for your comment. I hope the tips work for you :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I can certainly relate to the problems that you describe. Thank you for sharing your tips for dealing with an inner critic. They should be very useful!

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Catherine for the comment. Yes it returns over and again though staying positive will ward off the evil :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      The inner critic should be added to the list of witches in my "Old Witches Never Die" poem (in my hub about slam poetry). No matter how many times I battle this one, she always returns. thanks for the reminder to stay positive.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Karine for the comment.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the article - voted up! Lots of good pearls of wisdom. I can relate so much too.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Bill. I too wished I had more comments, but all in good time. Writers have the worst doubled-edged sword, the fantastic story lives in the same space that the critic tries to destroy. We must outsmart those pesky critics.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you for the comment Theresa. I think taking close consideration to situations when possible is brilliant. Too many times we are quick to react and that helps no one. For sure we are definitely our worse critic and I must say I have plenty unpublished pieces of work.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It pains me to see so few comments on hubs of yours. You are too good of a writer to go unnoticed. Having said that, I think you just mentioned the number one obstacle for most writers, and the writer who does not silence that inner critic does not last long in this game. Believe in yourself and critics be damned!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, I know I am my own worst critic for sure. I have unpublished perfectly good hubs just because I was not happy with them but everyone else seemed to be with a lot of comments and good score. I sometimes get stuck in those situations where I could have handled a delicate matter a lot better and then I will beat myself up about it, when there is nothing I can do about then as it is too late. Now, instead of reacting, I try to really think about it thoroughly before responding if at all possible for the betterment of all concerned.

      Great insight here.

      Up ++++ tweeting and pinning