5 Ways To Quiet The Mean Little Voice Inside Your Head

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Brunette with short hair suns herself wistfully

Everyone is afraid sometimes. We all feel bad about ourselves, we all have doubts about our potential and no one is immune to the mean little voice that whispers (and even shouts) in your ear when you're feeling vulnerable.

But is that voice — your inner critic — getting in the way of your success and potential?

"Why am I so hard on myself?" 

In clearer moments, when confidence — however fleeting — once again takes over, we can't help but wonder why we are so hard on ourselves.

When that pesky voice inside your head holds you back from seeing all the possibilities, you limit your potential. You become your own worst enemy.

It’s hard to move when you feel worthless. 

RELATED: 3 Ways To Quiet Your Inner Critic & Find Your True Self

You might find yourself thinking that you don’t measure up. Those thoughts are self-critical, negative, and discouraging.

Your inner critic is finding fault at every turn and you become your own worst enemy.

Your inner critic is the reason you are so hard on yourself. 

However, there's another voice in your head and you may need to clear away some of the fog, self-doubt and fear to hear it.

When you decide to change the channel inside your head, you can listen to more nurturing and supportive tunes. That’s when empowering words will come through, loud and clear, so that you feel capable, smart, and resourceful again.

From this mindset, you can take charge.

Here are 5 things you can do to stop being so hard on yourself.

1. Ask questions.

Would you speak to your child or your best friend the way you allow your inner critic to talk to you?

Can you imagine yourself saying critical things to a young person or a relative you love like, "You’re too old — or too young." Or, "You don’t have what it takes."

"It’s hard, so you might as well quit."

"You’ll never be thin."

Probably not. At least, not if you have a compassionate bone in your body. Then, why do you let your inner critic get away with dragging you down from the inside out with all the negativity?

Ask yourself, "Is it true?" When a criticizing voice speaks up, pause, think about what it means, then ask yourself that question.

You can also ask if there's evidence in your life right now that can shoot down the idea in your head, calling it what it is: false.

Self-confidence is fragile. The more you allow degrading thoughts to play around in your head, the more you believe they're right.

Thoughts are not facts — they come from your subconscious where your memories of experiences, beliefs, and fears live.

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung said, "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate."

Are you willing to let fate take control? If your answer is "no", then you’ve made a great choice. Now, you get to decide from which voice you derive your power.

And, you get to determine which thoughts are valid for you now.

2. Step outside yourself.

Give your inner critic some space. Detach from the words you hear and become an objective observer.

This approach permits you to see things from a different perspective and hear the words with new ears. As a result, it will bring more clarity to your situation.

Imagine, for a moment, that your inner voice is talking to someone else.

What would you say to the person speaking? Would you scold them for being so unkind? Would you defend the person taking the brunt of the criticism? Of course, you would.

Taking away the power of your inner critic puts you in the driver’s seat.

3. Write a plot twist.

Now that you’re seeing and hearing your inner critic for who it is, you can tell the story in a new way. Instead of sharing all the negativity, you can put a positive spin on the tale.

For example, let’s say those inner voices are holding you back from doing something you want to do. They tell you how stupid an idea it is and that you’ll regret it.

All you can hear are the discouraging words that make you feel unequipped to handle whatever might come and you get stuck right where you are.

What if you're paying attention and notice right away what your inner critic is doing, so you call them out on it and say, "That’s not true!"

Then, you write a different end to the story.

Replace all the negative thinking with, "I am capable of doing this well because I am resourceful, I know who to ask for help, and I want to give this a try. And besides, even if it doesn’t work out perfectly, this will be how I learn to do it better."

Plot twist!

RELATED: 3 Ways To Stop Being So Defensive & Heal The Harsh Inner Critic That Makes You Lash Out

4. Notice how you speak and treat others.

This matters. If you're talking to them through the voice of your inner critic, you’re signaling your brain that it's okay to be critical.

Guess where the voices in your head get their marching orders from?

When you're non-judgmental and treat others with compassion and kindness, your inner critic will take a hike because you've created an environment where it's not welcome.

Likewise, when you think others are doing a better job than you and you’re comparing your worst to their best, your inner critic will take notice and run that scenario over and over again like a broken record.

You’ll be giving your power away.

The only one you should compare yourself to is you at an earlier time — your former self. That’s the only way you will recognize how far you’ve come compared to where you started.

You're the only one who matters in this equation.

5. Have fun with your inner critic.

Silence your inner critic, once and for all, by having a little fun with it. It will likely pop up now and again will try to take you down for the count — so be prepared.

Here’s an idea. Give that pesky and sometimes loud voice in your head a name and a personality.

I learned this technique a while back, and it made a big difference in how I interact with "Matilda." That’s what I call her.

I remember this character from a book I read as a young girl, and she was always cutting people down and trying to make them feel bad about themselves. I didn’t like her very much and that makes it easy for me to yell at her.

So, when Matilda raises her voice at me, I tell her to stop! Literally, I yell, "Stop!"

But, sometimes, it takes a while for me to notice that she’s hanging around because she tends to whisper.

She sneaks in to disrupt my thoughts, which keeps me from seeing the possibilities and meeting my potential. She loves to take me down a dark rabbit hole.

Matilda can be downright nasty at times and she's not someone I want hanging out with me.

So, I put my tools to work and kicked her to the curb just as quickly as possible.

You deserve to be treated well

So, when you want to silence your inner critic and hold it back from limiting your success, decide how you want to talk to it.

Choose the positive words and phrases you want to hear instead of the negativity and discouragement. Then, commit that you will speak to yourself with encouraging, empowering, and enlightening words.

Set the example for how you want others to treat you by showing how well you treat yourself.

Not only will these techniques put a muzzle on your inner critic, but you will be free to step into your power to achieve your best and be your best.

So long, Matilda!

RELATED: 5 Strategies To Outsmarting Your Inner Critic & Silencing Negative Self-Talk

María Tomás-Keegan is a certified life and career coach specializing in transition, and founder of Transition & Thrive with Maria. Learn more about the impact change can have on your life and how to move through it with more dignity and grace in her free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.

This article was originally published at Transition And Thrive With Maria. Reprinted with permission from the author.