How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Amplify Your Confidence

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We all have two voices inside us.

There’s the one that is nurturing and uplifting—the voice that empowers us to lean into what we love, the voice that speaks the languages of confidence, encouragement, and possibility.

Then there’s the one that is critical and discouraging—the voice that weighs us down like gravity, rendering us incapable of growing into who we are ought to become.

That second voice is your inner critic. And it’s a form of self-sabotage—it’s holding you back from seeing the change you want to create in your life.

Think about it:

How can you expect to move your life in a forward motion when your critical, judgemental voice is speaking so loud, it’s constantly berating you and scolding you for not being good enough and always making mistakes?

Your inner critic does not motivate you.

Do you know what does motivate you?

The voice of encouragement. The voice of self-compassion. The voice of possibility.

Thoughts and feelings of inferiority, shame, and self-criticism can negatively impact our health and well-being. Neuroscience research has suggested that constant self-judgment and shame can even shut down the learning centers of the brain, which then robs us of the resources we need to learn and grow.

It’s clear how self-loathing and negative self-talk lock us in a perpetual vicious cycle and hold us back from leaping into new and healthy behaviors. Just think of all the times you stopped yourself from taking positive action because that visceral voice in your head convinced you otherwise.

Self-shaming ultimately undermines our fragile belief in ourselves, which then shatters our self-confidence, and leaves us stranded on an island of helplessness.

As Brené Brown puts it:

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

Your inner critic is holding you back from leaping forward, and it’s time we loosen its grip on you. It’s time you silence it. Here are five things you can do today to dim the sound of your inner critic and amplify that of your inner commender.

1. Meditate to Become More Mindful

The first step in silencing your inner critic is to become aware of it. And the reason is this: We cannot change what we are not aware of.

As Carl Jung once wrote:

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Meditation will help you make the unconscious conscious. It’ll help you raise your awareness of your inner voice so you can shine a light on it and make a change. It’ll help you become more mindful. And mindfulness is simply your ability to recognize your thoughts before you engage with them.

When you recognize that you are not your thoughts—you are simply the observer of your thoughts—you begin to change the way you think. You begin to consciously choose which thoughts you want to give your attention to.

Self-critical thoughts are not facts, they’re simply ideas that you’ve subconsciously programmed yourself to regularly empower. They were seeds that you kept on watering. Today, they’ve become so rooted in you and the way you think.

It’s time to pluck them out.

Here’s a universal truth in life: The thoughts you give attention to create the emotions that you feel.

And just as how uplifting thoughts generate uplifting emotions, and scary thoughts induce fearful feelings, negative thoughts about yourself will create negative feelings about yourself. You’ll feel worthless. You’ll feel discouraged. You’ll shrink yourself down when in truth, you’re as grand, capable, and mighty as the moon is whole.

2. Create a Silly Character to Imagine as Your Inner Critic

In a recent Creative Rebels podcast, guest and coach Chloe Brotheridge shared a tip on how to silence your inner critic: “Turn your inner critic into a funny character… Think of a funny cartoon character that makes you laugh or smile that you can start imagining your inner-critic as.”

I thought this was a powerful technique, and I’ve been using it over the past few weeks.

While I didn’t go with the funny route, I chose Zazu, the bird from The Lion King, as my character. Why Zazu? Because he’s a very uptight character who takes himself and his role way too seriously. He plays by the exact rules in the book.

And you know what? I never liked him.

He’s annoying and doesn’t like to have fun.

So, now, anytime a self-loathing critical thought creeps into my mind, like “this isn’t going to work out” or “I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve my goals this year,” I imagine Zazu whispering those ideas in my ear and I think: “Shut up Zazu. Go away!”

So try it out. Choose your character and imagine their voice as your inner critic. If the voice sounds silly, you’re more likely to take it less seriously. You downsize that voice, reduce its gravitational pull on you, and in that process, lighten everything up.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

In today’s extremely competitive culture, it’s so easy for us to plunge into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. And when our mind plays tricks on us, making us feel like we don’t measure up, our harsh self-critic descends us deeper into the pit of inferiority and negative self-image.

So here’s an idea:

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Stop looking outward and start turning inward instead.

Every time you cast a gaze and point a finger toward someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you. That’s your body literally reminding you to redirect your sight back inward. You are whole. You are full. You are worthy. And you are capable.

If only you learned that the only person you should compare yourself to is the previous you, then you’d recognize the power that is already vested within you.

Comparison is the instigator. It’s the match that sparks the fire upon which your inner critic thrives. Be wary of it. Don’t breathe air into it. Shift your gaze inward instead—that’s how you tame it.

4. Practice Self-compassion

Life is imperfect, and so are we.

Just accept that.

As you grow into that mindset, you begin to embrace your uniqueness, move past self-judgment, and tame your self-critic. You start living a more fulfilled and content life knowing that you are you and you are whole.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”—Dalai Lama

Self-compassion entails being kind to yourself in instances of perceived failure or emotional distress. It’s a prominent form of self-acceptance and self-love.

As author and psychologist Shauna Shapiro explains:

“Whatever we struggle with, practicing self-compassion can help us make headway on our goals and aspirations. Science is showing that the path to a happier and more fulfilled life starts with growing an attitude of kindness.”

The more you fuel your own voice of kindness and empowerment, the less you give power to the other voice of harshness and shame. This is one of the 5 habits that build real self-confidence.

5. Start a Daily Self-gratitude Journaling Habit

It was Rumi, the Persian poet from the 13th century, who wrote: “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.”

This still holds true today.

I’m an advocate of integrating the conscious practice of gratitude into your daily morning journaling and evening journaling sessions. Recently though, I’ve noticed that I’m beginning to write down things about myself that I’m truly grateful for.

Here are some examples:

  • ‘Even though I woke up late this morning, I still stuck to my schedule and had a very productive day.’

  • ‘I’m grateful for my patience and mental strength over the past few months. I feel like I’ve grown much more patient and resilient.’

  • ‘I’m enjoying writing and I’m thankful to have it as my creative outlet.’

So here’s an idea:

Why don’t you start a daily self-gratitude journaling habit? 

Every day you can write down one thing about yourself that you’re grateful for. You’re simply taking the time to acknowledge the success that’s manifesting in your life thanks to your continued effort and commitment.

This positive self-talk can be considered as an extension of the practice of self-compassion. And if you don’t feel comfortable being nice to yourself, then let me ask you this: If you complement other people, don’t you deserve to compliment yourself?

What Matters to You

Being hard on yourself and beating yourself up isn’t helpful. In fact, it might be one of the reasons why you’re stuck where you are today.

You can silence your inner critic and dim its power over you by becoming more mindful, imagining a silly character voicing it, comparing yourself to no one but you, practicing self-compassion, and starting a self-gratitude journal.

When you learn how to limit self-criticism, you automatically offset its negative effects on you. This then allows you to break-free from your limiting beliefs, achieve your highest potential, and find more contentment in your life.

As Ram Dass wrote:

“You can’t build joy on a feeling of self-loathing.”

Now, imagine: What would your life look like without that negative voice inside you?

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