We each have an inner critic who lets us know everything we’re not doing good enough.
This inner critic is stronger in some of us than others.
Your inner critic may be screaming in your ear and making every day a living hell, or it may only emerge during moments of crisis with a fatal whisper…
“I told you that you’ll never find somebody who’s right for you…”
“You know you’re not good enough, see?”
Over the years I’ve battled my inner critic and made huge progress.
Here are the top ways your inner critic holds you back and deludes you into doubting yourself…
1) Making you feel inferior
There’s plenty to criticize in anyone if you look hard enough, just like there’s a lot to praise.
Your inner critic only has one objective:
To focus on your flaws and make you feel like crap about them.
The inner critic often draws its power from early childhood trauma and doubts about your worth that were pushed into you early on.
You may feel like you’re just plain not “good enough” in a way that’s hard to define, and this inner critical voice seems to confirm it every step of the way.
2) Making you say sorry all the time
When you feel inferior, you say sorry a lot.
Your inner critic gets you to focus on all the ways you’re an inconvenience and bother to those around you.
It gets to the point you may feel like you’re apologizing for even taking up oxygen and existing.
This is when it’s clear a huge change needs to take place and your inner critic needs to be told to sit down and shut up.
In addition to saying sorry too much your inner critic pushes you into the following…
3) People-pleasing and being a yes-man/yes-woman
People-pleasing is the behavior of a person who puts their wellbeing in making others happy.
It’s a transference of responsibility and a codependent trait that the inner critic can create.
When the inner critic is too strong, it convinces you to turn to others for validation.
What better way than to make others happy and get their validation that you’re worth something that way?
Well, the problem is that no matter how many people you please and how much, they’ll never be able to give you that inner sense of worth you crave.
4) Being afraid to express your real thoughts and opinions
When your inner critic is dominant it’s like suffering under censorship.
Except in this case it’s not Big Brother or some tyrant censoring you, it’s you.
You don’t want to say what you really believe if it’s not popular…
You feel the need to push down feelings that could be misunderstood, to talk the way other people do, to dress in a way that’s seen as cool or professional or whatever the trend may be…
You’re scared to be yourself in case it’s judged in a way that confirms your feelings of low self-worth.
This relates directly to the next issue with having a strong inner critic…
5) Feeling an urge to hide any ways you are different or strange
We’re all different in various ways, but those with a strong inner critic try their best to hide it.
If this is you then you know the tremulous feeling inside when you don’t really want anybody to see that you are unique.
Instead of being proud of your own unique style, appearance, worldview and experiences, you try to blend it all down into a marketable format.
You do your best to come across as a “type” and not be yourself:
Messy, weird, perhaps controversial or rebellious, or even boring in some ways!
No, you need to hide it, you need to be something better, something more, something other than what you really feel like being.
As a result…
When you don’t feel good enough about yourself, you inevitably go out in search of people to tell you that you’re great.
6) Seeking the validation and approval of others
Seeking the validation and approval of others is a deeply insecure behavior.
Your inner critic isn’t impressed much no matter how many people tell you how wonderful you are.
The critic just ignores any praise you get and contradicts it immediately.
“You’re such a caring, handsome guy,” your girlfriend says.
“You’re such a pushover nice guy,” your inner critic scoffs in response.
As a result, you go seeking more and more approval and validation hoping to drown out the inner critic.
But the more you get the more it doesn’t touch that deep inner wound where the inner critic languishes and mocks you.
7) Inability to enjoy your own company and solitude
When your inner critic is extremely strong it’s very hard to enjoy your own company or solitude.
This is easy to understand:
How would any of us like to sit in a room with an ill-tempered, sadistic drill sergeant shouting mockingly in our ear about what a piece of sh*t we are?
It would get old fast and be very demoralizing.
8) Dwelling on past mistakes and missteps
Your inner critic tends to ignore everything great in your past and your outstanding accomplishments.
Instead, it’s all about what went wrong or places where you got confused and screwed up.
The breakup you regret…
The disastrous business decision that happened because you acted too impulsive…
What’s even worse is that your inner critic doesn’t just falsely convince you that your own mistakes in the past were the worst ever…
It also convinces you that anything which goes wrong in your life is because of you.
9) Blaming yourself for disappointments outside your control
Your inner critic is like a one track record:
It just replays the same familiar accusations.
“You’re not good enough, you’ll never succeed, you’ll always be alone, nobody really likes you, nobody understands you, you don’t fit it, everything you try goes wrong.”
These accusations are very hurtful, but they’re not true.
One of the worst is the idea that things out of your control which don’t go wrong are your fault, and you can get so down in life that you start to truly believe it.
This is especially true in failed relationships or other situations where you’re truly just not that compatible.
You blame yourself for something that just wasn’t meant to be, and close yourself off to future opportunities by giving into that destructive inner critic.
This ties directly into the next point…
10) Avoiding risks and urging you to always play it safe
Risks are part of life, and sometimes taking no risk is the biggest risk of all.
But the inner critic is a fearful voice stuck in doubt and sabotage.
It believes that you have to hide from the world, from your own inadequacy, from the judgment of others.
It urges you to keep your head down, avoid eye contact and just do the bare minimum:
Play it safe and you’ll stay safe!
Nothing could be further from the truth, actually…
On a related note…
11) Clinging to perfectionism and using it as an excuse never to start in the first place
Your inner critic often demands perfection:
Perfection from yourself, from a situation, from others around you, from opportunities that come your way.
This is clearly unrealistic.
Everything is flawed or inconsistent in some way, and even the perfect plan can get interrupted or thrown off course by the unexpected.
By doing this, your inner critic convinces you never to even take the first step!
This is the ultimate self-sabotage, and it’s crucial to keep in mind that the perfect is the enemy of the good.
12) Never being satisfied with your accomplishments
When you do end up taking small risks or getting over this perfectionism, you’re never satisfied.
Your inner critic tells you that whatever you’ve done (no matter how remarkable) is really “nothing” or really no big deal…
This was maybe just a lucky break if anything…
The inner critic points out famous and prominent individuals who’ve done so much more than you.
You’re left feeling like you just can’t win, no matter what you do.
13) Selling yourself a story in which you are bad, flawed, doomed or cursed
Your inner critic can spin a very convincing story.
This voice isn’t you, but it’s a manifestation of your subconscious fears, sadnesses and insecurities.
It’s what psychoanalysis Carl Jung called the “shadow”.
The inner critic isn’t bad, it’s just stuck in a very early, fearful stage of development in which it gets obsessed with fears of inadequacy.
Your inner critic will have you convinced you’re uniquely flawed, cursed or damaged in ways beyond repair which nobody else could ever relate to or understand…
The truth is that many, many people can and do understand because they’re going through the same thing with that nagging inner critic and self-sabotage, too!
Don’t give up!