I want to share a very common scenario my patients describe, that you might also relate to, and some ideas on what to do about it. On your own. Right now!

Patients often tell me they have no energy or motivation to do things during the day, because they are exhausted from constantly feeling guilty and beating themselves up about something -- something they logically know isn’t their fault, yet kept blaming themselves for. Then they’ll think, “Why can’t I stop beating myself up?!”, which just makes it happen even more. For hours and hours, days on end!

Does this frustrating cycle sound familiar to you? Do you also struggle to get off this sadistic merry-go-ground? We’ve all heard of positive self-talk, but that’s not so useful and often rings false when we don’t address the root of the problem. 

In my opinion, a helpful way you can work with your inner critic is to:

  • Recognize “who” the critic is, when they started harassing you, and separate him/her/it from you. Does the critic have a gender? Who in your life, past or present, does the critic remind you of? Maybe the critic has a name. Identifying the critic as “mom”, “dad”, “Drill Sergeant Daniels”, or “Ms. Trunchbull” often helps hammer home the point that the self-sabotage did not originate with you. Aka, it’s not all your fault!
  • Ask yourself why the critic is so vocal. What’s the purpose of his or her endless tirades? What was going on in your life when the critic stepped in? More likely than not, they started by trying to help and protect you. This is the best way they know how to help you. Unfortunately, they are a one-dimensional, one-track voice who doesn’t see the destructive effect on your mood and self-esteem. Here’s a question the critic has never asked himself or herself: What good is achievement without self-acceptance and happiness?? Fortunately, it’s a question you can start asking yourself now.
  • Realize that identifying the times that the critic is talking is actually the first step in feeling better. Remember that it’s been years since the critic started talking, and it will likely take a while to get to a comfortable, healthy place. But don’t despair! The process will likely take much less time because you are no longer on auto-pilot, and you know what to do. Practice speaking back to the critic every chance you get, in a kind but firm way. The way that you’d like to be talked to. Some days may be harder than others. You may not be conscious of the critic’s presence every time. That’s okay. You will get better at it as you go.

Have you tried this technique? If so, how was your experience? I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas regarding what worked best for you. Feel free to leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: All blog content is intended for information only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Using, accessing, or browsing this website does not create a physician-patient relationship between you and Dr. Masifi or any site contributors.