June 8, 2022 7 Min Read
Should You Ignore or Listen to Your Inner Critic?
What kind of tone does your inner voice have? Is it positive and encouraging, or critical and tries to sabotage your progress by keeping you where you are? Knowing when to listen or ignore your inner critic can be challenging—especially when you’re trying to make decisions. Luckily, you can discover its motivations with a few simple strategies, enabling you to determine the best next step forward in your life.
1. Review Your Core Values
Getting to the root of your beliefs—your core values—will help you better understand how your inner critic is behaving. If what you are thinking aligns with your values, then you can be more confident in listening to that voice, according to Coach Carolina Perez Sanz.
But if you realize your inner critic is creating dissonance or discord in your beliefs, then it may be the right move to ignore those critical thoughts and move through the discomfort of change to live your values.
Exploring different perspectives until you find the one that resonates with you will help you teach your critical inner voice to work in your best interest.
2. Take Your Time
When you need to make important decisions, you don’t want to have to rush into anything. By taking time to pause and reflect, you give yourself an opportunity to let your ideas percolate, which enables you to develop a deeper understanding of your needs or wants, says Coach Jean Sheridan.
You can make pausing even more effective by stepping away from the situation for a little. Sometimes getting some distance will help you gain perspective to see if your inner voice is guiding you in the right direction, or inhibiting your growth.
Talking through your internal questioning with a trusted friend can help you view your thoughts through a different lens and dig deeper because their questions might help reveal the reasons behind your negative thoughts.
3. Hear Your Body
While your critical inner voice may “lie” to you to stop you from stepping outside of your comfort zone as a means to protect you in a safe and established mindset, your body will always tell the truth.
For example, you might feel tension in your shoulders, neck, or jaw when thinking about one path. Or, you may feel butterflies and excitement in your belly when thinking of another opportunity. Listen as Coach Rebecca Arsena expands on this notion:
Also known as the mind-body connection, or referred to as “intuition,” “perception,” or “gut reaction,” associating your thoughts with your feelings is a tool you can use to know when to listen to or ignore that voice in your head.
4. Accept Uncertainty
Wouldn’t it be nice if you just knew you were making the right choice? Unfortunately, as Coach Haley Smith notes, it doesn’t entirely work that way. And it’s important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Many people are tempted to listen to their critical inner voice because it seemingly presents our options as “right” or “wrong,” rather than just as two different paths to take.
Next time you find yourself facing your critical inner voice, remember it’s not necessarily telling you the “truth,” and often, it’s acting as a mechanism to keep you safe (i.e. not do anything new). By understanding what your values are, taking your time to make a decision, listening to your body, and accepting that there are many “right” answers, you can make the decision that is best for you. Embrace uncertainty, connect with others to gain perspective, and utilize the challenge as an opportunity to learn about yourself and grow.