A Basic Meditation to Tame Your Inner Critic

An in-the-moment exercise for confronting the nagging voice in your head.

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Nearly everyone recognizes the inner critic, that judgemental voice inside us that heckles and cuts us down. Whatever we do isn’t enough.

Reasoning with our inner tyrant validates it as if it deserves our attention, when mostly its just an unhelpful pattern of thinking we’ve picked up along the way.

This push for perfect is exhausting, but often avoidable with practice. Rationalizing with what is basically an irrational habit doesn’t help much. The inner critic is like the old two guys on the Muppet Show endlessly deriding whatever happens without reason at all. Reasoning with our inner tyrant validates it as if it deserves our attention, when mostly its just an unhelpful pattern of thinking we’ve picked up along the way.

A Guided Meditation to Quiet the Inner Critic

A Basic Meditation to Tame Your Inner Critic

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  1. To start this mindfulness practice, begin by focusing on breathing. Notice the physical sensation of breathing in, and then breathing out as best as you’re able.
  2. Find yourself a posture of ease and strength.
  3. However you’re feeling right now, leave things alone for the next few moments. Your attention wanders and then comes back to breathing in and breathing out.
  4. For many of us this is already enough to bring self judgement to mind. You may immediately start thinking “I’m not very good at this” or “I should do this more often.” But for this brief practice today, reflect on somewhere in life you do feel judged. At school, at work, as a parent or as a child.
  5. Notice first how judgement is more than a single thought—it may affect how you feel, with tension or unease somewhere in your body, it may influence your emotional state.
  6. Then, notice where your thoughts go when experiencing this kind of self criticism, and the patterns you fall into under this kind of stress.
  7. Now for the next few minutes, practice leaving that voice of judgement, that inner critic alone. Stop wrestling with is or appeasing it, or pushing it away. Label it if you want, or even give it a specific name if you prefer. Recognize what it feels like to you, and then let it be.
  8. On each in breath, acknowledge whatever you’re experiencing right now in your body, your emotions, your thoughts, nothing to fix or change, this is what’s going on right now. And on each out breath, offer yourself relief. Wish yourself what you would a close friend with the same doubts.
  9. Breathing out, wishing yourself relief or strength or humour or joy or anything else that feels appropriate. Breathing in, this is how things are, breathing out focusing on ease or whatever else comes to mind.
  10. Wish yourself well, not because you deserve it more than anyone else, but because you deserve it as much as anyone else.