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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

3 Steps to Silence the Inner-Critic

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Oct 29th 2012

silenceHere’s a question we all need to have in our vocabulary. Life is tough at times and that’s just a reality. What’s also an unfortunately reality is that what comes along with the difficult moments is an unrelenting self-critic that continues to kick us while we’re down. There are a couple things we need to understand about this bad habit in order to begin reversing it. 

First, this self-critic is a conditioned response that’s been practiced and repeated over time and has now become so convincing that you actually believe it when it comes up. Sometimes it might tell you that that your dreams can never be reached, other times that you’ll never get better or that no one can help you. Whatever the story it’s telling, it’s just a conditioned reaction. 

What was once learned can be unlearned. 

  1. Categorize it - It’s critical to categorize this voice, maybe call it the self-critic, the monster or name it for what it really is a part of you that’s trying to keep you safe, but with a bad strategy. 

  2. Note it - Now, make it a regular practice to note it when it comes in and acknowledge that this is hard. 

  3. Ask it - Now pair the noting with acknowledging that this is hard and then the question, “What is it that I truly need right now?” 

That’s it, those 3 steps if practiced and repeated and condition a new healthy reactivity that can begin to over time neutralize the self-critic.

It will go something like this. 

Something triggers the self-critic and the snap judgment arises, “I knew I’d fall into this trap again, I’m so weak, nothing’s ever going to change.” Moments later a new voice arises… “Oh, there it goes again” as the hand comes to the heart and it continues, “What is it that I need right now?” The answer shortly follows, “A little self-care.” 

A deep exhale continues as you sit in recognition of just getting trapped in some old cycles of self-criticism now paired with self-compassion. 

Life is a practice and it’s worthwhile weaving these three steps into it to silence the inner-critic.  

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Knowledge versus Practice - Jordan - Oct 31st 2012

    Thank you for this article. I was able to find compassion for myself and recognized its transformative effects for a couple months. In a moment of weakness I allowed my ego to take over and I have had a really difficult time trying to forgive myself. I felt like I had the knowledge that I needed to forgive but I was lacking the practice of forgiving. I still have a climb ahead of me if I am going to get out of this hole, but I feel like you have given me a tool that is going to help me find the way. May you continue to be blessed with the power to shepherd those of us that are seeking the path of enlightenment. 

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