Tame the nagging voice within

 Happy woman hugs her dog

Ah, the inner critic: Always commenting on every little thing you do. We can be so hard on ourselves, criticizing and judging ourselves in ways that we would never do to people we care about.

Over the next few weeks, practice noticing the voice of your inner critic as you go about your daily life. (You might even give it a nickname: “Meanie” sounds about right.)

Try this:

Ask yourself: If someone were actually standing next to me and saying the same things, what would I do? You’d probably (rightfully) be annoyed, and respond with something like, Thanks anyway, but I’m leaving now.

Without getting sucked into a debate with your inner critic, each time you notice it, pause and do this: Breathe in, recognize the voice of criticism, and what it’s saying about you or doing to your emotional state. Just acknowledge it without trying to change the experience. This is how I feel right now: tired and insecure and angry.

And, then, let it go. Breathe out, I’m letting this feeling go. Instead of wrestling with self-judgment, see it for what it is, and turn your attention somewhere more useful. Focus only on the sensation of breathing as best as you can, without trying to change anything. Then, wish yourself well, like you would a close friend who was struggling. Imagine relief and ease with each exhale.



This copyrighted information is courtesy of Mindful.org and developmental pediatrician Mark Bertin.

Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. August 2019.

Mindful, healthy mind, healthy life

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or other coverage documents. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.