You know that voice inside of your head that always pipes up when you’ve done something – anything – that you are a bit unsure of?
The voice that always tells you what you should have done – or shouldn’t have done – or how you should have done it differently. And on and on. And on.
You know. The voice that says:
“You never do things right!”
“You don’t deserve anything good!”
“You aren’t ‘good enough’!”
That voice is your Inner Critic.
It’s not that you have an Inner Critic that matters though because we all have one. It’s how much energy you give to that voice. My goal for you is that you get a little bit less wound up in what that voice has to say!
My Inner Critic and I are old friends. She has seen me through thick and thin, high and low, in and out, good and bad. She’s always there, offering me her special type of information.
Sometimes, I start to believe that my Inner Critic is a dinosaur: long extinct, long ago buried below rocks and dirt. Then suddenly, out of the blue, she raises her head and starts her negative chorus, and I realize she’s just been laying low, waiting to catch me off guard.
Then she says to me, “YOU can’t get rid of me! I am always going to be with you to show you the facts of who you are.”
Each of us is our own worst critic. You know more about yourself than anyone else, so anyone complimenting you obviously doesn’t know what they are talking about; they don’t have all the facts. Sound familiar?
What I have learned over time is that your Inner Critic is really the voices of fear and self-doubt. And that most of what is being said is not true.
She’s NOT showing me the facts – just the fearful spin of negative emotions.
It’s time to loosen the grip of your Inner Critic on your life.
And that is done by making your Inner Critic a friend instead of the enemy!
The first step to making friends with your Inner Critic is to get to know it. Start by giving him or her a name.
My Inner Critic’s name is Matilda the Hun, and yes, she does pillage and burn my inner pastoral landscapes.
Then just think about how that Inner Critic tends to show up for you:
- How do you feel when your Inner Critic is criticizing you?
- How do you look at yourself when the Inner Critic says you are worthless?
- What phrases do you hear when the Inner Critic is around?
- What long-past shame or guilt does the Inner Critic sniff out?
Finally, create an image (on paper is best, but at least in your mind) of what your Inner Critic looks like. Putting a face on your Inner Critic will make it come into sharper focus for you.
It also helps move the Inner Critic away from you. Once the Inner Critic is on a piece of paper, it is easier to see it as separate from you rather than a part of you that directs your thoughts.
Naming your Inner Critic and giving it an image are important parts of ungluing it from your identity.
Don’t just “banish” your Inner Critic.
If that is how you approach dealing with your Inner Critic, you will always have a part of yourself paying attention and waiting for the Critic’s voice.
When you do that, part of you is always looking for it, unconsciously calling to it, and losing lots of energy and time that could be better used in positive directions.
And, when that kind of attention is given to anything, it shows up sooner or later.
It developed as a way to protect you from hurting yourself (think childhood), but eventually it developed into a total naysayer as you began to hear more criticism from the world around you and to compare yourself to others.
It you can make friends with your Inner Critic instead of fighting it, you can again count on it as just a voice that may remind you not to hurt yourself.
Here is the most important point about what goes on in your head hat you may not realize…
Just because you think or feel something, does not make it true.
A feeling is not a fact; it’s just a feeling. A thought is not a fact, it’s just a thought.
There may be a very good reason for a particular thought or feeling and it’s often helpful to explore what that is.
But don’t believe everything you think and feel. Or everything that Inner Critic has to say.
You make up things all the time to try to make the world and other people make sense. And your Inner Critic may be working overtime making things up in its misguided attempts to keep you safe!
Your defense against your Inner Critic then is to make friends. The voice is there to stay, it may even be useful to you – just learn to deal with what it says in a new way.
What would give you and your Inner Critic a more peaceful relationship? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.