Everyone has one, right? That harsh inner voice that criticizes, judges or berates you. The one that gives you a hard time or says you are a failure, that you’re not good enough or successful enough and the voice that makes you feel stupid if you make a mistake. The inner critic can wear you down and make you feel depressed or anxious; it can also damage your self esteem and affect your feelings of self worth. So why do we have this voice inside us?
The Inner Critic is a sub-personality within our Ego. The Ego has many different characters, such as the Inner Child, the Rebel etc. The Inner Critic’s persona has usually formed from our early conditioning by ‘absorbing’ other people’s projections, fears and limitations. We have also ‘swallowed’ their judgements, beliefs and negative comments, known as introjects and made them the reality of the Inner Critic. We don’t like this ‘negative’ part of ourself; we see it as an enemy in terms of our personal growth. So people just try to ignore it, others repress it by thinking positively or saying positive affirmations but these are only temporary ways of silencing the Inner Critic. There is a well known saying that goes ‘Whatever we resist will persist.’ So what’s the answer?
The answer is to BEFRIEND your Inner Critic!
How do you do that?
Here are seven steps to start the befriending process:
1: Visualize your Inner Critic as a character; give it a name that reflects its persona NOW, for example Moaning Minnie, Judge John or Nagging Nora .
2: Give your Inner Critic an opportunity to express everything its feeling or thinking and write its response down in a journal or record it so you can play it back afterwards.
3: Reread or play back what has been said. When have you heard these things being said before? Whose voices are you actually hearing? Was it your teacher from school who called you stupid or a boss that said you were a failure or not good enough? Was it a judgement about your behaviour from your parents, or a comment about your looks from a jealous friend? Becoming aware of whose voices are in there can help you to discern where and when these critiques began.
4: Next, check out the ‘reality’ or validity of these negative thoughts or beliefs. E.g. if I’m stupid, how is it that I ended up getting my Degree? If I’m such a failure, how do I get a good performance related bonus every year? This will help you to communicate with your Inner Critic from a place of empowerment rather than disempowerment.
5:Thank your Inner Critic for helping you to recognise those thoughts and feelings that are simply not true and are based on other people’s opinions and projections. If these criticisms are also self generated, thank your Inner Critic for highlighting to you that you need to work on self-love and self-worth.
6: Begin with being compassionate to yourself and to your Inner Critic. Now change your Inner Critic’s name to reflect this compassion or help, e.g. Messenger Minnie, Jabber John or Nudging Nora.
7: Then imagine giving this part of you a hug and telling it that you will heal all of its judgments through self-love and compassion. Commit to this self healing journey together, even if there is an initial reaction, friendships can sometimes have a rocky start! The Inner Critic has been a prominent figure in your mind for a long time; it may take a little time before this sub-personality takes a back seat. You are going to have to do a decluttering and detox process from all the negative beliefs and thoughts that the Inner Critic has accumulated over the years. It may take a bit of inner work and self awareness but the results will be worth it!