Your inner critic sees you…do you see your inner critic?
If you have a personality…you have an inner critic.
One thing that is true for all of us, is that we all have one. If we have a personality, we have an inner critic and, while we don’t come in with one, we certainly come into adulthood with one, that may show up in many different shapes and sizes.
Dependent on our influencers (largely parents but also grandparents, siblings, etc) we develop our own unique brand of inner critic. Some of the classic markers are should’s and shouldn’ts, rights and wrongs, enough and not enough, goods and bads and of course, comparisons towards yourself and others. The result can be that we are afraid to try new things or go out of our comfort zones.
Our inner critics can be clever.
Inner critics often encourage us to be afraid, to work to stress and to operate from a place of self doubt. Sometimes it can be so clever that it makes us think it’s helping or supporting us, when it’s really keeping us small. And even that positive feedback can be from the inner critic, when it’s based on external rewards or comparisons.
It’s easy to think our inner critics are us.
We’ve become so used to the many messages of the inner critic, that we fall into the trap of thinking it’s us. But in truth, it’s not, in fact, usually an inner critic attack isn’t even the truth. It used to serve a purpose, but those purposes, such as keeping us safe, protecting us or even helping us to survive are usually no longer applicable to our life as an adult.
So what can we do?
The first thing is to become aware of your inner critic. See your inner critic. Awareness is a large part of loosening its grip.
What does it sound like, does it have a voice? Is it familiar, perhaps a particular voice from your childhood, such as a parent, a grandparent or a sibling? What does it feel like, is there an energetic sense to it, can we feel it in our bodies?
Does it have the sense of blame, shame, guilt, criticism or discouragement? Is the judgment coming from the outside beyond your nuclear family, from groups you may have been identified with, something in your environment when you were growing up such as a community, a religion, a culture?
Your inner critic may call on you to be a perfectionist, an over achiever. It can feel like an attack! The better you’re able to figure out where are the judgments coming from, and to identify any patterns, the more you’ll be able to deal with diminishing its power.
Your inner critic is unique.
Once you’re aware of the attack, what is it that you need to do to get some distance from it? What is the best strategy to deal with it? While we all have inner critics, remember yours is unique. So you have to find your particular ways of dealing with the different messages. And know, some may be easier to deal with than others and some may be very persistent, and even sly and cunning as you get close. What works one day, may not work the next.
So what are the best ways for you to deal with your inner critic? The methods may vary – from strong aggression, yelling and cursing to ridiculing, laughing at it, thanking it for its hard work, or simply recognizing the position it’s held for so long and giving it permission to retire.
It takes practice.
This may sounds simple, but know it’s not. It takes practice. But they say, anything worth learning, takes practice. The point is to figure out how to take away its power and to do what works best for you. Once you’ve begun to free yourself from the inner critic, and disengagement occurs, then the freedom becomes important to maintain.
What Michael Ray in his book “Creativity in Business”, recommends is the best antidote for the “voice of judgment is the voice of wisdom”. There are a few different dimensions to pay attention to in this new state.
Curious to see your inner critic?
First of all, it’s important to be “in the present”, not in the past or the future. We have to activate our minds, hearts and body. It’s important to be in a place of curiosity and wonder (yes, like a child) and a state of objectivity (yes, like a scientist). It’s important for our minds to be non-judgmental, non-assumptive, impartial, clear and constructive. Our hearts must be open – open to experiences and support. To be strong yet compassionate, with an accepting and appreciative stance.
Our bodies must be relaxed and in the flow, grounded with a sense of calm, and not attached to any specific physical, emotional or energetic states. And even after all of this, please know that our inner critics never disappear but they do loosen their stature and the influence, if we stay vigilant…we will begin to experience a new sense of freedom and recognize it is a lifelong practice.
If you are interested in exploring the relationship between you and your inner critic, contact Lyn at What Matters Coaching. Experience a new sense of freedom when you see your inner critic and open your heart.