Do you have a voice inside telling you that you are you not good enough, not smart enough, not capable enough, not pretty enough or not valuable enough?
That is your inner critic.
We all have a voice like that. For some, that voice is an occasional quiet whisper, whereas for others it is a constant roar, ceaselessly berating them.
The natural instinct is to do whatever you can to shut that voice up, or at least to turn down the volume. This has a lot to do with why so many people eat too much, shop too much, drink too much, work too much, or engage in a multitude of other excesses.
The unfortunate thing is that, in the long run, pushing something away doesn’t work. The more we deny something, the stronger it tends to get.
This is the principle in operation when you start to desperately crave chocolate cake after forbidding yourself to eat it. However hard and counter-intuitive it may seem, it is more effective in the long run to get comfortable with feeling the urge, without needing to eat the chocolate cake.
So it is with our inner critic. We need to get to know it, find out why it does what it does, and maybe even make friends with it.
The Two Volumes of the Inner Critic
The interesting thing about the inner critic is that it tends to have two volumes. If you start to listen to it, you may notice that it nags at you when you need to get day-to-day tasks done.
These are the commands that tell you, “You are a lazy slob. The least you can do is clean the house”. For some, these critical thoughts are rare, while for others they are nearly continual, using shame and fear to drive you to be productive.
If you pay close attention, you may also notice that the inner critic tends to get the loudest when you start to move toward the things that you really want.
When you meet a person who you are genuinely drawn to, the voice suddenly starts to shout at you about how uninteresting and ugly you are. When you finally go for your dream job, the voice starts to roar that you are incapable, useless, and most definitely not good enough.
Why is this so? Is it because we have these destructive parts of ourselves that want to harm us? Maybe we are all just so messed up that we actually wish ourselves ill?
Perhaps there is a much more positive explanation.
Research now tells us—and I’ve confirmed this time and again in my own life as well as my practice—these seemingly destructive parts of ourselves all have a positive purpose, a positive intention. No matter how strange it sounds, your inner critic is trying to help you.
It Is Trying to Help me?!?
If you are like most people, your inner critic was born when you were much younger, when you lived in a different environment and had far fewer resources available to you.
Probably, that was a time when you were not really seen and not valued for who you were. Like most of us, there were not many people, if anyone, to delight in you or to genuinely share in your sorrows and joys. The discouragement of being invisible in those kinds of ways would have been overwhelming to you.
So the inner critic took over.
It worked to keep you small, limited and inauthentic, so your real self could not be hurt anymore. It drove you to achieve the necessary day-to-day tasks so you could still function, despite needing to remain small and limited.
If you are able to feel the truth of this positive intention of your inner critic, you will discover genuine self-compassion. You will come to appreciate the effort this part of you has sustained in an attempt to keep you as safe as possible.
If you are able to stay in that compassionate, appreciative space for longer durations, you will find that your inner critic will become less and less active. Eventually, it may even transform into something overtly friendly and openly supportive.
If you would like to have some help with learning how to make peace with your inner critic, I invite you to call me at 250–515–2123 or use the pop-up box to schedule a free 15-minute consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!