We can give ourselves such a hard time. I’ll ask you to ponder on that previous sentence for a little while as it’s not something we think about very often, if at all. We become accustomed to that voice in our head that tells us in no uncertain terms that we aren’t good enough. Trouble is, if we don’t identify and separate from this inner-critic, it can take over our life and can shape our behaviour and impact on the direction of our life. It is a thief. Serious stuff huh?
Our inner critic can throw its two-bob worth in at any point throughout the day or night. It can be a bully and very hostile. Mouthy and loud, mean and nasty. Nag, nag, nag on it goes, pulling us up short for anything and everything. Some examples of this nagging may be…. You’re a crap parent! You’re not a good friend! Why can’t you make good decisions? You’re not very good at what you do! You didn’t get that promotion because……! You are ugly, fat, stupid, incompetent! Why would anybody be interested in you and what you have to say? You’re useless at making decisions! I could keep going…. the list is quite endless. The inner critic seems to have lots to say, none of it very positive or nurturing.
So, where did this inner critic come from?
Most people aren’t even aware they have an inner critic as the harsh judgements it makes have often been there with them since childhood, *“it develops early in lives, absorbing (or internalizing) the judgments of people and the expectations of the society in which they live”. We believe it, well, just because…. it’s been there forever, and therefore must be the truth.
What can we do to shush the inner critic?
Firstly, become aware of your thoughts, by saying STOP whether out loud, in a whisper, or in your own head. What is it your inner critic is saying to you? Is it being unkind? (Keep in mind that this inner-critic is not a reflection of reality, it is only a viewpoint. A viewpoint often instilled along life’s path, usually from early life experiences). Would you say anything of the sorts to a friend? If the answer to that question is no, then chances are your inner critic is being unkind to you.
Another way to identify that inner critic is to watch out for “you” or “I” statements i.e. you are never going to get that job! I’m never good at drawing! etc. etc.
- Respond with kindness
Next, THINK about this part of yourself that can be a tyrant. What does it need? Chances are it needs acknowledgement, compassion and kindness, from you. Put down your boxing gloves. Ask yourself some questions. Are you even in control of the things that your inner critic is banging on about? Are you allowed to make mistakes at all? Are you setting unreasonably high standards of yourself or the situation?
Then, write down some more compassionate evaluations of yourself instead.
Don’t be bullied by this inner critic, it isn’t your truth and it usually has nothing good to say anyway. Quieten that voice within, and the sky is literally the limit whether at home, work, in relationships, you name it! Take back your control.
This article has only just touched on this subject. Like anything worthwhile in life, responding to your inner critic can take practice and time but it can change your life. If you need support or assistance to work with your inner critic, get in touch via 0401 809 666, www.bymyside.net.au or Facebook www.facebook.com/Bymysideau
*Hal Stone, Ph.D. & Sidra Stone, Ph.D. Journal, Psychotherapy in Australia, 1994.