“We need to understand that our inner critic is not there to cause havoc. It’s not here with the intention of being deceitful and limiting.. the inner critic has a good intention, to protect us, to keep us safe.”~ Maria Pellicano
How many times have you been told that you have the power to do absolutely anything?
Perhaps you entertained the possibilities for a while, dreaming about all the things that you might spend your time doing.. Then, out of the dreaming, comes a voice from within your head.. it provides a list of reasons why you can’t actually do what it is you’re dreaming of why you’re not good enough, or talented enough, or pretty enough..
This inner critic that emerges from within our minds is the work of what is termed, the ‘Inner Critic’. The inner critic is an inner voice that we all have, chattering away in our heads. It’s a voice that speaks the language of that which we have learnt, usually from early childhood. The voices may take on the words of a parent, teacher or sibling and are a way that we can process our experiences of the world.
The sad thing is that most of us spend our lives believing that this inner critic is who we are.. we listen to the voice.. believe the voice and make our decisions based on what it tells us.
The voice comes from our minds, so who can tell us that it’s not right? As a result, we spend our lives believing that we are limited.. that we are not good enough, talented enough, pretty enough.. ‘replace the word’ enough..
Besides just believing the voice, our inner critic has other effects.. When we believe these thoughts, we can become anxious and our bodies can freeze, we can lose our thoughts, become breathless or our voices start to quiver.
The good news is that we don’t have to continue this pattern of following our inner critic. Awareness and understanding can help us to move forward and discover a whole world of possibilities that lie beyond that which our inner critic has led us to believe.
Where to begin understanding your inner critic?
To begin, we need to understand that our inner critic is not there to cause havoc. It’s not here with the intention of being deceitful and limiting.. the inner critic has a good intention, to protect us, to keep us safe. For example, you might have the need to perform some public speaking.
As you are getting ready to get on the stage, you notice your inner critic telling you that you’re not prepared and you can’t do this.. As a result, your body kicks into fight or flight.. you have the urge to run out of the room. The reason for this, is that your inner critic is trying to protect you from embarrassment, attack or failure, it’s not a negative function in itself.
As we understand this, we can begin to notice the patterns. When we hear the voice of this inner critic, we can discover the good intentions that lie behind and begin to create some separation between ourselves and the inner critic.
The more we discover about our inner critic, the more we can realise that we have a choice.. We can believe the words that we are being told and become the belief, or we can begin to use the voice as a tool, as guidance for navigating life situations.
Using our inner voice to guide us
An important note to remember, as mentioned earlier, is that our inner voice has a good intention to keep us safe.. Our inner critic is not an enemy to be extinguished! If we didn’t have an inner voice, we would be taking endless risks, without thought of the consequences.. Most likely, our lives would be very short-lived.
The key is, turning the process around, so that our inner voices can be a tool.. a roadmap.. to lead us to the destination we are wanting to go. The voice becomes an ally, helping us to move forward, rather than an enemy, fighting us at every turn.
For a moment, think about all the amazing things you could experience, achieve or appreciate, if your inner voice was to become an ally in your life journey.
What are some of the things that you might like to experience, that maybe you didn’t feel like you could previously?
How to Befriend Your Inner Critic and Enjoy Life Once Again
Below are 4 effective ways to befriend your inner critic and learn to enjoy life once again.
1. Do not judge this inner critic voice in your head
Because it has a positive intention of keeping you alive and valued. Instead accept where you’re at. Accept what is going on in your life and be mindful.
This will help you build the confidence to accept your whole self. All the good, functioning parts that are still wanting to be nurtured and healed.
2. Practice mindful moments of spaciousness
Thoughtlessness, presence where you can stop and observe the inner critic, know that it is there and be able to speak to it, ask this part of you for the best intention it has.
3. Attend to your inner self
Practice self-compassion and be patient – it takes time to address your inner critic and to find purpose in your life so you can feel confident when you speak to people.
Judge yourself or others because we are all unique and we all experience a shadow self, inner critic however we all manage this in different ways. To be confident means you have accepted both your strengths and weaknesses.
You are always improving and be happy to be just the way you are in the NOW moment. Don’t strive for perfection as this is only fear. Perfection is an illusion that has you chasing your tail and never arriving in a peaceful state.