“The most important battle you will fight is the one going on inside you – the real you versus your critical inner voice.” ~ Dr. Lisa Firestone
Your inner critic needs no introduction. It is that powerful and loud voice in your head that runs an incessant critical commentary on your every action, decision and choice. At one time or another, we have all experienced its withering judgments that can bully and completely crush self-worth.
The Inner Critic is never happy with your accomplishments or successes because, through its eyes, what you do and who you are is never perfect enough.
“You are a failure”, “You are too fat”, “You are stupid”, “You are ugly”, “You are too old”, “No one likes you because you aren’t loveable and nothing you do will ever change that”, “You are worthless”. Often, the signature language of your Critic also includes words like – ‘mistake…you should…you should not’.
It will mock and chastise you, compare you to others, point out your sins and ignore your successes. Over time, it begins to feel like a natural part of you who sees how completely wrong you really are. At its most damaging, it can stop your growth, prohibit healthy relationships, block success in your career and prevent you from living your life fully.
The critic is born out of numerous painful and shaming experiences and critical perspectives that you encounter as you grow up. You interpret those events to mean that there is something deeply flawed about you. It could be criticisms from parents (who often pass on their own unhealed critics), comparisons from teachers or negativity among friends. Whatever the source, these external voices and opinions become the destructive voices in your head that kill self-confidence and become your unconscious self-view in later life.
The Critic Can Do Harm Because It:
• Undermines creativity and destroys self-confidence
• Holds you back from taking risk for fear of failure
• Covers up our authentic goodness with negativity
• Dampens your natural enthusiasm and spirit
• Convinces you that you don’t matter and that you are wrong
• Is a relentless source of shame and inadequacy
• Can cause depression and exhaustion
The Constructive Side of Your Critic:
• Can be a significant ally when it is consciously used to improve and excel.
• Uses external painful moments as its guide to prevent you from being vulnerable to any further hurt, shame or embarrassment.
• Helps you improve self-discipline and focus when it is controlled by your awareness of its helpful suggestions.
The sad truth is, the Critic is never going away so it is vital to identify and find ways to deal with its messages that often leave you feeling hopeless and woefully inadequate. Here are some action steps to consider when you are under attack:
• Engage Breathwork to release its negativity and shaming messages. Let this profound work show you your value and Divinity. You are not who your critic sees.
• Stop comparing yourself to others. Find your own unique essence and honour that.
• Become aware of the Critic’s language. Take the time to consider a conscious course of positive action when you notice the word “should” in your thoughts.
• Don’t push the Critic away. Instead, take charge by becoming conscious of its judgmental and critical messages and turn down the volume.
• Pursue activities that are meaningful to you and are aligned with your values
• Allow the self-critical thoughts to ebb and flow. See them as temporary and manageable.
• Question vicious criticisms with countering positive responses such as “So what?” or “Is it true?” “Oh, but what if…I succeed?”
• Find ways to become self-empowered. Make a list of what you are good at, what your talents, skills and abilities are. Read it and add to it often.
• Cultivate self-respect by examining your values and living by them.
Take a step back when the Critic is raging inside you and let your heart become the witness to what you truly know yourself to be. Even with the Critic resident within you, it is possible to see the masterpiece of beauty and humanity that you are.
And God said “Love Your Enemy,” and I obeyed him and loved myself. ~ Khalil Gibran