Freedom from Your Inner Critic: Part I

If your inner critic has too much power, isn’t it time to find out exactly who and/or what this voice really is?

TWO SIMPLE PRACTICES WILL HELP SHED LIGHT ON THE TRUE ORIGINS OF THIS VOICE— AND YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE THE CHOICE TO HEED IT, OR IGNORE IT.

  • They are: meditation, which helps you recognize this voice and become aware of the power you’ve given it; and self inquiry, which helps you identify the role this voice is playing in your life.
  • Knowing this will help give you the opportunity to disengage from this voice.

RECOGNIZE THIS VOICE

A great tool to help achieve this understanding is meditation (see guided meditation steps in previous blog). As you embark on your practice of meditation, keep in mind that one of the first (and possibly most shocking) things you will notice is how noisy your internal world can be! However, with some guidance one can quickly discern between harmless inner dialogue and the inner critic — that persistent voice that is so quick to judge.

Some of the thoughts in our mind play a critical role in helping us manage our lives, but the inner critic has no redeeming qualities. It’s quick to comment on all aspects of our lives — the way we dress, the friends we have, our jobs, our level of fitness, how we look. And by its forceful, critical tone one would think it commands tremendous authority.

Indeed, for some people, it rules their lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. Ideally, we would simply be able to change the channel and never hear this voice again. But in reality there is no ‘off’ switch.

THE GOAL, FIRST, IS SIMPLY TO RECOGNIZE THIS VOICE.

That persistent critic with an opinion about what we should or shouldn’t be doing, what’s right and wrong, what our experience should look like in this moment. And, if things don’t measure up, what that says about ourselves and our life choices.

It’s where we daydream, it’s the place we escape to, it’s how we have learned to distract ourselves from our lives. Please do not get me wrong — the mind is an amazing tool — but often we misuse and abuse it. This is a great shame as it is one of our greatest gift.

THE SECOND STEP IS TO DISENGAGE FROM IT.

To put this in plain English, we are going to fire its sorry arse!

More often than not, we assume the inner critic is just us, it’s our inner voice that tells us what we should be doing. It can even be seen as necessary as it guides us in what’s right and wrong and motivates us to reach new goals.
 
More often than not this ‘support’ comes with threats about what will happen to us if we do not listen to it e.g. if we do not do it no one will like us. The goals/targets that it sets just keep getting higher and higher. This voice will never be satisfied – it is a setup and we will always fail. It can be very scary to go against the advice of this inner critic but it is vital if we are to truly grow.
 
I am not suggesting that you go to war against this voice, but you will benefit from finding a way to disengage from it. You will also see there is a relationship between your inner critic and your inner kid.

GUIDED MEDITATION TO UNDERSTAND YOUR INNER CRITIC

Step 1 — Find a quiet place to sit – Sit in a position that is relaxed and at the same time alert.  Gently begin to follow your breath.

Step 2 —Imagine what it feels like to be the inner critic — feel and sense into the inner critic and really try to embody that character who always knows what’s right and wrong. You may notice it feels big, strong, powerful, right and important.

Take a moment to listen to how the voice sounds and feels. Write down in your journal what you experience; you could also draw what the inner critic looks like.

Step 3 —Take a moment to come back to yourself. Notice your breath allow yourself to follow it in and out. Do this for a few minutes, allowing the sense of the inner critic to clear.

Step 4 – Now take a moment to connect with your inner kid – feel and sense into that part of yourself. How does this feel? How is this different from the inner critic? Does he/she feel small do they feel strong or big?

Now ask the inner kid how it see the inner critic, if they feel safe and what their relationship looks like. Often it is not a good one, much like the relationship between the bully in the playground and the small kids they like to pick on.

Step 5 –Now take a moment to come back to yourself, notice your breath allow yourself to follow it in and out do this for a few minutes allowing the sense of the inner kid to clear.

Step 6 —Now allow yourself to imagine what your life would look like if you were no longer under the influence of the inner critic. What would you be doing, who would you be with, where would you live, what job would you have? Write some of these observations in your journal.

Lets us know in the comment boxes below what this experience was like for you.

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