Your inner critic, or the most important relationship in your life
We’ve known each other for some time. As casual acquaintances. He would show up from time to time – sometimes to drop in just for a moment, sometimes to stay for longer. He preferred to come at night. After each get together, I knew I was lost big time. He overpowered me. I couldn’t get him out of my head. There were times when I simply couldn’t live without him. I felt that he was taking control of my life.
I knew he was calling the shots in this relationship. But I couldn’t do anything about it. I knew I wasn’t able to let him go any time soon. Until one day, I made a decision. I decided to get rid of him. I was ready to do everything to get him out of my life. So I started to fight him. I fought so fiercely that I lost all my strength. He beat me again. He came out on top. Once again, he got me.
My inner critic
You probably think I am talking about a toxic relationship, don’t you? Or some kind of bondage between a man and a woman? Or unrequited love? That’s totally not what I meant to describe here. I am talking about my inner critic. Taming that critical inner voice that keeps you from changing is definitely not easy. But I know it’s worth trying. How to do it?
How to tame your inner critic?
As usual, in the areas you want to work on, it’s good to start from expanding your self-awareness, in particular noticing the moment when you start to hear the voice of the inner critic. You can also write down the exact words the critic says, what emotions that triggers in you and what you do (or not do) after hearing such message. The next step is to learn to talk with your negative voice. Below you will find three strategies that will help you come into dialogue with it. But before you go into action, there’s one more thing we need to make clear.
Your inner critic is always part of you
And that’s why I think that trying to silence that critical inner voice completely isn’t necessarily good for you. If you do get rid of him for good, it’s like you lose a part of yourself. It might be worth to go easy on him. Who knows, maybe he sends you these overly critical messages because he wants to protect you from something.
3 strategies to embrace your inner critic
When your inner critic makes himself a bit too much comfortable in your head and blocks you from realizing your deepest desires, you can choose one of three strategies to dialogue with him.
- 1. Only facts, no judging. When you hear “you’re not going to tackle that new task” again, first take a deep breath and, before you believe those words, consider the actual facts. Remind your inner critic about other tasks you successfully handled, about your assets and your achievements.
- 2. Empathic behaviour. When the critic tells you off again and you’ve got enough of him, just try to hug yourself. Tell yourself that it is normal to hear negative voices in your head sometimes and that they don’t have to mean anything to you. Still, you can check whether your inner critic doesn’t want to warn you from something or protect you from some kind of danger.
- 3. When the ways I mentioned above don’t seem to work, you can simply direct your anger towards the critic. I am not going to use swear words in this article, but you can sure let yourself go on a spree and tell your inner critic what you think of him.
The above strategies can be used interchangeably, depending on which strategy seems more appealing to you. Remember that…
“Fear feeds on darkness”
… which means that until you bring your inner critic to light, he will grow bigger and bigger and keep eating you up. It’s a bit like a rat you hear squeaking in the wall void. You are afraid of it, but as soon as you dazzle it with a beam of light, the rat will freeze and run away. Best of luck in taming your inner critic!