Love Yourself. Conquer the Inner Critic.
Through exploration and practice, I’ve come to understand the relationship between my inner critic and authentic self. This topic has come up in my work with clients, and I share my knowledge and techniques with them to foster healing, transformation, and change. Here are some of my thoughts and techniques for loving yourself, and conquering the inner critic.
Think about a time during the past few weeks when your inner critic came out to play. For the purposes of this talk, we’ll define inner critic as sides of self. Not in a “multiple personalities” sort of way, but in a way that will help identify sides of self that are hurting, need healing, or need attending to. When we don’t close the loop on past hurts, they manifest in our inner critic, causing ongoing suffering to self.
The first part of this activity will be to identify sides of self that manifest and turn into fuel for the inner critic: the hurt one, the jealous one, the impatient one, the angry one, the shopaholic, the indecisive one, the anxious one, the depressed one, the apathetic one, the cynic, and so on.
Take a moment to identify some character defects, sides of you that come out when you’re in a mood, or sides of you that you don’t particularly enjoy. Maybe start with three or four. Take some time to give them a name or a label that makes sense to you. This will help for the next part of the exercise.
Take a few deep, cleansing inhales and exhales. Now, let’s drop in to a state of safety, comfort and peace. Time to check in with our loving, authentic self. The side of self that is present when we are feeling relaxed, at peace, neutral, happy, grateful, or blessed. What characteristics would you use to label or name your authentic self? This side of us can act as a loving parent or coach when the inner critic shows up.
The authentic self is the side of self that we want in the forefront of our thinking when confronting our inner critic. We don’t want to rationalize, argue, or give in to what the inner critic is saying. And we need to recognize that the inner critic is still part of self, and worth our love and attention. Loving – kindness wins. We need to foster, feed, and grow our authentic, loving self through practice. When we practice - we improve, and we can conquer the critic when it arises.
Practice may include spending time with the quality people in our lives, as well as practicing things like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, engaging in physical activity, spending time in the zone, listening to mentors in your field of choice who have healthy, inspiring messages, learning about optimism, and practicing an attitude of gratitude.
We can bring the authentic self out when the critic arrives, and begin to validate, support, and challenge the critic. Prepared with sayings in the moment, like: “Yes, I hear you, and I am here for you. What do you need? It will be okay. That’s not true. You’re amazing. This too shall pass.” Our inner critic will have loads of thoughts and opinions. It will play out entire conversations in our head that haven’t happened, or if they have, will add a dramatic twist onto it. We can be aware when this happens, simply notice, and reply, “Oh that’s my jealous self, rearing its ugly head. I hear you, relax, that’s not true, I got this, this will pass.” We don’t want to do any damage with our sharp tongue or compulsive nature, that’s the last thing we want to do, and our critic when left unchecked, can damage our relationships with others, create shame and guilt, second guessing, and closes off of our intuition. It can escalate situations, add melodrama, and leave us in a chronic state of hurt, suffering, regret and judgement.
The good news is, the more we confront and challenge the inner critic, the more we will come to believe in our awesomeness and handle challenges as they arise. Even when we make mistakes, when life is challenging, when we’re tired or think we can’t go on or deal, or when we judge our self too harshly, asking; “Why am I this way?” Just know that judgment leads to suffering, and loving – kindness wins.
Invite your loving self to soothe you, and remember, it’s all going to work out.
Sending you loving-kindness,