I named my Inner Critic and now I feel better
That angry, stressed, annoyed voice who shows up sometime.
This summer I learned about my inner critic. You might know who I’m talking about: that voice in your mind who might sound like your dad, or mom, or maybe a teacher or older neighbor. The voice who is angry, or embarrassed, or fearful and scolds you about something.
Here are some truths I learned that might apply to your life as well:
She is not me
I am not her. She is not God. She is not even my moral compass. She is a younger version of me who is trying to protect me. But the only way she knows how is through scolding.
“You should have anticipated that!”
“Why didn’t you do the thing? You knew you had to do the thing and you didn’t do it!”
“You could have done that so much better. Look at theirs, yours doesn’t compare”
I can picture her hissing over my shoulder when I make a mistake, her little face screwed up in anger, distress, and maybe a little disgust.
I dubbed her “Inner Critic.”
It’s not a very creative name but there’s never any doubt that when the scowling, scolding younger me shows up, it’s her.
And I can take what she says with a grain of salt.
She’s trying to protect me
She actually has good intentions. Even though she shows up angry and annoyed, she shows up every time because she wants me to achieve our dream. Our dream of things being the best they can be — efficient, clean, clever, perfect.
But the only way she knows how to help is to remind me of all the ways I’m not achieving perfection like I want. And to make sure that I’m not gonna slack, she criticizes, scolds, and demeans.
But the good news is, I don’t have to listen to her!
I don’t have to listen to her
She’s a younger me who doesn’t always know what to do in new situations we encounter. She can’t advise me well because she doesn’t have all the context that adult me has.
In those times I tell her gently that she can go on break.
Maybe my hands were soapy and I dropped a glass. She thinks someone is going to be mad at the carelessness of the broken glass. So she shows up to scold me into being more careful next time.
In this moment I know dropping the glass was an accident, and nobody got hurt, and it’s not a huge loss. So I can thank her for showing up and wanting to protect me. I can point out that I can handle this situation without her. She can be relieved of duty for the moment.
Also, I truly think that she wants to rest. She doesn’t want to have to be on duty 24/7. When she feels confident that I’ve got the situation handled, I see her wipe her brow and go lie down.
I can train her to be nicer
Because she wants to protect me at all costs, she is very sensitive to threats. Any small or big thing, she’s ready for duty.
But in those moments I can train her to speak the truths I’m learning to me:
I am capable
I am loved
I am different from some others and that’s ok
Over time, she repeats truth to me so much that I begin to believe it and know it. Because she starts to trust that I have a situation handled, she shows up less and less.