Our inner critic… It’s the voice you hear when you’re about to make a change or do something you really want. Our inner critic puts doubt in our minds and in our hearts, it can stop us from reaching our potential and from being our authentic self.
It can say things like:
What will people think?
You can’t do that
No one cares about you
What’s the point?
If any of the above sounds familiar, then it might be that your inner critic is on the loose. When I work with people in counselling and we speak about their inner critic, most people say they don’t want to go near that part of themselves. Some people are scared of it because it feels like a bully. Others feel the inner critic is probably right anyway and they don’t feel they have the strength to speak to that part of themselves, so instead they live by what it says and put on with feeling stuck and unhappy.
All counsellors have different approaches when working with the inner critic. My approach is to help people speak to that part of themselves, to get to know why your Inner critic judges you in the way that it does. Yes this can feel scary and will take strength, but when you communicate with your inner critic you can come to appreciate how all the times you have felt bullied, hurt or shamed have stayed with you to create an Inner critic who is crueller than any bully could ever be; the bullied has become the bully.
We need to learn to see the Inner critic for who it really is: a part of us that is often scared and has been shamed. If we learn to love that part of ourselves and embrace the scared nature of the Inner critic, we can then begin to offer the reassurance and kindness it needs.
Taking the above examples of the Inner critic, we can see how offering reassurance and kindness can help us acknowledge the fear the critic is feeling and to move forward. When you get to know your inner critic, you can begin offering yourself kindness instead of criticism.
Critical Part of self Reassuring part of self
What will people think? People may judge me but I’m ready for this change
You can’t do that I’m worried about the outcome, but I can do this
No one cares about you I care about myself and my happiness
What’s the point? When I’m anxious I often think ‘what’s the point’