Taming Your Inner Critic
Imagine the scene…
You are out with your friends, and across the room you see the most gorgeous person ever. They look up, and your eyes meet for the most fleeting of moments, before you look away. Immediately your heart starts to pound, your belly is doing summersaults, and you can hardly breathe. And then…
…that voice in your head gets started, without your permission, “oh really, you think they would be interested in someone like you? Look at you, your so skinny, you have no social skills, and omg just look what you’re wearing. Someone like that would never be interested in someone like you, you’ve got no chance.”
or perhaps you could imagine this scene…
Your boss calls you into their office and tells you how well you are doing, and what a valuable member of the team you are. They also tell you that there is a new role opening in the department that you are well qualified and suited for, and they would like you to apply for it. The promotion would mean more money, more flexibility in working hours, and a great opportunity to influence the direction of the department within the business. Although the company has an open recruiting policy and there will be other candidates, your boss tells you that they think you have a very good chance of being successful.
You step out of the office and your mind is dizzy with possibilities: More money means you could take that overseas holiday you’ve been promising yourself. Flexible hours might allow you to go to the yoga class you really want to attend, and you have several ideas that you know could save money and improve efficiency within the company. And then…
…that voice starts up again: “Your boss was just being kind. You’re not actually good enough to do that job, you don’t know as much as those other three people, and they’re bound to be applying. Don’t waste your time, you’re not worth that much money anyway. Just stay where you are, and stop getting too big for your boots. People like you don’t get to play in the big leagues.”
Do either of these two stories sound vaguely familiar? Have you ever found yourself doubting your worth, value, or ability? What was the outcome–did you move forward anyway, or did that inner voice stop you in your tracks?
Release what’s holding you back
Perhaps you haven’t started writing your book because you doubt your voice has value. Or maybe you haven’t applied to start your training as a therapist, counsellor, or minister because you don’t think you are good enough to pass. You may be just like me–wanting to reach a bigger audience with your wisdom and knowledge, but not taking action because that voice in your head has all kinds of opinions about what that might mean about you and your life.
When you think about the critical and judgemental things you say to, and about, yourself inside your head, let me ask you–would you say them to someone you love?
I’m willing to bet the answer is, “No”.
So if you wouldn’t say such things to someone else, why would you say them to yourself?
There are lots of answers to that question, here are a few off the top of my head:
- The things I say about myself inside my head are true
- I don’t want to become egotistical or narcissistic
- If I don’t criticise myself I’ll never make changes
- I haven’t really thought about it before, it’s always there
No matter what your answer may be, there are some important things to think about when it comes to this inner critical voice. Firstly, as spiritual beings having a human experience we are all born perfectly whole and beautifully complete. We arrive as new born babes without any self-doubt, self-judgement, or self-loathing. I find it such a joy watching young children just to remind myself of how open, carefree, and without shame they are. There’s no young baby that worries if they are crying too loud, or if they might be offending someone with their filled nappy (or diaper for my American friends). Babies know they are an expression of divine magnificence, at least to start with.
We are not born with our doubts, our fears, or our lack of self worth. Neither do we arrive on this planet filled with guilt, shame, or self-loathing. We are taught them by repetition, in much the same way we learned our multiplication tables in primary school. When we hear things over and over again, we absorb them, we add in our own interpretation, and then accept them as true. Eventually there is a point in our young lives when the collection of external voices of doubt, fear, shame, or worthlessness become synthesised as an inner voice. At that point we have (as the Borg would say in Star Trek) been ‘assimilated’ into the cultural norm of our family, our community, our religion, or whatever controlling force happens to hold the most influence in our immediate environment.
“That voice inside your head is not the voice of God, it just sounds like it thinks it is.” ~ Cheri Huber
It took me many years before I became aware of my inner critical voice. I never noticed it squawking away in my mind, offering a constant narration to my life and my actions. It took time, awareness, and compassion for me to become the impartial observer of that voice. That led me on a beautiful and valuable journey to better understanding the human mind, consciousness, and Life itself. Not to say that I have completely tamed my own inner critic. We now have a gentle working relationship, which allows me to grow, and to heal those places within me that still seek to reveal through judgement and criticism.
Transform your behaviours when you challenge your beliefs.
In the moments when my inner critic comes out, I first remember that we are not separate. Even though I might think of that part of me as ‘other’, in truth I recognise that we are expressing different facets of the face of God. Remembering that I, in all my diverse behaviours, beliefs, thoughts, words, and deeds, am a perfect expression of the one divine Life. As such, there always remains an essence of me that has never been hurt, rejected, or diminished in any way. I seek to reconnect with that first, and then step out in faith to rewire my thoughts and beliefs.
I have a five step plan for taming my inner critic, and yours if you want to play:
- Be willing to stop all self criticism
- Create a character and start a dialogue
- Understand you are always doing your best
- Congratulate, compliment, and encourage yourself
- Be compassionate and gentle with yourself
Within these five steps there are many tools and practices to enable us to apply the steps in everyday life. Following these steps will enable you to transform your inner critic to your inner cheerleader, and achieve lasting peace in your mind.
These tools will change the nature of your relationship with your inner critic, but they will not necessarily change your behaviour. Your degree of belief in the critical conversation is what will make the initial difference to your behavior. Do you believe your inner critic enough to stop you taking forward action or not? Only you can decide that.
- How would your life be different if you weren’t constantly negotiating with your inner critic?
- What one thing would you start if you had an inner cheerleader moving you forward?
- Are you ready to find out?
Join me for four weeks in June and master the five steps to taming your inner critic, and creating a peace filled mind. Exclusively within Spiritual Living Institute I’ll be teaching you how to Tame Your Inner Critic, and master your mind. I’ll be guiding you to better understand how your mind works, and how you can work with it to change your inner dialogue. In addition you will learn and develop valuable tools that can be applied in many different areas of your life.
Juliet Vorster is a speaker, coach, author and broadcaster, based near Southampton on the South Coast of the UK. She is also a spiritual counsellor and an independently ordained New Thought Minister. Juliet is passionate about human potential and specialises in our ability to change our beliefs and thereby change our life experience. As well as her book, Igniting Success Beyond Beliefs, Juliet has a weekly radio show entitled Beyond Beliefs on Natural Health Radio (http://www.NaturalHealthRadio.co.uk), which airs every Thursday at 8pm UK time (noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern). You can find out more about Juliet on her website.
Her book Igniting Success Beyond Beliefs: How to get from where you are to your greatest yet to be, is available in print and Kindle from Amazon.