We all have one. You know him or her. It is that little voice in your head. Your inner critic saves you from a lot of pain. It protects you from offending people and overstepping boundaries. However, as much good as your inner critic does, it can also be destructive. Many of us live with the constant "self-talk" of a harsh inner critic. The critic's voice can thwart spontaneity, limit freedom of expression, create guilt for what we have said or done, and keep us fearful that we're not good enough. It simply gets overzealous in censoring your words and actions, and it begins to criticize every little thing we say and do.
“You’re not going to wear that. You know it makes you look fat. That is so not your color.”
“You have thunder thighs. The cellulite on your legs is so gross.”
“Why bother even looking in the mirror? Nothing will help you.”
Although the inner critic may be powerful, you can counter it with a powerful inner coach that knows how to detoxify negativity and open you to life affirming experiences. Here’s how:
1. Learn from your reactions by tuning in before, during or after you have a negative emotional reaction. Listen carefully. How does it speak and what is it saying? Does it speak truth? Become alert and aware without judging it. The process of realization will quiet an overactive inner critic.
2. Realize that your inner critic is the voice of your ego in survival mode. It is within you, but is not the whole of you. It is often the programmed messages given long ago by parents, teachers, and friends. We can easily let go of that which is no longer useful.
3. Encourage and appreciate yourself for your awakened observation. Each time your inner critic repeats its negative mantra, simply smile, observe and realize that it only wants you to be better! Write down the words and phrases the critic repeats and display them where they remind you to be present. Take the critic’s voice and make it sound like the critic was inhaling helium, so that a cartoon voice appears humorous and non-threatening. If there is a person associated with the critic from your past, envision this person as a clown, or some other pleasant character. This takes power away from that voice.
4. “Shoulda, coulda, woulda” are impossible and destructive. Enough with the self-blame! Rid yourself of competition and judgment of yourself with others. You will never be able to get inside someone else’s world. Each one of us is unique.
5. Talk back. Let the critic know that you are aware of its existence. Appreciate its intention. Simply say “Thanks for sharing” and you can decide with clarity which of those messages contain truth, and which are simply programmed from the past.
6. Like attracts like. Train yourself to notice and appreciate what you want more of and it will grow.
Your inner critic can be your best friend. By listening, noticing its intention, and changing the patterned cycle with new understanding, there is no negative effect.