The inner critic… do we all have one? No, but the vast majority of us do. The real question is, what is it saying? Are you consciously aware of it? What decisions does it make for you?
My first professional coach called the inner critic a gremlin. She was a great help in helping me recognize my inner voice. She helped me realize just how much of my decision-making was driven by this inner critic.
- It inhibited my relationships, because it caused me to feel self-conscious being my authentic self.
- It limited my future, as it told me what was and wasn’t possible for me.
- It stunted my growth, as it told me to defend myself rather than take accountability.
When I first recognized this inner critic, I was pretty mad and it. She gave me permission to express that anger, and assigned homework like putting my gremlin’s face on a balloon, giving it a few good punches, and then popping it.
I wrote down the common things I noticed it saying, mostly that I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t deserving of good things. I can directly attribute this work to launching this business nearly 15 years ago. If I hadn’t have recognized this voice telling me how destined I was to fail, I would have never told that voice to shut the hell up!
That voice didn’t go away. It still shows up, and I am grateful for it. Because you know what? Sometimes I am not my highest self, and it shows up to tell me where there is room to grow and love me through it.
I have found that the key to growing consciously is not to make the inner critic an enemy, but to realize the inner critic is YOU, and to start turning your inner critic into a constructive conscious coach who speaks kindly to you and loves you unconditionally.
I once had a coach help me understand if I didn’t have a great relationship with money, I need to think of money as someone I’m dating and wish to attract. How am I regarding money? Do I resent money? Do I expect that it will go, so I put my guard up and refuse to welcome it in the first place? Do I do things to make money know how special it is to me, what a priority it is to me? How am I treating money?
When I thought to apply this lesson to my inner critic, my conscious growth expanded exponentially!
The people who have been influential in shaping us are people. They have not always been their highest selves, and unfortunately, we often define ourselves by those moments. These moments can create trauma and wounds that we may never know need to be healed unless we become aware of them. They form beliefs about our relationship to this world, what’s for us and what’s against us. And, they contribute to the fuel our inner critic uses to “save us” from experiencing that rejection again.
When you tune into your inner critic, do you hear your own voice, or the voices of others who have projected their own insecurities onto you? When I tune in while in a deeply reflective state of mind, I hear my own voice, but I flash back to moments when others shrunk my sense of self.
I’ll be real with you – this can be painful to relive. I recommend journaling. Imagine that you, present day as your highest self, could intervene with your younger self, and, like the parent you want to be, teach your younger self that those hurtful words and/or actions were not about you! They are not the truth. Tell your younger self what the truth is!
You might think this is woo woo crazy stuff, but you already have a voice that speaks to you. It’s already you, so you might as well speak to yourself as your highest self – kindly, with compassion and grace.
Do you feel engaged, inspired, and inclined to do what a bully tells you? Do you want to succeed for this bully, or do you want to sabotage this bully?
When you want to form a good habit or break a bad habit, your conscious mind attempts to give your unconscious mind an order. Your unconscious mind likes to take orders, but like you, it might take or leave orders based on the kind of rapport it has with the “boss.” Otherwise, it will continue along the path of least resistance, which is to keep listening to the inner critic.
We make what is conscious unconscious, or automatic, through repetition, which can be accelerated when the mind is in the most receptive state. In order to make your unconscious inner critic the kind of loving, inspiring leader you want to listen to, be intentional, kind, and patient with yourself. Have regular pep talks with yourself. Send yourself internal verbal votes of confidence. Affirmations have been clinically proven to produce results.
Habits go from a push to a pull once your unconscious mind starts to cooperate. Just like any good leader will get the best results in the short and long-term by inspiring his/her team with a compelling vision and by appealing to their highest selves, you will find good habits more easily form and bad habits more easily break when you convert your inner critic to your most powerful advocate and cheerleader.