Taming the Inner Critic
Believing the voice of the Inner Critic inhibits you from
claiming and expressing your deepest potentials. It keeps you
from even knowing what your gifts are. You are not alone if you
are plagued by self criticism. We all have an inner voice that
judges, criticizes and condemns us for how we behave, the way we
look, speak, think and feel – to name but a few of the Critic’s
targets in our lives. If we believe The Critic we think we are
never enough: not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough,
talented enough. Identifying with the Critic is a primary
contributor to low self-esteem and unworthiness. It blocks our
growth and keeps us from standing in the beauty and aliveness of
our True Nature.
The Inner Critic develops in childhood as a result of judgments
and expectations from parents, relatives, teachers and friends,
some who just wanted us to succeed, some who did not have our
best interests at heart. They delivered explicit and implicit
messages to us designed to shape, control and fix us. Often,
they reserved their love and respect for the times we met up to
their expectations for how we should be. They often shamed or
blamed us when we didn’t meet up to their standards.
Psychologist Carl Rogers called these ‘conditions of worth’,
i.e. the messages we received as to how we needed to be to gain
acceptance and approval from others. We then internalized these
messages and now still walk around with a list of conditions we
need to fulfill in order to accept ourselves. And, if we listen
to our Critic, whatever we do still won’t be enough.
My Critic still tries to get my attention. Recently I was
presenting a seminar on Psychology and Spirituality to a group
of 50 helping professionals. I happened to have a cold that day
and was not feeling up to par. Often, the Critic will speak up
when we’re tired, under the weather or threatened in some way.
Because I know now that ‘I am not my critic’, I was able to
disengage from her negative opinions about me and just imagine
her sitting on my shoulder like a squawking parrot, tossing out
critical comments, while I kept choosing to focus on the talk
and on the bright eyes and smiles in the audience. I did not try
to get rid of her. I simply recognized her presence and chose to
keep returning my attention to the task at hand.
The wonderful news is that YOU ARE NOT YOUR CRITIC. It is a
voice within you and you can be free of its oppressive influence
in your life. There are many different ways to tame the Inner
Critic. Some involve inner work to discover and work through the
feelings and underlying issues that continue to fuel these
negative thoughts. Fear of failure, rejection or abandonment are
often at the root of self-criticism. There are also simple,
pragmatic methods that help in the here and now. Some of those
include shifting your attention by going for a walk, meditating
or listening to music. Another strategy that helps to
externalize the critic is to draw it. Give it a shape, face and
name. You can also assign a different task to it at various
times. One client tells his ‘Judge’ that he’s needed in the
courtroom to preside over a new case anytime the ‘Judge’ becomes
troublesome to him. The technique of Critic Stopping (see below)
is also effective. It helps to have a ‘Critic Doctor Kit’ with
numerous tools to help you transform this part of you. Be
careful. Your Critic may tell you this is foolish or a waste of
time. Don’t listen. Take a stand and experiment with different
strategies anyway. Every time you silence the Inner Critic you
take another step towards claiming the bright and wonderful you.
Critic Stopping is a method of claiming your power in the face
of self criticism. It also develops awareness that YOU ARE NOT
YOUR CRITIC. It is a voice that you can stand up to and prevent
Recognize that a critic attack is occurring.
Choose to stop these thoughts as soon as you can.
Imagine a red stop sign that stops the thoughts before
they spin out of control.
After stopping the critical thoughts, shift your
attention to an image, feeling or physical sensation
that is pleasurable. For example, imagine you’re at the
beach on a sunny day enjoying the sounds of the waves
and sensation of the clean, clear air on your skin.
Spend as much time as you like with these positive
Practice this often. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
From February through April 2008 I will be offering 3 different
Teleclasses. Each Teleclass meets for 1 hour and 15 minutes. A
Teleclass is a live class that meets on a conference call. All
you need is a phone. The fee for a single session class is $35
and the fee for 3 session classes is $105. Other teleclasses
will be offered throughout the year.
Trust and Intuition: What Gets in the Way?
Tuesday, February 26 5:00 – 6:15 pm PST
Soul Solutions: Awakening to the Power of Intuition
Monday, March 17, 24 and 31 5:00 – 6:15 pm PST
Taming the Inner Critic
Wednesday, April 16 10:00 – 11:15 am PST
Further details and registration information will be available
in the January newsletter and on my website in January.
If you would like to learn more about my coaching services
and hypnotherapy / visualization sessions, you can call
(415)721-0766 or email me at
email@example.com. If you’d like to contact me for a
free consultation, just click on the link below. You’ll
also find information on my website
www.susannewest.com about my programs for writing,
creativity and psychospiritual development.