You have an idea, an opinion, or a need. You want to say something, do something, or ask something. But, you feel a familiar hesitation. Have you had that feeling?
It starts with a faint murmur. A small bubble rising up from an unknown depth. At first, it feels non threatening and is somewhat familiar to us.
You know what I am talking about. It’s your INNER CRITIC.
It’s only a matter of a few minutes or maybe even seconds before it bursts out, completely consuming you. You suddenly remember events, harsh words, unpleasant situations that were not even on your mind. You are dumbfounded by this onslaught. Your inner critic has got you by its jaws now.
Inner Critic Meaning & Does Everyone Have A Inner Critic
It is a voice inside you that tells you the worst things about you.
It didn’t start out like that. Originally, it was meant to help you maintain boundaries. The goal was to make you feel a healthy sense of shame. Inner critic was designed to promote appropriateness while curtailing inappropriate behaviour. In the right amount and in the right way, it is a necessary component of our psyche.
The lack of a healthy inner critic can actually lead to a person becoming a psychopath and even a sociopath.
But somewhere along the path things went horribly wrong. And then overtime, for many, it became a nagging sound that questions everything you want. Questions all that you want to say and express. Makes you wonder whether what you desire do you actually deserve it!?
How Does The Inner Critic Develop
Berne’s Transactional Analysis says that every person has a nurturing parent ego and a critical parent ego within them.
The parent ego within you got built from learning the language, attitude, tone, and actions of your parents, teachers, caregiver, and influencers.
It is possible that you were subjected to excessive criticism which was harsh and unfair. Guess what, you learnt that it is okay to be harsh and unfair towards myself and towards others.
Toxic criticism became a way of life. It became normal for you and that created an unhealthy inner critic within you.
Picture Credits: https://counsellingtutor.com/counselling-approaches/transactional-analysis/what-are-ego-states/
In simple words your inner critic is nothing but the reflection of the parenting that you received.
Over a period of time you started self regulation of your thoughts, behaviour, desires, and actions based upon the conditioning that you were subjected to in your early childhood.
For those of you who have the problem of toxic inner criticism, then know that you have a much stronger critical parent ego than a nurturing parent ago.
Examples of Inner Critic
There are so many ways the inner critic shows up. It depends upon your bringing up. It could be:
- You are not beautiful.
- You are ugly
- You are fat
- You are not worthy.
- You don’t deserve it.
- There is something wrong with you.
- You are weird.
- You are unlovable.
- Did you really think that you were going to make it happen all by yourself
- (After taking a chance) Was that the right thing to do?
- Really!? you and him/her?
- You only deserve this (crap)
- Am I expecting too much from him/her?
Whatever comes up, it is a ridicule or something nasty that you were subjected to as a child, teen, and young adult.
How Do I Stop The Inner Critic
There is an intellectual way to go about this and an emotional way. Both are going to be important. Many articles that I researched spoke about understanding and putting up a fight against that inner voice.
Meh.. If only it was that easy. Why would you be here and scouting for answers?
Look at Your Inner Critical Voice as a Trickster
We think and believe that negative self-talk is evidence of something wrong but it is not. It is not something that needs to be fixed rather regulated. That is why I mentioned earlier that it is a necessary component of our psyche.
If your negative self-talk triggers fight or flight response then you know that it is playing games and tricks with you. The balance is so skewed that your inner critic controls your sense of self.
Recognize that it is your inner negative talk that feeds your unhealthy sense of self image. It is the underlying problem which has created your relationships with drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or work in attempt to find some relief and distraction.
Don’t Distract Yourself
It is a very common coping mechanism to distract yourself when the ugly inner critic shows up.
You will tend to distract yourself with things that are not important. Those tasks may need to be done but they are not important at that moment. They are not critical for your growth and for you to feel alive. Do you see what I’m saying?
Allow yourself to stare at this inner critic, eye to eye. You must stand up to it. Make no mistake, it is a bully and the only way to tackle a bully is to confront it.
Use the nurturing parent within you to confront the critical parent. It will be like a three way dialogue where the nurturing parent ego is your advocate.
Now, if you have messed up you allow yourself to feel the pinch. It is required. Otherwise, remember the love you have been given, that time when someone stood up for you, and use that love against this inner critic.
Work on Your Inferiority Complex
Inferiority complex and a toxic inner critic are two sides of the same coin. One always leads to the other.
Inferiority complex makes you feel inadequate and this sense of inadequacy is further strengthened by negative self talk. This deepens your inferiority complex
Strong Limiting beliefs also play a pivotal role in the kind of things you say to yourself. You need to start the work to heal your specific negatives, limiting beliefs personal to you, to start the process of repairing your sense of self.
Support Your Mind With Your Breath
It is a fantastic practice to use your breath to ground yourself when your mind is going for a toss.
Breathwork leads to mindfulness.
Mindfulness leads to relaxation.
Relaxation leads to tranquillity and joy.
Hence, a soothing rhythmic breathing really helps to alleviate stress and anxiety through its effect on the autonomic nervous system.
There are many breathworks out there which may help. In my personal experience, I have found that the REBIRTHING BREATHWORK is the most effective and pleasurable breathwork that I (and millions of others) have come across.
Rebirthing Breathwork is conscious, gentle, rhythmic, and intuitive breathing. It is a simple yet powerful technique developed by Leonard Orr.
It activates your life-force energy, aka prana or chi to create an amazing feeling of bliss and tranquility.
Those who have done it, swear by it.