Are you considering change, or pushing yourself through something challenging? Maybe life is dishing you up challenges that you never expected? All of these situations mean one thing. You’re likely to be confronted by your inner critic.
So who is this critic? Your so-called inner critic is nothing more than your own critical and negative thoughts that you allow into your mind.
Fortunately because you put the thoughts into your mind you can also remove them. Unfortunately it isn’t an easy thing to do. Especially if the thoughts have developed over many years.
Some are the result of beliefs about yourself that you’ve adopted from apparent evidence. This evidence could be repeated judgements by other people, unwanted outcomes, perceived mistakes or even difficulties that keep popping up in your life.
When people repeat a judgment of you, you can start to believe it. You start thinking the same thought as if it’s an irreversible, irrefutable fact. You create stories around your perceived failures, limitations, and difficulties. This can all get carried forward as the thoughts of your inner critic, whose job it is to protect you from re-living past pain or experiencing imagined pain. Your inner critic often gets vocal when your needs aren’t being met, or are threatened.
Why you Need to Accept your Inner Critic
Your inner critic is a protective mechanism. The thoughts you’re putting into your mind are a tactic to prevent you from doing what you fear and what you perceive on one level threatens your needs. Of course, on another level the very thing you fear is what will also meet your needs.
Critical thoughts are a barrier to your growth and they’ll keep you stuck if you let them. They can also send you off course. The brilliant plan you have to fulfil your dreams can be derailed by an inner critic if you make choices based on those belittling thoughts.
Allowing negative thoughts to circulate means that you’ll probably look to others for reassurance. This is fine in the short term but it isn’t sustainable in the long term.
Instead of resisting your inner critic accept it as remnants of habitual thinking that have held you back in the past.
Of course all the things your critic is throwing at you could possibly happen. Get the fears out of your head and down onto paper. Look at them in a balanced way and do what you can to address them. Then “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.” Fear is a normal response to moving outside of your comfort zone. Unless you can learn to sit with it you won’t be able to achieve everything that you want to.
When you’re bombarding yourself with negative and critical thoughts it’s not fun. And it can seem like you have no control. But your brain is infinitely creative, so use it.
Some people do this by giving their inner critic a funny name or their inner coach superhero status.This helps to lighten things up. It takes power away from the thoughts you want to eradicate and strengthens the thoughts you want to use.
It’s hard to be deeply affected by a funny old internal critic called Walter who tries to protect you as if you’re a ten-year- old. Your inner coach could be a super-hero type character or the best vision of your future self you can imagine.
Developing your Inner Coach
The negative thoughts that you attribute to your inner critic are a sign that you’re being challenged. You don’t need an inner critic but you could do with an inner coach. When you’re in a challenging situation a coach is useful.
A coach looks out for you, but in a balanced and positively realistic way. A coach is supportive and a coach is skilled. An inner coach can protect you better than your inner critic.
Develop your inner coach as a voice of reason. When you start putting the negative thoughts into your mind bring out that voice. Use that voice to remind you of what you’ve written down to address your fears.
You want your inner coach to be gentle but strong because when your inner critic is active you’re vulnerable. You need the same compassion that you’d offer someone close to you going through challenges. But you also want your inner coach to be a voice of strength that you can rely on to support you. Your inner coach should be firm, friendly and fair just like you are with others when supporting them through difficulties.
Create your inner coach to be your personal cheer leader when things get hard. But also to acknowledge and appreciate your efforts so that you’re not always looking outside of yourself for affirmation. Give yourself balanced feedback on things that you can improve on. And when called for kick your own butt!
Gradually you’ll find that the thoughts in your head are more aligned with an inner coach than that old inner critic. You may never entirely get rid of fear when taking on new things but appropriate fear is something to be aware of. Not something to be afraid of.