Your Inner Critic is Standing Between You and Your Life.
Are you familiar with your “inner roommate?” You know, the dweller inside your head who always has something to say, provides an overwhelming amount of unsolicited advice, and somehow wields enough power to dictate your feelings, emotions, and actions; otherwise known as the “inner critic.” For those of us aware of our relentless antagonist, we are intimately familiar with the struggle, often questioning if this inner voice is representative of who we really are—our “true” self.
I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to understand my inner critic. Why is she there? Why is she so critical and judgemental? Why does she always think of the worst possible scenarios?
And through all the work, I have realized that she is not me, I am me, and I give her power.
As renowned spiritual teacher and best-selling author, Michael Singer, states in his book The Unteathered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself:
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.”
A mentor of mine asked me to start looking at my inner critic as a rebellious child that passes judgment out of fear, not rationality. And, like a child, needs to be reparented, which is the practice of giving yourself the discipline, attention and care you lacked in childhood. This shift in my perception and looking at my inner critic as a child desperately in need of direction has allowed me to regain control. When my inner critic starts getting out of hand, I simply think of it as a child acting out of turn and respond to it with a loving, but firm tone. This gives me the ability to not bend to the whims of tantrums, which is how I perceive the outbursts of my inner critic.
Controlling our inner critic and creating an inner dialogue of compassion and support is key to experiencing a different level of freedom in our lives. Just think about the possibilities if we moved through the fear our inner critic has instilled to take a chance on that passion project, writing that book, taking that trip, reaching out to that person, or whatever has been put on the shelf because our inner critic said so. Imagine the joy we’d feel!
Now, I want to be realistic. Regaining control of our inner critic is hard work and requires that thing that is so hard to attain and maintain: discipline. But, once in practice, it has the power to change lives. Yes it’s a challenge, but weighing that against a lifetime of facing barriers between me and the life I want? That’s a challenge I’m willing to take on.
As Michael Singer says, “…there are two ways you can live: you can devote your life to staying in your comfort zone, or you can work on your freedom.”
I choose freedom and I hope you do, too.