In my work with clients and myself – the inner critic always comes up. This is that voice “between the ears” that isn’t so nice. And, it’s not just what is said but how that voice sounds. Is it loud, quiet, mean…?
Our inner critic is sneaky! It masks different perspectives – which can make it more challenging to notice.
First step is awareness and we do this through our slow belly breaths. Next as we become aware, it helps to notice the different masks our inner critic can show up as. Here’s a great description;
Our inner critic blames and attacks us for what we do and when something goes wrong.
Now sometimes, that voice may be speaking with some truth.
Let me explain.
Perhaps we’ve said something that wasn’t very kind and regret saying it. Instead of noticing our mistake, our inner critic tears us apart. But here’s the thing, we can make a mistake without needing to have that horrible abusive voice. In many ways, this unkind voice makes us feel smaller and ultimately more likely to keep making the same mistake in the future.
This is the rational questioning voice, but it has an undermining quality.
For example, you may have said something that wasn’t very skillful and the inner critic says, you know, that wasn’t a very skillful thing to say, do you know you might have hurt that person?
The rationaliser mask can be difficult to see sometimes because it sounds sensible. This is why we need to develop awareness.
This inner voice sounds like we’re expressing humility or being fun, but we’re always the butt of the joke. We’re constantly undermining ourselves and being cruel and unkind towards ourselves.
Our inner critic is speaking to us in a way that it sounds like it’s being compassionate, but what it’s really doing is undermining us again.
An example might be, ‘ Oh, you really did your best’’. But underneath is the sense that you’re just not good enough or failed.
This is the voice that compares ourself others. Best way to change that; start comparing yourself to only YOU. Perhaps you are training for a 5K race. You might not be as fast as your friend, but with training, you’ll be faster than you were a year ago.
We all have an inner critic. How does your speak to you?