Meet your inner critic

Negative thoughts can become beliefs which we carry with us throughout our lives. These beliefs may limit us, hold us back, and prohibit the amount of joy and love we offer to ourselves. Negative thoughts on repeat are sometimes referred to as being from our inner critic.

The inner critic is the voice that tells you you’re not good enough. It’s the voice that tells you you’re too fat/ too skinny/ too tall / too short/ too lazy/ too selfish - basically it’s the voice that points out any perceived flaws you have about yourself.

For some, it is way more noticeable that others. If you have a history of abuse or any unresolved trauma, your inner critic may be more ferocious, or if you are not living your life in alignment with your spiritual and emotional needs, then your inner critic might shout louder in order to get your attention.

On the surface the inner critic seems awful, like we’re being punished in some way, and certainly if the inner critic is allowed to take hod of the reigns, it can certainly make us feel terrible. But if the inner critic shows up time and time again (for women, often in the pre-menstrual phase), then sometimes that is a deeper message to be heard, some wisdom hidden behind a tired of abuse.

It’s a complicated subject, and Alexandra Pope writes about this in her books WIld Genie and Wild Power, as does Lara Owens in her book Her Blood is Gold, for those of you interested to learn more. However here are some ideas to help you learn to befriend your inner critic (and you need to learn to befriend them, because ignoring them does not help!):

  1. Learn to identify their voice. Listen out for those repetitive thoughts that come in so insidiously that you take them as truths. If you’re not sure, take some time to journal about what beliefs you have about yourself. Things like I’m greedy, I’m lazy but also thoughts that are egoic, such as I work really hard, I always get to the gym no matter what. All of these thoughts can become beliefs that can, over time, limit and even control our lives. Start to investigate these thoughts more, when you started believing that, and over time you will be able to take back some power.

  2. Be creative. If you are in the middle of an inner critic attack, you may need to express some of the emotions you are feeling. Painting, colouring, writing all work, as does movement - running, dancing, or anything which brings you back into your body and gets things moving (note: this is not the same as moving for weight loss/exercise).

  3. Pay attention to all the messages you are receiving, including those from friends and family as well as those from advertising and media. If you grew up in a household of women on diet, has this affected you? If your friends are always counting calories, does this make you feel tense or worried about what you’re eating? How do you feel when going clothes shopping or going to the gym, or any environment that makes you think of your body shape and size? Remember, we may have experienced thoughts for so long about ourselves that we take them to be true - but a thought can always be changed. The first step is to recognise them,

Always remember that you are not in this alone. If your inner critic is really aggressive and you are struggling to cope, consider seeking the help of a sympathetic psychotherapist or counsellor.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash