Do you have an inner critic? Someone or something that speaks inside of you and is trying to get you to do the opposite of what you really want? Absolutely. We all have this side to us, this inner voice or spirit that is telling us to do something different, but what does it all mean, is it good to acknowledge it, and how can we coach the critic?
My belief is that the inner critic is good and bad. For the individual who likes to connect with their spirit, and get into spirit, or what Dr Wayne Dyer call’s “Inspiration”, I don’t think that the inner critic is a good resource. In fact, when you’re in spirit, the inner critic will have no force over you as your spirit guides you further, and your ego, or the act of “edging god out” is no longer there.
For the individual that is pushed by extrinsic motivation, or external motivation, such as gaining monetary rewards for completing some work, or achieving a medal for running a race, there is always an inner critic present. If the individual isn’t strong enough, the inner critic will override their thoughts and force the individual to do what it thinks, even though it may not be the most comfortable path. This individual has no use in trying to talk the inner critic out of what he/she is saying. So, then the question is, how can you learn to use the inner critic to your advantage?
Here are my few steps to really coaching the critic…
First understand that it is the inner critic that is actually speaking, it is these inner gremlins trying to get the better of you, nothing else. Acknowledging this is the first step, and at times the most important step.
Understand that the inner critic really wants you to do well and succeed, it’s method or path is just somewhat different to yours. From the beginning, it has taken the learning from our parents, teachers and upbringers who easily feel they know what they want.
Next, understand that the inner critic tries to help you by wanting you to do what YOU want and remain easily in your comfort zone. But let’s face it, if you don’t have challenges and extend your comfort zone, life can get really boring, so the inner critic can crop up and pushes you to do something you wouldn’t, thus taking you out of your comfort zone. As humans, we naturally want to avoid any feeling of pain so we begin to get anxious with this inner critic around.
The problem is that the inner critic doesn’t know when to stop. It will continue until it grows out of control. So this becomes the time, you’ve got to take it out and put it in front of you so you can control it.
To do this, it is important to note when you are speaking to yourself and when the inner critic is speaking to you. One way to do this is to get finer about it’s details. Is it a male or female voice? Is it the voice of someone you know or not? If yes, who? What is the voice tonality like? Where in your body can you hear the inner critic speak from?
Then step back, and observe the critic speak. Notice that the critic is speaking and you have no association with it. The inner critic is trying to control your life, but when you observe it from an outside point, you can see how silly it all looks. Even laugh if you need too. For the next week, be consciously aware of when the inner critic is speaking and note down everything. Also notice when it gets stronger (maybe because you don’t follow its instructions). Does it also get stronger at a certain point dependant on your emotional state? Does it get stronger when you’re tired? Hungry? Bored? Sleepy?
Draw your inner critic. Get creative! This helps externalise it and keeps it separate from you. Remember, YOU want to live your life. You don’t want the inner critic to control it. Do what you need to do in order to ensure that it is a separate entity from you, and when it gets out of control, who are you to follow someone else’s way of life for you?
Go even further and question the inner critic. Understand the deeper concerns of the critic and provide feedback and guidance. Develop a positive attitude and good rapport with the critic. Write a dialogue :-)
Ultimately, the inner critic is good to a certain point. Without it, a person who lives on external motivation may not grow. However, when the inner critic is going out of hand, it’s up to you to really change gear and take command of the vehicle, your body.