The inner critic. We all have one.
You know that voice inside your mind that tells you things like you’re not good enough, need to do better, or aren’t where you’re supposed to be in life?
My inner critic was my best-friend. Sounds weird, right?
Well, it wasn’t the best-friend I would’ve chosen, but I spent all my time with her, listened to her, and followed her lead. I was enslaved to her demands and pressures. Inner critics are relentless.
You see, when there’s an inner critic in your mind, pushing you around, it’s hard to love yourself, or even believe you are deserving of love.
But, I’m going to let you in on a secret: That voice isn’t who you really are.
It’s the voice you are listening to. Listening is the key word here. Because if you are listening to the voice, then you aren’t the voice. Said another way, if you can observe the inner critic in your head and watch what she/he says, then you are the watcher, not the inner critic that is rattling off all of the un-truths about yourself.
Next time you became aware of your inner critic, try stepping back and just listening, or observing, all of the things she/he is saying; but this time, with a sense of curiosity and non-judgment.
Notice that that voice you’re listening to isn’t YOU. You are the watcher of it. If you can grasp this concept, it can change your life. Because then you don’t have to take the inner critic’s parroting so seriously. It starts to become a silly voice in your head that doesn’t deserve so much attention.
The inner critic usually develops due to messages we received in childhood, or somewhere along the way in our lives.
The voice becomes conditioned to state things about yourself that you were told about that weren’t true or that you came to believe about yourself due to unfortunate circumstances or relationships. This inner critic thinks it’s protecting you by telling you you’re not good enough and to do better, for example, so that you can heal old wounds. But, this tactic simply doesn’t work. It’s just old conditioning.
There are times when it’s perfectly fine to stand up to your inner critic and to tell her/him to “stop!” or “knock it off!” Statements like, “I’m not listening to you anymore!” or “You no longer have control over me!” can go a long way in breaking the critic’s pattern.
In the space where the inner critic used to be is where self-love can begin to develop. Look for things about yourself you love. It could be anything. Remind yourself of these things daily. Write them down. Give yourself a real best-friend: You.
A favorite tool for developing self-love and believing in your worthiness of being loved is mirror work.
It may seem cheesy, but let yourself go with it. Look in the mirror everyday, even several times a day, straight into your eyes, and tell yourself “I love you” and “I am deserving of love.” Pause for a moment and start to feel that truth.
And remember your inner critic is a well-worn path that has been conditioned over years and isn’t who you really are. Who you really are is to be discovered beyond the senseless critic’s chatter.
Jennifer Huggins, Psy.D is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in West Los Angeles, specializing in Trauma and Chronic Pain. In addition to these specializations, she helps her clients heal depression, anxiety, and reduce stress though the use of cutting-edge treatments and empowering them to thrive in their lives. Her passion is helping clients find hope when its been lost.
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