Most people hear it – know it’s there – and have become accustomed to it. It’s that little critical voice inside of your brain, constantly evaluating, criticizing and shaming you with a message, “not good enough.”
It’s the annoying voice of evaluation that prevents you from finding enjoyment or freedom in what you do. I refer to it as the Self-Critic or Inner Critic.
The Inner Critic can be hard to locate because it operates under the radar — almost like a constant hum in our subconscious. We tend to hear it and then quickly develop strategies to not deal with it. We might get angry with others/ourselves or shut down after the Critic has been shaming us.
The Inner Critic is tireless in trying to motivate or protect us from other people’s criticism. It thinks it’s helping – it’s not.
Critics rob us of the ability to enjoy and live in the present moment. Critics like to hang around in the background of our brain; judging and telling us what others think of us. They use a comparison stick that never goes in our favor.
You might notice that Inner Critic is loud when you’re trying something new, when you’ve made a mistake, when you’ve violated your own moral code or when someone is disapproving of you.
Critics watch our behavior and other people’s reactions — and nail us quickly and swiftly. If there’s any addictive behavior; alcohol, porn, pills, affairs, gambling, shopping or eating — there’s almost always a Critic, hating us for that behavior.
Inner Critics are responsible for us feeling; worthless, depressed, anxious, fear of failure, regret, fear of abandonment/rejection, shame, stupid, deficient, a loser and a host of other negative emotions.
Inner Critics typically start in childhood. It’s normal for a child to feel criticized by a teacher, parent, insensitive friend or a bully on the playground. As a child, we begin to believe if I were better or different – I wouldn’t be criticized. Thus, the Inner Critic evolves and begins to criticize the child to try to motivate them to be better/different.
As adults, that critical “software” never stops playing, even though it’s outdated and no longer effective. Those childhood messages continue to run in the background – and tear down our self-esteem as adults.
Quieting the Inner Critic
I highly recommend you work either with a therapist or use Mark Coleman’s book: Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can free you from Your Inner Critic.
The natural inclination is to drive out the negative self-talk with ineffective and fleeting strategies such as; TV, people pleasing, booze, gambling, eating, perfectionism, affairs, anger and workaholism.
None of these are a permanent solution.
The answer is understanding the Critic’s point of view and giving it compassion. Remember, it’s an outdated strategy from childhood and it thinks we still need to be criticized.
Compassion is the balm that melts self-criticism. If you don’t know how to give yourself compassion — Mark Coleman’s book will help you.
The Inner Critic is behind the insidious thoughts that can make us second-guess our every action and doubt our own value.
―Mark Coleman, Author, Make Peace with Your Mind