Obstacle #2: The Inner Critic
It was a mystery. Week after week, my 70+ client complained that she couldn’t get up going in the morning. She tried all kinds of solutions, but none of them worked. Finally, we were able to identify what was going on in her head. As she lay in bed, she was thinking. “I’m useless, I’m going to fail today.” She thought that because, as she’s gotten older and has physical and mental challenges, she can’t do as much as she used to. It was a great breakthrough! My client can’t change aging, but she CAN change her thinking.
WHAT IS IT? My client struggles with what we all struggle with — a nagging, negative internal voice, also known as the “inner critic.”
The inner critic is not your friend. It’s not a helpful trusty advisor. In his book, “Taming Your Gremlins,” Rick Carson says that your inner gremlin, “tells you who and how you are, and he defines and interprets your every experience. . . his goal, from moment to moment, day by day, is to squelch the natural, vibrant you within.”
Your inner critic tells you that you’re inadequate, you’re going to fail, you’re not as good as others, you’re ugly, flawed, and untalented. It tells you the world is too messed up, and everyone’s against you. It says you’re a poser, and you don’t fit in. It constantly prods you to do better, and more.
Ah, now you’re beginning to see! You DO have a voice that says this.
Learning about my inner critic was revelatory to me. Because, without knowing it, I would give my inner critic free rein. Whenever it brought up a point, I would go down that rabbit hole, and explore what it said, like it was the wisest thing ever. Often, it was running my life!
And it was revelatory to me that psychologists find that the inner critic is universal. I thought only a few of us “challenged” people had it.
What does your negative inner voice say to you? Write down as many of its words as you can. Over the next few days, start listening for it, and writing down what you hear.
How often does your inner critic say these things to you? Write another list of times you’ve heard these things in your mind.
When do you struggle the most?
Identify the negative thought. Many times, when we just name it, the inner critic scuttles away like a roach when you turn on the light.
Don’t listen! Now that you know them, give those thoughts the hand. Refuse to engage in them. Put up your “shield of faith.”
Get someone to support you in your efforts. Sometimes it’s difficult to look inward. It can help to have a friend or coach to look with you.
Remember that the Devil is a liar!! When you’re struggling, ask yourself, “What’s the lie it’s telling me to believe?”
Replace the negative with the positive. Say what you’re grateful for. Remember how God is good. Phil 4:8
FINAL THOUGHTS: Whew! I thought I was on top of this, but as I asked myself the questions, I saw all kinds of hidden ways that my inner critic had been working, like weevils in my pantry.
Here are thoughts I uncovered: I’m inadequate, abnormal and goofy. Others are prettier, more capable, and have it together more. The world is falling apart.
I found that these thoughts erode me as I interact with others, work on my business, schedule my week, and face challenges. They surface when I’m tired. When I post, they plague me like biting flies!
But I am NOT going to let the inner critic squelch my vibrant self!! And I hope you aren’t either. Let’s work on this together. Share your feedback, and we can help one another.