Episode 66: Healing Your Inner Critic

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On our spiritual journey, one of the first things we learn is that our words and thoughts significantly impact the experience we will have. We become more intentional about how to speak to and how to treat others. But what about how we speak to ourselves? Does your internal dialogue differentiate between constructive criticism and negative feedback? Let’s talk about how to put that inner critic in the backseat of our minds and allow our inner cheerleader to take the wheel!

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HEALING YOUR INNER CRITIC

THE INNER CRITIC

We all have an inner critic, and it’s not a friendly voice. While constructive criticism helps on our journey, there is nothing productive about our inner critic. That voice always seeks something to complain about, belittle us with, and creates a lot of guilt and shame.

  • “I am stupid.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m too skinny/fat.”
  • “Nobody likes me.”
  • “I always make mistakes.”
  • “I might as well just give up.”

 
Does any of that sound familiar? Those are the thoughts of an untamed inner critic that has made itself nice and cozy in your subconscious and conscious mind, keeping you from stepping into your self-worth and your power. Once you realize your inner self-critic is in the driver’s seat, it’s time to ask it to take the backseat so you can get where you want to go!

OH, THAT’S INTERESTING!

Our inner critic has a huge influence on our experience. It has high expectations about success and is never quite satisfied, regardless of how many wins we have. At some point, we must counter those negative thoughts running rampant through our minds and say, “That’s simply not true.”

Or, you can say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Thank you for allowing me to take a deeper look at that.” I call this getting curious.

In the past, I had a very loud inner critic that encouraged me to call myself stupid consistently. This overwhelming thought would chime in throughout the day, and any mistake I made was there to reinforce that belief. It was time to start talking to my inner critic to explore these illusions.

LET’S CHAT

One thing about the inner critic that is always true is that it loves to talk. So when I decided to engage in a conversation about these intrusive thoughts, it allowed me to counter the negative self-talk with discovery questions.

“Why do you feel stupid?” Because of x,y,z. “Well, why would that make you feel stupid?”

The inner critic will share a lot of story you can listen to with self-compassion. A lot has to do with society, upbringing, and experiences from the past that have created certain emotions that have not been processed.

The inner critic convinces you that those experiences will be too painful to process, so it’s safer to avoid reflecting on how they’ve affected you. But once you are willing to explore the root of the negative thoughts, you can pull them up and weed them out!

AGREE TO DISAGREE

Even when we hear the inner critic in our minds loud and clear, that doesn’t mean we have to agree. There is nothing that the critic is sharing that is going to help you. The criticism isn’t constructive; it’s destructive.

Allowing ourselves to believe those words or thoughts creates uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and unworthiness that will keep us stuck in time. If we feed the inner critic by believing everything it’s putting out, it will take over our life and reality.

I know I certainly don’t want to feel stupid my entire life. That’s no fun. I’ve learned that if I am feeling a particular way, there’s something for me to look at and ask myself, “If I am feeling this way, what thoughts can I adopt that support a change?”

The critic is comfortable. The critic doesn’t want change.

When you give yourself permission to get curious about the critic and how it’s running your life, changes will occur and lift you into a new, more positive experience.

The first stage of any change is curiosity.

SHIFTING THE DIALOGUE

The next stage for healing and taming the inner critic is shifting the dialogue. Once you’ve gotten curious about why your inner critic is so eager to question your worth, you can examine the areas of your life that reinforce this belief.

Perhaps you want a promotion, but fear keeps you from reaching that goal. That fear creates behaviors that prove the inner critic right. What would it be like to have the courage to go for the promotion? It could start with simply telling yourself, “I am good enough. I deserve a promotion.”

If the inner critic chimes in, “No, you’re not,” shift the dialogue and tell it to hush. “I know you believe that, but I don’t any more!”

PICK UP THOSE POM POMS!

The more that you stand up to the inner critic, your inner cheerleader will start to show up! We want to feed the inner cheerleader while we tame the inner critic.

  • The inner cheerleader wants to cheer you on.
  • The inner cheerleader wants you to feel good.
  • The inner cheerleader is willing to participate in change.

 
So let’s say that promotion? Once you notice that critic piping up, you can evaluate where the inner critic is being fed. Then you invite the inner cheerleader to shift the dialogue and create the change.

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

The shift from feeding your inner critic to allowing your inner cheerleader to be in charge may take time. The harsh criticisms from my early childhood took some time to work out. I allowed myself to examine those thoughts and admit how they made me feel.

I didn't wake up one day and notice, "Wow, I'm not feeling stupid anymore." Those thoughts slowly faded until they weren't part of my everyday reality. It wasn't until years later, when the inner critic stopped by for a visit, that I realized how quiet it had been. I thought, "Oh wow, I haven't thought about that in years. Where did that come from?"

One of my defense mechanisms to cope with learning disabilities was to make dumb blonde jokes at my expense before anyone else could. I beat people to the punch and sidestepped feeling unworthy by making fun of myself. That was my inner critic, not my inner cheerleader. Years after leaving that behind, it came up again in a message with a client and took me by surprise.

That allowed me to celebrate how long it had been and look at why, after so long, the inner critic accepted the invitation to chime in. We will all have lapses where the inner critic feels welcome to come back around, but that's when we can recognize our growth and remind ourselves not to feed the critic any longer. If you can catch it and recognize it, you have the opportunity to start mending and healing it again, no matter where you are on your journey.

JUST SAY “YES!”

So the question I have for you is: Do you want to tame the inner critic and start allowing the inner cheerleader to take the lead? Is it a yes? Can I get a full body, “Yes?!” A yes that will enable you to really take ownership of this?

You can say, “I am feeding and nurturing my inner cheerleader. Moving forward, my inner critic is being tamed. When my inner critic speaks up, we’re going to get curious about why. We’re going to shift on how the behavior and the inner critic is behaving so you can create change.”

You deserve to have the inner cheerleader be the star of the show to support you, to support you in your life. Feed and nourish your inner cheerleader to celebrate YOU!

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Full transcription of the episode:

Hello and welcome to today’s show! I am so excited you are here! Have you ever told yourself something that is a lie? Or maybe it’s not a lie, you truly believe it. Have you ever criticized yourself in a way that makes you feel unworthy or not enough? We all have an inner critic and that inner critic is a pain in the butt! The inner critic is always looking for something to complain about.

The inner critic creates a lot of guilt and a lot of shame. The inner critic influences you in so many different ways. Something that the inner critic could say is, “I am stupid. I am not good enough. I am always making this mistake. I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I’m too weak. Nobody likes me. I might as well just give up.” Or the inner critic has such high expectations around success that the inner critic thinks that nothing is ever good enough.

The inner critic is running the show in the subconscious and conscious mind when it is untamed. And what I mean by that is at some point in time in your life, when the inner critic speaks up, you have to say, “That’s enough. That’s simply just not true.” Or you have to say, “Interesting that that’s coming up. Let’s look at that.”

And I call this getting curious, so for me, a long time ago I would call myself stupid on a consistent basis and this was just an ongoing dialogue that my inner critic would just constantly express throughout the day. If something happened where this would reinforce that belief, my inner critic was chiming in to point it out really, really quickly. Oftentimes this inner critic was very self-conscious of being judged. I think we are all self-conscious of being judged in some way, shape, or form. And what I ended up doing about this, is I started talking to the inner critic to explore those illusions.

So, “Why do you feel stupid?” Because of x, y, z. “Well, why is that?” And then the inner critic will share a lot of story and that story you can listen to with self-compassion. And a lot of it has to do with society, with upbringing, has to do with different experiences from the past that have created certain emotions that have not been processed. And those experiences sometimes we don’t want to experience again because they are too painful to experience, so the inner critic wants to keep you safe in some way, shape, or form.

The problem with this is having a lot of guilt or shame that the inner critic is constantly sharing with you, or the inner critic is bringing up a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, a lot of unworthiness that is not going to help you in the long run. It’s going to keep you stuck in the same place for long periods of time. If we feed the inner critic, meaning if we agree with the inner critic, and we don’t challenge the inner critic to think differently, that inner critic will take over your life and reality.

For me, I don’t want to feel stupid my entire life. That’s no fun. And I also know that if I am feeling a particular way, that means there’s something there for me to look at. And if I’m feeling a particular way, what can I do to start making myself feel differently that supports new change? The critic is comfortable. The critic doesn’t want change. When you have the ability to start getting curious about the critic and how it’s running your life and how changes can occur, then you’ll start feeling better. But it first starts with the curiosity stage.

The next stage for healing and taming the inner critic is shifting the dialogue. Shifting the dialogue. So if you get curious and let’s say your inner critic constantly makes you feel not good enough. You’re not worthy enough, you’re not good enough, one of the things you can do is to get curious about what are the areas in my life that reinforce this belief.

Maybe you want to go for a promotion and you’re too scared because you don’t think you’re good enough. Maybe that behavior of not going for the promotion is allowing this inner critic to be true and be right. But what would it be like to create change to start to have the courage to go for the promotion? It could start with, “I’m good enough. Just simply tell yourself, “I am good enough. I deserve a promotion.” Maybe the inner critic chimes in, “No you’re not.” And then you go, “Shhh. Shush. I know that you believe that, but I don’t anymore.”

And the more that you stand up to the inner critic, the inner cheerleader will start to come out. We want to feed the inner cheerleader. We want to tame the inner critic. The inner cheerleader wants to cheer you on. The inner cheerleader wants you to feel good. The inner cheerleader is willing to participate in change. So once you start to notice that something’s going on, you can start to evaluate where the inner critic is being fed. So let’s say that promotion? Then you invite the inner cheerleader in to create the change.

The change may not happen instantaneously. I know for me, when I had these feelings of being stupid, not feeling good enough, they stemmed from childhood, they stemmed from learning disabilities and I had to work it out. I worked it out, at the time, by talking about it, by expressing myself in a way that gave me permission to have courage to admit that that was what I was feeling.

And there wasn’t a day that all of a sudden I woke up and was like, “I’m no longer feeling stupid anymore.” No. It just happened where I stopped thinking those thoughts and it probably wasn’t until years later until I made a different comment and I’m like, “Ooooo. I haven’t thought about that or I haven’t said something negative about myself in that way in many years. Why did I just do that?”

And that particular thing that I did that day was I told a dumb blonde joke. And I used to tell dumb blonde jokes. If you’ve never seen a picture of me, I have blonde hair, so I would beat people to the punch and so I would say a dumb blonde joke. And in my coaching business one day, someone messaged me and I made a mistake, a scheduling error and I made a dumb blonde joke and I was like, “Wooooahhh! Where did that come from? I haven’t said one of those jokes in years!”

So one, I actually celebrated that I made a change and a shift that I haven’t participated in years. Then I got curious about why my inner critic chimed in at that moment in time. Because we will have lapses where the inner critic will disappear from that particular thing that it loves to criticize you about and then it will go away because you’ve done the work.

And then sometimes it might pop in as like an old familiar friend. And because you’re doing the work, you have the opportunity to get curious again about the situation, the circumstances, and how you’re feeling. Recognize your growth and know that it’s okay that it happened that moment, but we’re not going to feed that inner critic anymore.

And that’s really key when it comes to growth is if you have a lapse if you have a moment where you do say something that creates judgment or shame or a particular emotion that is feeding the inner critic, give yourself permission to forgive yourself and recognize the behavior and then choose something different. Because we don’t want to spiral out of control with it.

Because that’s what the inner critic wants. The inner critic wants you to spiral out of control so it reinforces the belief and then the behavior. And if you can catch it and recognize it, you have the opportunity to start mending and healing it again no matter where you are on your journey.

So the question that I have for you today, and I want you to answer this question: Do you want to tame the inner critic and start allowing the inner cheerleader to take the lead? Is it a yes? I’m assuming it’s a yes! Can I get a full body, “Yes?!” A yes that allows you to really take ownership of this.

And you can simply say, “I am feeding, nurturing my inner cheerleader.” Moving forward my inner critic is being tamed. When my inner critic speaks up, we’re going to get curious about why. We’re going to shift on how the behavior and the inner critic is behaving so you can create change.

You deserve to have the inner cheerleader be the star of the show to support you, to support you in your life. Feed, nourish your inner cheerleader.

All right, my friends, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Please like, subscribe, share this with a friend. I look forward to seeing you in the next one. Bye!

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