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Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

How to Deal with a Harsh Inner Critic

Like many humans, I grew up under the guidance of a harsh inner critic.

This voice kept me in line, reprimanded me for mistakes and basically grew me into someone who could live, love, thrive, knew how to be healthy, how to be right, how to do a good job, and how to criticize herself well.

This does not always lead to a happy person, which is really the goal, isn’t it?

I noticed that many of my clients seemed to have something in common. A very loud voice that cut them down, focussed on mistakes, thought they could always do better and kept them in a constant anxiety of ‘never quite making it.’

This voice believes that if it calls you ‘lazy’ enough, you will do more, if it calls you ‘dumb’ you will try harder to be smart, if it tells you you are a ‘failure’ ‘broken’ ‘screwed up’ ‘never find love’… you will work so damn hard in the opposite direction…. you will one day be perfect!

Can you see why this doesn’t work?

One of the biggest steps to freedom came when they were able to recognize and separate themselves from this voice. It wasn’t an easy step, but a vital one.

They could see that it lied. And it wasn’t very loving. And it made them feel like c$%#.

What could possibly be good about that?

Think about the teachers or guides you have had in you life. Under which one’s teachings did you learn, grow and succeed and feel good about yourself?

There are 2 types: Type #1 is the impatient, critical, ‘whip them into shape’ in a not-so-nice way one. Type #2 is the gentle, but firm and loving one who still guides and teaches, but also focusses on what you have done well, and encourages you also to improve.

Which one would you rather hang out with? Which one would you rather have your kids and friends hang out with?

You can’t argue or fight with type #1. They will shout louder, get angry or sulk.

But you can give type #2 a louder voice, a bigger space. Do you see where I am going with this?

The first step is to notice the voice of the inner critic. If you have, you already have some awareness, some separation.

Notice what it says, usually it’s the same theme said in various ways. Sometimes it’s ridiculous what it will pick on.

Give it a name, a role, a job such as Harsh Harry, Negative Nelly, Downer Doug. (sorry if you are named Harry, Nelly or Doug).

Give it a nod and a thank you. Know that in earlier years it just tried to keep you safe, help you excel, and keep you loved, accepted and safe. It’s intentions were good, but it’s approach can be horrendous.

Allow a bigger space for type #2. This is the important part. Create a bigger voice, role or part for your ally, coach, cheerleader, loving friend, caring parent, like you care for your kids or loved ones. All a child needs is ONE loving person who believes in them in order to survive adversity. This can be the most important role in someone’s life, and you can create it for yourself. Like right now.

Give this part, your loving guide, a name. Loving Laura, Caring Cathy, Coach Carl, Cheerleader Charlie…

Feel them in your body. Allow space for them, I promise they are there.

They know you are a caring, learning, growing, making-mistaking human being that falls down, falls apart, picks herself up and tries again.

They know you are a person that does not deserve to be criticized, shouted at or beaten into shape.

They are so forgiving of you that there is no need for forgiveness because they know you are enough.

And they will never believe the lies the inner critic tells you. They’ve got your back.

Practice:

  1. Mindfully note when you feel bad, guilty, afraid, anxious or sad.
  2. What are you telling yourself? What script does your inner critic tell you about yourself?
  3. How does this make you feel, speak and act?

Shine this lie into the light to see it for what it is. Breathe deeply into your body to allow space and relax any constriction.

Bring your caring, loving coach on board. Allow them to hold you, speak to you and heal you.

Feel it. Like anything, this feeling will grow with time, attention and love.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Buddha

Funny, but when we learn to love and accept ourselves on a deeper level, we can love and accept others.

Imagine a world like that.

If you want more conversation, tips and videos like this, join my free Facebook group ‘Fear to Freedom: Reclaim Your True Self’ right here.

Lots of love,

Madeleine

 

 

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