Tame Your Inner Critic
Nov 19, 2023
Between you and me, my inner critic can be a real bitch.
In my younger years, it was worse. Much worse.
Nothing was ever good enough, and it was always catastrophizing one thing or another, causing paralyzing anxiety that kept me up at night.
My inner critic, whom I’ve named Art, would obsess about conversations I had earlier in the day (or throughout the week). You shouldn’t have said that! You should have said this! I couldn’t win.
If I was feeling cute and wore a shirt that was a little tighter than usual, Art would make sure I knew everyone in the room was whispering about how big guys like me shouldn’t wear tight clothes.
Having a bitchy inner critic doesn’t serve you (or me). The good news is, you can tame your inner critic.
Three Suggestions To Help Tame Your Inner Critic:
This sounded ridiculous to me too, but I can’t believe how much it’s helped me laugh more at myself, and exercise some compassion for Art. I’m a fan of National Lampoon, and Christmas Vacation is about the only holiday movie I’ll watch, except Die Hard and Love, Actually (obviously), and Art is Clark Griswold’s father in law who can never be pleased and is always disappointed. My inner Art is constantly reminding me that, “those little lights aren’t twinkling.”
There’s lots of reasons we have an inner critical voice. Our family of origin plays a part, and that includes where we lived, the culture we were raised in, our social framework, and more.
Plus, we have our genetic predisposition sprinkling its madness into the gears as well. But when it comes down to it, our inner critic usually speaks up to make sure nothing changes. Art just wants things to stay safe and the same because change is scary.
Thanking Art for his contribution to the conversation is easier when I remember that Art formed his view of the world from the control tower of my mind when I was young and figuring out how to survive and be loved. He’s just a young boy, trying to keep things copacetic. He just wants to feel safe.
One of the skills I’ve learned when my inner critic rears its ugliness is to just say, “thank you for your feedback, Art.”
And then, as soon as you thank it for its feedback, release it from service. “Thank you for the feedback, I’ll review it later. Your services aren’t required today, Art, we’re safe and secure. Go play.”
Kind & Gentle
Contrary to how I started this article, I stopped calling my inner critic a bitch. Let’s be real here. Barring a psychotic episode, your inner critic is still YOU, so be kind to yourself. More than just kind, be gentle. Trust that you're doing the best you can with what you've got, right now.
If you're inner critic is sharp and harsh, name it, thank it, and release it from duty.
You've got this.