What is the Inner Critic?
The inner critic is the negative chatter that is in our heads. Its role is to keep you safe. The brain lights repetition familiarity and safety. The inner critic will chip in with its negative talk when it thinks you are stepping out of your comfort zone.
We all have an inner critic, but we all think other people don't have one. We rarely share what our inner critic says to us for fear of being judged or humiliated.
Women in particular experience the voice of the inner critic more than men societal conditioning keeps women small and if we dare to step up and be taller, we get labelled as bossy aggressive not feminine enough.
The primary role of the inner critic is to keep us safe and part of the tribe. When the Inner critic senses we are thinking about doing something new, challenging, or changing habitual patterns of behaviour or belief, She starts with the mean critical voices.
Spend some time thinking about when your inner critic turns up and write down some notes;
What are you doing when she?
What were you thinking?
What did she say?
You’ll notice there is a pattern of when she shows up and the things she says.
Where Does the Inner Critic Come From?
We are hardwired to have an inner critic. She is an expression of the safety instinct in you.
The chatter we experience is generally rooted in the messages we received as children. Particularly between the ages of 2-7 years old. This is when we start noticing the world around us, and our subconscious mind is like a sponge.
We form an opinion of the world and ourselves based on how the adults around us talk to us and treat us. How they treat each other. What our siblings and peers say to us and each other. Because we have limited understanding at this age, we internalise these messages and interactions, and they become part of our belief system, whether they are true or not.
For example, if a child is consistently told they are naughty, they may internalise the message that if I just behave better, I will be accepted. This then becomes an internalised message that to be liked, I must be good, and a people pleaser is born. Stepping outside of the role of people-pleasing can bring up the voice of the inner critic.
Look at the notes you wrote down about your inner critic and what she says.
What did you notice about your inner critic?
Was there a pattern to when she showed up or the things she said?
Who does the voice of the inner critic belong to, Parent, sibling, teacher, friend, partner?
Can you remember when you first heard that voice?
This is not a blame exercise. It’s an exercise to trace the roots of your inner critic, so you know how to work with it, and dispute it.
Dispute your inner critic
Imagine if it was your reception teacher who told you were naughty. What would your adult self say to that teacher now? Dispute that belief with your adult logic.
We generally have more than one inner critic. Can you see which types of inner critics you have?
I took the quiz at the end of this blog, to see which inner critic is likely to be holding me back. The conformist, taskmaster and perfectionist, were my highest scoring inner critics.
The 7 types of Inner Critic
Tries to get you to fit into the mould of your family or culture.
Tries to get you to work hard or be disciplined in order to be successful. It judges you as a failure if you don’t.
Sets high standards for behaviour, performance, and production.
Undermines your self-confidence so you won’t become successful or visible.
The Guilt Tripper
Makes you feel bad about things you have done.
Believes you shouldn’t exist. It shames you and makes pervasive attacks on your fundamental self-worth.
The Food controller
Tries to control what you are eating.
What the Inner Critic Sounds Like?
Harsh, rude, and mean.
She says things you would never say to someone you love.
She thinks in black and white terms. You are either good or bad. Kind of selfish. Clever or stupid. There is no grey area in between.
The voice of reason.
You aren’t ready to write about the inner critic. Buy another book, as that one will hold all the information you need.
The voice of ‘you aren’t ready yet.
You haven’t read enough literature. You don’t know everything. You have got enough qualifications; you need another degree before you apply for that job. You aren’t earning enough yet to start a family. You can’t wear that dress until you have exercised more.
Body perfection voice.
You aren’t fit enough, slim enough, attractive enough.
You aren’t good at maths/negotiating/technical stuff.
This one is common for women as culturally; they are seen as masculine skills.
An automatic tape that is running in the background
Has core narratives that it rehashes and repeats time and again. Occasionally adding new lines.
Irrational and persistent.
We know on a level the voice is irrational, yet it has power over us.
The one-two punch.
The inner critic tells you, everyone in the room is more together than you. Then follows up with, get a grip, get some perspective. The critic attacks you then shames you for thinking that thought.
Takes inspiration from critical people in your life.
A critical parent, sibling, boss, friend, partner.
Can you recognise any of those voices?
How to Work with your Inner Critic.
Eliminating the inner critic isn’t the aim. The aim is to know how to work with it and not let it determine your choices.
Inner critic work is ongoing and with patience and consistency, the inner critic will become quieter and have less influence.
Notice and name your inner critic. When the inner critic starts talking, label the voice. “Hello, inner critic”. Separate the “I.” Instead of saying I’m feeling nervous about going to work today. Say, My inner critic is worried about work today. This helps train the mind to see the voice as a part of you, not you as a whole. Create a character for your inner critic. This helps to gain more distance from the voice and adds some humour. “oh, hello Doris. You sound worried today”, Speak compassionately to her. When Doris starts talking, ask her what she’s worried about. What is she trying to protect you from? Thank her for protecting you, and assure you have control. This reinforces to your mind that you are indeed in charge. Look for the humour. Look for what is funny about what Doris is saying. Inner critic don’ts Arguing or attacking the inner critic will achieve nothing. She will just ramp up the volume. She will keep coming back with more and more reasons why it’s a good idea not to do certain things. Be sincere when you listen to what she is saying and when you thank her for protecting you. Imagine she is like a small child who needs to know she is safe and everything will be ok, even though what you are about to do feels scary. How can I help you? I hope this month’s blog about the inner critic has been informative and helpful. Working with the inner critic is part of life, and the tools I have given you can help you quieten her down. But what if that’s not enough? Well, that’s where I can come in; hypnotherapy is an excellent tool for finding out where the inner critic voice comes from and what job it is doing for you. Working with your subconscious mind, we can ask the inner critic what job it can do for you instead, to help you to feel more confident, have less self-doubt, and for the inner critic part to encourage you more constructively. If you would like to find out more, you can book a consultation with me Here
I used the following sources for information about the inner critic https://selftherapyjourney.com/index.aspx https://personal-growth-programs.com/ Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Vision and Make Things Happen. Author: Tara Mohr. QUIZ https://selftherapyjourney.com/Members/Questionnaire.aspx?Questionnaire=23