Talking to your inner critic, can it be tamed?
Do you have an inner critic ? Have you ever tried to talk to your inner critic. This is what happened when I tried. In my Be yourself thread people asked about how I interviewed my inner critic. So here it is.
This is adapted from a writing exercise to interview your inner critic about one's writing. As my inner critic has an opinion all aspects of my life I decided to broaden the scope of the interview.
Me: I welcome (well I don't really) this opportunity to
find out why you always need to have an opinion that is always negative about
me and my life.
IC: I thought this was going to be a friendly interchange of ideas but there you go with your anger and hostile remarks. I do not see myself as negative but as helping you, because you do need help.
I am here to help you why can't you see that?
Me: So when I am trying to sleep and you tell me about all my mistakes, embarrassing moments, how does that help me?
IC: I thought while you are in bed you would have time to consider some of your past behaviours. This I feel will only help you to improve.
Me: If you are so helpful why do I feel so worthless, so sad, so ignorant when you are around? Do you really know how low I can feel when you are constantly telling me all my faults?
IC: You make yourself feel that way- I am merely pointing out the truth. It is not my problem that you are so weak.
Me: Maybe this was a bad idea you are never going to listen to me or understand me.
IC: Have you ever thought that maybe you shouldn't listen to me if I upset you so much.
Me How can I ignore you when you are so loud at times.
IC: See this is what I mean you are so weak. You have the power to ignore me, to silence me but all you do is whinge and complain.
Me: I am ending this interview. Enough is enough.
What would you say to your inner critic and what do you want to hear from your inner critic? Maybe you can have a go at interviewing your inner critic.
Hi Quirky, Change the name to kind encourager if you like. I deliberately mentioned 'developing' the kind éncourager because most of us here need one but it will take time & effort. That rotten harsh critic has had control for too long & won't stop without a fight.
May we all start on the path of developing the kind encourager even if we start by commenting to ourselves once or twice a day how well we managed something that was hard or whatever positive comment we can make to encourage ourselves.
Thanks Elizabeth. It is a great suggestion.
I will have to learn how to encourage myself as I find that hard because it is so easy yo belittle and undermine myself.
I suppose one has to learn to turn around the critical language.
Thanks again you have given us some great ideas to use.
Hi Quirky (and everyone else who has replied),
Why does our bully of a critic never be silent hey? Yesterday mine was on a rampage. As soon as the day begun she was in fighting form bringing me right down. I focused on two things. One was to try and be present. The other was to remind myself I was in a safe place with people who don't expect me to be anything but myself.
An example. The big family breakfast. Aunts and uncles and cousins and their kids. So busy and overwhelming. I escaped to the kitchen to wash dishes. Family tried to make conversation and I couldn't organise any thoughts. I sounded awkward and disjointed. The critic had a field day within. I felt more and more panicked.
So I started speaking up. I'm sorry I can't seem to focus today but I am trying. The gentle smiles and understanding and reassurance gave my inner critic nowhere to go. They don't care that you're weird was my reply.
You say the wrong thing... so what? You're frazzled over nothing... so what? Your conversation is awkward... oh well it happens. And the good part... I started to feel better about myself. It didn't change that I was muddled. But it did mean I could just let the critical thoughts pop into my brain and then just let them go.Yes I am human and have faults... and that is ok (everyone else does too).
I find praising myself just gives the critic more ammunition. It's easier just to say ok you have an opinion. fair enough. Doesn't mean I have to listen to it.
Once again thanks for your insightful analysis into your inner critic's mind and how to manage it.
I agree that I find 'praising myself just gives my inner critic more ammunition' so that's why I like encouragement rather than praise. I like your plan to say to your critic, ok you have an opinion fair enough but it doesn't mean I have to listen to it. I am witnessing you getting stronger everyday.
So you can just accept your inner critic but don't take any notice of it or you can have a king critic that encourages you and becomes louder than the inner critic or you may have something else that works for you.
Just wondering does it help you when you share your critic vs self debate? When you read my debate and said my critic was a bully it really helped. Having a third party opinion was useful to me.
Can we help? What is your critic doing to bring you down today?
Mine is feeding my catastophic thoughts. You feel strong but you're not... Just wait...the slump will come soon. That sort of thing. Having a third party just now (psychiatrist) reassuring me was helpful.
I hope you can let the critic have an opinion and just shrug it off and move on.
Thanks Nat, I started this but was not going to share. it is not dramatic maybe a tad ordinary but that's me nothing flashy!
This is the first meeting of my inner critic(IC) and the Kind
One(KO) and ME near the end.
IC: I have no idea why we are meeting, you know she never listens to you, as you are you soft.
She listens to me because she respects me.
KO: She is scared of you because you are bully. She does listen to me and I am becoming louder.
IC: rubbish she knows I am right, that she is shy she is scared, she knows I tell the truth. None of this babying here and telling she is doing well and trying hard when it is so clear she does not try hard enough or that her best is just not good enough.
KO.Who are you to decide what is right for her. You are so negative, so destructive and are only happy when she feels defeated.
IC: What rubbish. I am right because I know best. I have known her all her life, you are new on the scenes. You know nothing.
KO: If you know what is best why has she asked me along to help over ride your comments?
IC: She is confused because you are here, she was fine before you came along.
ME: Wait a minute all this arguing is hurting my head. Why can’t you both work together to help me.
IC: I don’t need anyone’s help I have been looking after you ok for years.
ME: No, you have been putting me down and upsetting me.
KO: You must listen to my voice and ignore the critic. As long as you acknowledge the critic , I can’t help you.
IC: If you listen to the Kind One you will have a permanent headache and be confused.
ME: I will try to listen to the positive and drown out the critic.
KO: Great that is a great start . I am proud of you
So any insights or ideas from anyone would be greatly appreciated.
I feel I am too polite to my critic. I was taught to be polite. So I feel if I ignore my critic that is being rude so I keep listening.
I wonder if adding some evidence or facts could help. For example IC says your useless you can't do XXX KO replies -- I've never done it before, or I've never been taught how to do it or whatever the fact is Then KO says You can't expect to be perfect first time At least I'm trying & I'm learning As I keep trying I will improve. Hey even Einstein failed at school but he didn't give up.
Or IC states you are worthless no one likes you You made a complete fool of yourself there. KO says Yes you did make a mistake there but Everyone makes mistakes and my kids love me & I am good at listening to people when they are feeling down & always treat everyone with respect. I don't have to be the life of the party to be worthwhile
It is funny how I won't challenge the bad things I think about myself but if I will challenge positive things that other say. I have some work to do.
Elizabeth is great to have your inisght because I often cant see things clearly so I appreciate your time and effort.
I think we when we generalise saying things Like I am hopeless, useless a failure, it is hard to argue but as you show if we break it down into, I have not done this before, I couldn't do this but I could that etc. it becomes more manageable.