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Talking to your inner critic, can it be tamed?

quirkywords
Community Champion
Community Champion

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.

Quirky


820 Replies 820


you have probably heard this before but we wouldn’t talk to our friends the way the inner critics talk to us. 

Hello Ems and Quirky,

 

Ems, I don't think you are losing the plot at all but using your creative imagine to deal with the inner critic 😀 I think imagine away - whatever works for you! I too wondered if the inner critic would actually learn anything on the round the world trip. I think a better option might be leaving the inner critic at home while we get to have the fun of travelling! I like the idea of putting the inner critic on the couch for some psychotherapy - ha ha!

 

Quirky, yes, I have heard that before, that we wouldn't treat others the way we so often treat ourselves. It's a process it seems, unlearning a pattern of being self-critical. Possibly doing a daily meditation of self-nurturance would help. I think I'm going to try that! It will probably make me uncomfortable at first, being nice to myself, in fact I'm cringing already, but I expect with practice it will get easier. I think if we envisage people who have been kind to us first, we can kind of internalise that, and then we start to do it for ourselves.

 

I hope you are both succeeding today in the battle with the inner critic!

 

Another one I just thought off - imagining the inner critic as a football and kicking it as far as possible. Or shrinking the inner critic into a miniature being and putting that being inside the football and then kicking it through the goal posts to the victorious cheers of our inner supporters!

 

Take care,

ER

Good evening Quirky,

Spot on. It does sound familiar but then again I do not trust my memory these days.

It might be the uninvited inner critic nattering away to me.

 

Good evening Eagle Ray,

I do know that I am not losing the plot completely. It does feel as though I am approaching hysteria more closely at times. Then not the kind of hysteria that you see depicted in films with the music happening at the same time and the lights dimmed or even flashing.

My humour certainly is more prevalent in my life recently. Thank goodness. I have been dealing with grief though. Perhaps seems closer to hysteria after feeling so weighed down.

Humour comes in all forms, shapes, sizes and styles.

The old psychotherapy couch.

Question 1.   "Inner critic       Tell me a bit about what brings you here?'

Question 2.   "Inner critic      Why do you think that you feel that way?"

Question 3.    "Inner critic      What makes you say that?"

 

Inner Critic     questions     "Psychotherapist I must write that down"

 

Ems to Inner Critic     Sound of door closing     repeatedly

 

Thoughts?   Your turns

 

Take care

Ems

Hi again Ems, Quirky and All,

 

Ems, I'm sorry you are going through the grief. The inner critic can become particularly savage when we are in grief. Mine was after my mother died. I went to a grief support group for a few sessions afterwards. Almost every person there had a harsh inner critic that was especially beating them up during their grieving. One woman was so upset that while she had been caring for her mother at home, she never thought to orient her mother's bed differently in the room which in retrospect she thought would have made things nice for her mother. Her inner critic was really giving her a hard time about this, when of course she was doing her very best caring for her mother and we all did our best reassure her that her positioning her mother's bed a particular way does not make her a bad person.

 

I relate to the hysterical humour. I've often gone into that state in response to stressful situations. Seeing the hilarity in things or coming up with hilarious thoughts in response to things can definitely help. I think I'm understanding your psychotherapy couch scenario. The inner critic is taking on board all these things the psychotherapist is asking, maybe as future ammunition for attacking the self? But you recognise the inner critic's strategy and close the door on it? I'm not sure if I've interpreted that correctly? I do think sometimes certain kinds of psychotherapy questions can lead us to introspect further, but if not careful they become more sticks that get used by the inner critic to beat us with. The psychologist I work with now has a different sort of approach. She doesn't really ask the above sort of questions. It's more about how I'm feeling and we work with the feelings, often somatically, not really much thoughts. And that actually works much better for me and gets below the level of the chatter of the inner critic to the wounds themselves so they can be directly worked on and healed.

 

A solution for the inner critic that I thought of today is one that actually came to me during a somatic processing session of a trauma incident with my psychologist. During this session I was turning in slow motion to face an abuser (in imagination but based on a prior experience) and the person turned into a hologram so they were transparent and I could see through them. Then they just dissolved completely into thin air and I was left with a peaceful evening and no more abuse whatsoever. It was really calm. My brain produced this imagery spontaneously during the session. So I am thinking another strategy for the inner critic is to see them turn into a hologram so that their form becomes flimsy and then it completely disappears. No more abuse or criticism.

 

Just another thought in case it helps.

 

Take care and all the best,

Eagle Ray

Hello Eagle Ray,

 

Losing one's mum is such a painful experience, no matter how prepared a person thinks they are. I understand your grief, at a superficial level as it is your grief that is your own, dissimilar to anyone else's.  I also lost my mum recently. I now realise that I had lost her years before. A different loss of course at that time. Still provoking grief although not realised. My family life was very complicated; mother and sibling often being unkind. I discovered this after many years of therapy and in latter years a close friend witnessing the contriving and manipulation on more than one occasion. Of course I came up with reasons to protect them  (not myself). I now realise that I was the person in the family who worked very hard to be the mediator. After my dad passed I morphed somehow into the role of mentor and to keep the three of us together. Dad passing many years earlier changed the whole dynamics. He was the closest person in my life to my reality. My grief has been building quietly in the background for many years without my being aware. Autopilot has been a way of surviving for the majority of my life. One cannot sustain this of course. This is also only realised when the body starts to protest, as the mind has not been listened to, by the individual who persists in pushing on regardless. Some call it being strong. It actually isn't over a long period of time as it is not sustainable.  We are human not robots.

I found a way to be with my mum finally and stayed with her during her last few days in this world. Difficult would not change it for the world though.

I understand that lady you wrote about, with the if only thoughts plaguing her. I hope that she has now come to realise that we have no control over everything in our loved one's life. We cannot take away their pain or suffering. We can just let them know that we love them and are with them in whatever way we are able to be. Moving a bed might have subdued some crankiness if evident. More a bandaid action.  I attempted to seek someone who specialised in "trauma" as was advised, but the waiting list was too long.

I have had therapy for many years and have muddled through with one person. It would not suit me to see several.

The psychotherapy inner critic scenario was an exaggerated scenario attempting to amplify "the inner critic" in life as well as in therapy. An attempt at satire. My own therapist does not behave in that manner and I am able to openly discuss with him anything including changes. Sounds similar to your situation in different words.

That was a very interesting experience where the person turned into a hologram, becoming transparent, enabling you to see into and beyond them. Incredible experience. I feel reading about this, that you work very hard also, at learning about yourself. Thank you for telling me about that. I think that we need many strategies. I have noticed that as soon as I happily report that something is working after the session it ceases doing so. I find the hard work is in between the sessions. I like reading or listening to other's ideas. Fresh perspectives.

Where is my inner critic at the moment? I don't know and am not going to try to find it. Hopefully it cannot get through.    My inner connection is down ha ha.

Inner critic you do not have a monopoly on me! (Not at this moment anyway. I will take as much free time as I can get.

I hope that whatever strategies you are using, Eagle Ray, are outsmarting your critic.

Do we have any kind chatters in our minds?

Keen to hear you thoughts on that one.

Quirky and all others please join in if you are interested.  Do not let me overtake the conversations.

 

Ems

 

 

Dear Ems,

 

I'm so sorry for those challenges you've had in relation to your Mum and sibling. What you wrote actually bears some similarity to my own experience. Like you, my Dad was the closest one in my family to my reality, as you put it, which is a really good way of putting it. Although my Dad was a volatile and distant figure to me as a child, he mellowed when I was in my early to mid 20s. We were alike in a lot of ways and kind of intuitively connected. He was the first to go and I felt like I'd lost that meaningful connection then. My Mum had always scapegoated me while being super proud of my brother and always telling me my problem was I wasn't like him. I ended up caring a lot and doing a lot for my Mum and brother, but it is like they could never really see me. I cared for my Mum through cancer treatment and many other health issues, and my brother through a breakdown. Yet, I was always on my own with my life and they could not hold space for me or be there for me as I had for them. Like you I think there was grief building all those years. Then in the last few years in particular I had multiple losses and my health really totally collapsed (mental and physical). As you say, it will show up in the body eventually, especially if the mind keeps blocking it on autopilot. There are books on this topic such as When The Body Says No by Gabor Mate.

 

I'm glad you have a therapist you can openly discuss anything with. I think I get what you mean about things initially working but maybe not working later. I think if we have complex trauma type issues, lots of stuff from childhood onwards, there is a lot to work through, so as we seem to get on top of one thing, other things surface. I have had a lot of success with somatic therapy for specific instances of trauma, especially stuff from adulthood. However, there are so many instances and there are still embedded issues in me from very early childhood. When I'm feeling up to it my psychologist is going to try EMDR with me next to work on certain embedded core beliefs and feelings that persist, stuff that my rational brain understands but my primal brand still reacts to with the same fears I have always carried from the beginning of life.

 

I think not even trying to think about or look for the inner critic can be a good thing. If they are quiet or not in the picture at the moment, best to let sleeping dogs lie (or whatever the appropriate metaphor is?!).

 

Do we have any kind chatters in our minds? A very good question. For me, the kind chatter I think emerges when I do something kind for another living being, human or animal. For example, I love dogs, and just patting a dog not only quietens my inner critic, but I can actually feel the release of oxytocin, the bonding/nurturing hormone. I'm quite sure not only does the dog benefit, but an inner kindness is directed towards myself in this process. I guess it is not so much chatter, but more a feeling.

 

But very, very gradually, I am starting to hear the emergence of an inner voice within me, like a kind parent who says the kind, supportive things I needed to hear as a child but never did. It is still a quiet voice and not very frequent yet, but I have noticed it. I have this thing about feeling guilty when I really shouldn't and will beat myself up about not getting through the chores I set for the day. But then the kind parent comes in and says, "you have really done your best today and look what you have achieved, and you can take a break now and do something you'd love to do". I'm very slowly and incrementally learning not to feel guilty all the time when there is absolutely no reason to. So kind chatter is emerging, even if it still gets swamped by the inner critic at times.

 

Do you find some kind chatter creeping in Ems? I hope there are some inklings there, or that some other kind souls will help plant some seeds to grow.

 

And, yes, others please join in if interested. I don't want to overtake either!

Eagle Ray

Er and em

  • I am enjoying the conversations and discussion. 
    i read all posts on my thread but sometimes need time to reply. 
    I have thoughts constantly in mind so not sure if that is chatter. 

I like the idea of a kind parent. 

 

Is that rather like a coach as I I mention before.

 

 

 

Hi Quirky,

 

Yes, I think that inner encouraging person can be like a coach or a mentor, or even a wise elder. I think it can take a form that feels helpful to us. It sometimes might help to draw bits from wise people we know that can go to form that inner kind voice. I feel like that’s what I do, not even consciously, but people who have been stable consistently kind people in the outer world help to start to inform that sense in the inner world.

 

Even wise people we’ve never met but learned about through books we’ve read, things we’ve seen on tv etc can help to grow our inner self. I like seeing interviews with and documentaries about interesting people who’ve learned a lot in their life and gained wisdom through it. It’s like witnessing their humanity and then it’s possible to kind of absorb some of that and a little bit more wisdom and insight seeps into us.

 

Hope you are having a peaceful evening Quirky and all,

Eagle Ray

ER . I am watching a movie about Karl Marx’s daughter who championed workers conditions ar a time when they were dangerous and unfair. 
An a zing woman whom I never heard about. 

Wow, Quirky, I’ve never heard of her either. Some people have made amazing contributions they are not really known for yet their positive influence flows on into the generations who follow.

 

 I hope you are having a good weekend Quirky.