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.
I think some people have high self esteem so they put a positive spin on things. I remember driving my son around looking for work. He had a folder with photos of work he'd done & copies of his resume. He would walk into any factory he thought might have work. I asked him how he was coping with all the knock backs. He replied' Its OK they don't need me.' If it had been me I would take the knock backs personally as proof I was useless. He found a job which really suited him. I am like Quirky so am an expert at twisting anything someone says as proof that I'm useless. My family weren't overly critical but my experience with bullying as a child seem to prime me to see myself negatively.
My negative self critic has been working overtime lately.
Elizabeth thanks for your comment .Your replies give me things to think about.
people like your son can turn things around and I wonder if that comes naturally or you helped him to be that way.
I am sorry your negative self critic is working overtime. I s there a reason for that.
I have tried too see things in a positive light like your son did, it I find that hard and there is a voice at the back saying, no one likes your blogs etc and that is why you were rejected.
I see all my typos even though I try to proof read and my inner critic says I am so lazy and ignorant not to notice them. I try to ignore those comments but I do feel embarrassed at all of my typos!!
I sometimes wonder what I would be like if I hadn't been bullied. My oldest son is like me in many ways although he is more intelligent & talented in many areas. His values & interests are similar. In England as a young child I think I acted like he did as a young child. I felt loved by my family & had plenty of friends to play with. After coming to Australia I was bullied & felt inferior to everyone whereas my son never experienced that. I wonder if I would have had the confidence my son has if I wasn't bullied. My son was born with many talents & an innate determination to succeed. Obviously he was loved at home & I tried to give him opportunities to develop his talents (not just academic ones) This meant he is well rounded & seen as fun to be around while still being well behaved.
I wish I could change to become confident & less negative but I don't know how.
My sister is visiting from OS & trying to plan this with my brother & sister has brought up lots of negative thoughts. I feel inferior. I'm not good in large groups as I feel unwanted & my brother has a large family with many grandkids so just his immediate family is huge without adding my family & my sister & her husband & 2 kids who will be visiting. My negative thoughts seem to be out of proportion but that makes me feel worse.
Elizabeth it is sad that you were bullied and it still affects you. I see you as a very compassionate strong person who likes to help others on the forum.
Have you tried trying to question those negative thoughts. ?
You say your not good in large groups but maybe you could see your family reunion as a just a few small groups and concentrate talking to one small group at a time.
Why do you feel inferior? I know yo have a lot on your plate but you take time to help others. That to me is a competent person.
Is there something you are look forward to with your sister and her family coming and also meeting with your brother and other sister?
I too find large groups hard which people don't understand as I am seen as talkative, but that is just with a few people.
Thanks again for your honesty. I don't think I have been much help as I am struggling with this myself.
Thanks Quirky. It is helpful to feel someone understands or relates to what I'm going through.
In large groups I see everyone else fitting in & wanting to spend time with each other. I either stay alone probably giving the impression I'm stuck up!!! when I I am worried about forcing myself on people who want to spend time with others. If I try to speak to people I'm too often feeling they are just too polite to leave me.
My sister & her family will be staying with my brother as I don't have room. I thought he would want this as he insisted on this in the past My SIL was upset with me saying that I wanted my sister to stay with me. I was being selfish. This time they are complaining about me not having her stay. We had to downsize when my husband became blind. I now feel guilty. I want to have time on my own to talk with my sister but I don't know if that will happen as everyone else will want time with her.
my inner critic has a field day with family. it seems no matter what we do we feel guilty.
I hope you get time with your sister alone and maybe lock up your inner critic while she is here so you can enjoy her company with out guilt.
I am sure your family can understand why you can’t have your sister stay.
I am wondering does anyone have a way to top their inner critic from making us feel guilty?
I was thinking about why some of us really struggle with inner critic & others don't.
I will share an analogy. Years ago I injured my knee. Initially the pain was so bad l was constantly reminded to be careful. Later the pain died down provided I didn't move it the wrong ways. I kept forgetting & would attempt to step down from kerbs the way I normally did. My brain was so used to doing it that way it wouldn't change. I would almost collapse onto the road & would scream in pain because my knee couldn't bend normally. Eventually my knee healed & I could walk normally.
I think this is the same with our thoughts. When you have been told you are bad as a child by family or school bullies & you are given evidence to back this up (I had no friends so I must be a terrible person). This idea becomes part of you and is extremely hard to change.
I wonder what others think. Does anyone have ideas to change these long term thought patterns
Thanks for your thoughts Elizabeth.
I came from a loving family and was not bullied at home or at school.
I just always felt different and did not fit in as I was big, clumsy, untody, messy and was hopeless at all sports.
None told me I was hopeless but I knew because I was never picked for any teams and I kept dropping the ball or missing the ball and I was slowest runner by a mile.
I can see that others who were made to feel worthless, they would then develop negative thought patterns.
The only main thing negative in my life was having bipolar . Now as well as negative thoughts I also feel guilty that I have no reason to have them compared to the suffering I read on the forums by others.
Changing long term patterns is hard. I know people who try and isolate a thought and challenge it.
I am interested in what others think.
I am saddened by your statement The only main thing negative in my life was having bipolar . Now as well as negative thoughts I also feel guilty that I have no reason to have them. You would never tell my husband he has no excuse for not feeling he's coping well because no one has said anything negative to him. You would be quick to remind him that he is blind & that affects how he does things & how he feels. In your case you have bipolar & I imagine it was there long before the more obvious symptoms showed. That is bound to affect how you think & feel about yourself.
There are some aspects of my husband's condition that really affect me but I deal with it as best as I can because I know it is not his fault it is the illness. In your case there are things you look back with regret but most of that is due to your illness not you as a person.
Elizabeth, thanks for your kind words. I suppose I just read of many people who had abusive childhoods, trauma. and PSTD but I never had this just loving parents.
Rationally I know feeling guilty is silly but it’s how I used to feel. I wondered why I got it when I many peoples illness was due to trauma.
I was diagnosed at 16 and had symptoms for maybe 2 years earlier and then I was in denial for 16 years but that’s another story.
There are so many stories on the forum of childhood abuse that I feel so lucky to have had a great childhood.