The inner critic … are you familiar with yours?
We all have voices that chatter in our heads throughout the day – and the inner critic is one of them. Learning to recognize these voices, or sub-selves, as I call them, is a powerful and transformative time tool.
As you become more and more skilled at identifying (and countering) the voice of your inner critic, for example, you’ll develop new clarity about how this voice directly shapes your time choices … and how you can change that!
The fundamental fact that I hope you’ll take away from this post is that your inner critic steals your time, takes you out of the moment, and radically distorts how you perceive and feel about yourself and the world (and people) around you.
And it’s not just the words! It’s the disdainful, judging tone of voice, the rolling eyes, and the scolding wag of the index finger. Words, gestures, tone – they all underscore the message and amplify the energy of the inner critic.
Identifying Your Inner Critic
But how do you recognize your inner critic’s voice? Well, for starters, do any of these statements or questions sound familiar?
- What are you doing THAT for?
- You should NEVER do it that way!
- THIS is the way you should do it!
- That’s nice, but you really could be getting straight A’s if you tried!
There are many variations on these statements. Some hold a judgment. Others are designed to inhibit you or make you feel guilty.
Inner Critic Exercise
Here’s a revealing exercise that will help you learn to recognize the uniquely disturbing and undermining voice of your own inner critic.
While the messages of the inner critic are pretty consistent for all of us, their particular form is very much shaped by our experience. The tone and specific words of your critical messages will be different from mine. They will often echo messages you heard as a child.
1. Write down a critical message you give yourself regularly.
2. Under the critical message, answer these 2 questions:
- How do you respond to this criticism?
- How does your response affect your daily time choices?
3. Now counter this critical message with a strong message in your adult voice. This will be a calm, rational message that doesn’t argue with the inner critic, but simply states the facts.
4. Under your adult reply, answer 2 follow-up questions:
- How does your energy change with this alternative message?
- What do you learn?
Repeat this exercise frequently. You will learn how to recognize the voice of the inner critic, see and feel how it undermines you, and offer an alternative response that is grounding and validating.
You may be pleasantly surprised by how effectively you can change old patterns. Writing down your responses provides you with essential objectivity. You discover how unrealistic and unnecessary your inner critic is. And as you reassert control over how you use your mind, your power over your time multiplies, as well.
Give it a try – and let me know how it goes!
© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.