The Cook Awakening

What If My Inner Critic is Right?

October 13, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I led a group recently focusing on the Inner Critic. You know, the part of your psyche that picks apart everything you do, everything you are, and tells you you’re not good enough? I wrote about that last January. It’s a painful, pernicious voice in your head. We all have an Inner Critic, shaped by the culture and experiences we grew up with.

That voice in your head can sound like the Voice of God, All Knowing, Absolutely Correct About All Things.

I had a client once who would say, “But, what if my critic is right?”

It can be a subtle thing to discern in working with this part of yourself. The fact is, your Critic may indeed be right about the things it attacks you with. You may, in fact, be… fat/skinny, shy/loud, “too old”, mistaken about things, not very “beautiful” (by media standards), not a perfect parent, etc.

It is true, he is not good at ballet.

How do you find the part of you that knows that these “awful things”, that may or may not be true, are not as important as your Critic makes them out to be?

There is a part of you that is untouched by all this inner drama. It is untouched by all the outer drama in your life as well. There are many names for this — Aware Ego, Original Self, Original Face, Inner Child, Awareness, Love, … It is the Self that looked through your eyes when you were first born.

It’s possible to remember this as a Truth. Who you are has never been harmed, and can never be harmed. This is not to minimize the effects of trauma and neglect on our nervous systems. It is simply to say that skillfully connecting with the part of us that remains pure and free helps heal the parts of us that have been wounded. Trauma can unwind when we experience ourselves as that which witnesses the trauma.

Ironically, it’s this innocent part that the Critic is trying to protect by keeping you “acceptable to the tribe”. All of the criticisms your Critic lobs at you are simply out of anxiety that you’ll be kicked out of society if you’re not a good little citizen, and this child will be hurt or might die.

The most effective method I’ve found to work with my Inner Critic is to agree with it. Resisting it just fuels the fire. But, when you agree with it, all the wind drops out of its sails. I often do this with a quiet mental note — “Yes”. Recently I’ve been going back and forth between telling my Critic, “Yes” and “It’s okay”. The Critic is really just a frightened child.

This is like the martial art Aikido. The original goal of Aikido was “to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury”. We use the energy of the Critic to defuse its harmfulness. We agree with it, without wallowing in self pity around whatever its attack is. Without harming a part of us that’s just trying to help, in what’s become a misguided attack.

With love, if you can muster that. Or, if not, with at least some neutrality. Or, if not that, even with a bit of resignation. That’s better than war. It’s a good first step.

You may experience some grief as you acknowledge some of these things are true. But, I suspect grief is easier to work with than being under attack all the time. And, you’re also likely to experience a glimpse of your original, innocent Inner Child. Give it a try.

If you’re suffering at the hands of your Inner Critic, I hope you can give yourself permission to get some support. I have space in my schedule for a few clients. If not from me, from another counselor.

You’re worth it. You matter. Please, remember that.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 13th, 2019 at 2:57 pm and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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