Rising Above Your Inner Critic
We all have those voices in our heads that try and cut us down, make us feel small, or question our every move. It could be the devil on your shoulder, a parent’s doubting voice, or a deeply wounded part of yourself that is still living in survival mode. And damn, can they be harsh sometimes:
You’re not good enough.
You don’t look or act like other people do.
You’re not doing that right.
You’ll never be loved the way you want to be loved.
These voices have likely developed slowly over time, as a reaction to an experience or period in your life when it made more sense to be small, than to speak out and shine.
Your inner voices may have protected you for a long time now. And, they may have developed so gradually, that you might not even understand them to be separate from the rest of your soul.
But, these voices are separate from you. They are just renting space in your subconscious, waiting for you to shut them down.
It’s time to shut them down:
1) Give that voice a name. Call it The Hater. Call it Wonda. Just call it something that acknowledges that it is a different entity than YOU.
2) Notice when The Hater comes calling. One of my inner critics likes to hang around after big group work meetings. “Why did you say that?” “What is everyone thinking about you right now?” She is a tricky one. I used to think she was right to be questioning my every move. Then I learned that humility and self-awareness are healthy, but beating yourself up is just that, beating yourself up.
Start by just bringing your attention to the patterns, and noticing how you’re feeling. The shame, the doubt, the fear — those are your red flags that an inner critic may be hovering.
3) Shut it down. When that inner voice comes knocking, tell it off. Literally. Say, “Thank you for the lessons you have taught me. Thank you for the protection you used to provide. But I am no longer in need of your services, and you are no longer welcome here.” Then, scream at the top of your lungs into a pillow, or imagine yourself slaying the voice in a duel. Whatever you need to do, find a way to say thanks but no thanks, “I’m done with you.”
4) Self-soothe. After doing the work to banish that voice, take care of yourself. Treat yourself like the royalty you are, and be gentle. Give yourself something special, whatever that means for you.
5) Find your freedom. Get creative. Paint with abandon. Cook that extravagant meal. Give yourself the freedom to CREATE. My 6th grade art teacher used to tell us that there is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ brushstroke. Every line, every color, could be worked with and brought into the vision. Fall head first into the magical land of creativity, and revel in the idea that no move is ever wrong, just an opportunity to learn and grow.
It’s time to start paving a pathway forward, through the muck and confusion that inner voices can leave in their wake. It’s not easy, but it is possible.I honor your inner critics. I have no doubt that they were sent to teach you a lesson, to offer you a challenge to rise above.
You have the strength you need to rise above the inner voices whenever they might appear, and I can’t wait to see the new, freer Phoenix that begins to take shape on the other side.