The Inner Critic

The Inner Critic

Most of us have one; that voice (maybe your voice) that is heard when you’ve made a mistake, not performed too well, or perhaps just set your expectations too high.
So, what can be done to help silence that voice?
Ignore it? Maybe, avoidance or suppression is a defence mechanism that can work for you however, a healthier way is to identify, befriend and investigate that inner voice.
How to recognise it? For most the inner critic appears as a voice, often with an attitude or tone that’s recognisable, or perhaps its more recognisable by a feeling – maybe a bit flat, anxious or depleted in energy – but however the inner critic appears in you, learn to recognise and get to know it for what it is, a Critical State.

How to befriend it? As with any relationship, it good to start with an acknowledgement “ah, hello! here you are again’, then take the time to get to know each other. How to respond to the inner critic? Having recognised and acknowledged your inner critic experience, ask yourself why. Why are you hearing this voice, feeling this way? The important thing is to question yourself gently, to be compassionate with yourself.

Once you become aware of why the inner critic appears you can begin to dig a little deeper into what TRIGGERS its appearance. No judgement on yourself, or others, just note what seems to be the case.

Each time you look or simply ‘be’ with conscious awareness about what happening in you, a little more resilience and understanding is built, a little more respite is earned.

What else can you do? Many people find using a journal to record and track your progress is useful. Reading out affirmations, or better still making up your own targeted positive affirmations, are helpful at these times. Taking up a mindful art hobby or body practice has good results too. Sometimes listening to talks or following a guided meditation are most useful.

The RAIN meditation, originally given by Insight teacher Michele McDonald and made famous by Tara Brach’s excellent work, was practiced and offered to us by Buddhist monks and nuns as a means of having tools to work with difficult or challenging emotional states. This meditation can be used to help strengthen your capacity to deal with these experiences and lead to a calm and steady state of mind and being.

My own adaptation of the RAIN meditation, called ‘Working with Challenging Emotions’ can be listened to here