How to deal with your Inner Critic 

You may read or hear that you need to fight against your inner critic in order to gain control of it, but you don’t. In fact it is the last thing that you need to do because fighting against it will only make it stronger Initially it will work and silence the inner critic but as the inner critic is powerful in the dark (not in one’s conscious awareness), it will either spill out unknown to you or it will come back much stronger than before.  

The inner critic is like the judge, jury and jailer all in one, so it can be quiet a powerful force. Rather than fight it you need to get to know it, to befriend it, in order not to be a prisoner to it. Whilst you may feel that the critical part is your enemy, it is not in so far as it feels that it is protecting you. It feels that it is protecting you from feelings such as hurt, rejection, humiliation etc. It wants what is best for you, it wants you to be loved and accepted, to be the best that you can and yet the impact of it can have the opposite effect. It is a young part, an ‘immature part’ that has not developed emotionally, it is stuck at a young age, it thinks and acts like a child and over time it becomes stronger and more distorted. 

How to get to know your Inner Critic or Critical Part 

The inner critic is complex and convoluted and working on it alone can be very difficult. If it is strong and harsh it is advisable to see a professional who has an in-depth knowledge of it in order to work effectively on it together. 

The following are some tools that may help with awareness but if you find that it is becoming uncontrollable then you should seek professional help. Observe your language. Do you use phrases such as “I should”, “I ought to”, “I need to”, “I have to”? If you do, then more than likely you have a strong inner critic. What are the situations that trigger your inner critic? Is it when you are about to make positive changes in your life such as losing weight, going for a promotion, standing up for yourself, trying to do a good job etc. or is it when you start to feel anxious or your mood starts slipping. Is it when you are faced with a new situation, meeting new people, meeting people in authority or power, or is it when you make a mistake, the list is endless.  Or is it when you are in situations that you feel vulnerable or unsure of ? Is it when you feel hurt or upset by someone or something or when you feel sad?

How do you hear your inner critic, is it thoughts that filter into your conscious awareness, is it a voice? Is it your voice or someone else’s? Does it remind you of someone that you know? Is the tone of the inner critic harsh and unrelenting? Is it mean and nasty, is it bullying, does it sound like a Sergeant - Major or is does it sound like a friend wanting what’s best for you?Keeping a diary or a journal of the thoughts and messages of The Inner Critic may help. This will help you to get to know the inner critic and to help with separating it. If you find that it becomes too strong then it is important to leave it or to seek help with it.

Observing your body when you feel your critical part is active. For example do you tense up, feel a knot in your stomach, tingling down your arms into your hands, or feel a constriction in your throat or your chest? Try and observe and get to know these feelings. When do you experience the feelings, is it before you hear the dialogue of the inner critic? 

Compassion. The Inner Critic is usually fearful, it is afraid of losing control. Remember that this is a young part that is stuck at a young age. Standing back and feeling compassion for this fearful part will help you get to know it. It won’t feel as threatened by you and go into hiding or become stronger which is what happens when you fight against it. 

It is important to become aware of how active and vocal it is. Is it there constantly or are there specific events or situations that trigger it? With this process of separation you know what you are working with. The Inner Critic does not like the light shining on it or becoming the focus of attention because then it feels threatened and fears annihilation.
Awareness and observation are hugely important in getting to know and being able to separate out the critical part. Once you separate out from it you can begin to see that it is a part of you and it is not all of you. This will then help to lessen the power and control that it has.   

It can be very difficult to work alone on the inner critic. The process takes time and patience and it can be slow work but well worth it in the end. Just remember that it has been there for a long time and it feels that it has a purpose so it deserves respect.

© Copyright 2012 Anne-Marie Hearne