Your inner critic does not have to win.
I can say that with confidence because mine was the worst. My insecurities got in my way big time. They stopped me from trying things. They caused me to second guess myself. And they but strain on my relationships.
But they don’t anymore!
If you have experienced trauma or high levels of stress, it is likely your inner critic is very loud. It can arise in thoughts that say, “You’ll never be good enough,” “You’re so lazy,” “You always self sabotage.” Your inner critic can even look like self improvement or self help. It may say things like “ You shouldn’t let your perfectionism get in the way,” which on first glance may seem helpful but is actually criticizing the part of you that wants to do well.
Sometimes the inner critic does not make itself known in thoughts but shows up in defeatist body language and bodily pain. Other times we may try to get ahead of it by defending ourselves before anyone has attacked us. We accuse folks of thinking a way of us that we are really projecting from the inside.
The most common misconceptions are that talking your inner critic out of its opinion will stop it or that we need a loud inner critic or we wouldn’t get things done.
Our inner critic has a role and that is to protect us.
The harm comes when we don’t give it its voice fully and in proportion with the other parts of us which want to take risks with our feelings and expressions. All these messages our body gives us are important and desire to be heard. It’s not about having a discussion between them and making some executive decision. It’s about giving each their time to express their needs.
The first step to quieting the critic to a volume which feels healthy and in your capacity to hold, is to acknowledge it.
The best way to do this is by sensing where it is showing up in your body or body’s periphery. When you call her into your awareness what do you feel, see, sense, hear? Stay with those sensations and see if you can gently say hello to them, sit next to them, or acknowledge them in a way which is non threatening. Don’t try to change anything. Instead let the feelings know you see them and you can be with them.
Once you’ve established that connection you may want to ask them to show you more about what they need, what they want or don’t want to happen and the ways and why they are protecting you. You will learn a lot.
This is deep work and a lot can arise. I suggest working, especially, if you have had trauma with a somatic coach or professional who can hold space for you in your process. Check out my guided meditation through this process here.
Other parts are likely to come to the surface to argue with your critic and you’ll need your time with them too.
In time, you will be able to hold more and more of what were seemingly warring parts inside of you in balance and in presence. This alone will lessen the impacts of stress and trauma present in the body and create a life of increased ease.