Befriending Your Inner Critic?

I am just thrilled to be presenting to you this valuable, heart-filled, and information packed article by guest blogger andmy colleague Annemarie Miner, MA. Annmarie is a gifted coach who can help you move through the voices of criticism and doubt. You can learn more about Annmarie at Enjoy!

There is a saying “What you resist, persists”. I love it because it reminds me that my old coping mechanism of ignoring my negative feelings never works. I’ve learned that if I’m feeling fearful, pretending that I’m not or getting angry with myself does not help. It’s not until I am able to acknowledge my true feelings with understanding and compassion that my burdens lighten and release.

I have found the same to be true of my relationship with my inner critic. Through my work with hundreds of clients, I’ve learned we all have an inner critic. For years I didn’t even know I had an inner critic, and I actually thought I was pretty kind to myself. Then I read Louise Hay’s book, “You Can Heal Your Life” in which she advised listening to the way you talk to yourself and stopping all self-criticism forever. The day I decided to start paying attention, I was horrified to discover how hard I was on myself.

From the moment I woke up, I began berating myself. If I wasn’t criticizing my appearance, I was judging something I’d said to someone, or beating myself up about the quality of my work. I soon realized that if I was in a relationship with me- I would consider myself verbally abusive and break up with me immediately.

I have tried many ways of dealing with my inner critic over the years including trying to ignore her, and getting angry at her, but the strategy that has worked the most effectively has been to befriend her. Why befriend your inner critic? It goes back to the wisdom of “what you resist, persists”.    Ignoring or getting angry never works long- term. It may shut the critical voice up in the moment but soon it will come back louder than ever.

In order to befriend your inner critic it helps to understand how and why they came into being. Most developed during our childhoods to make us happy or keep us safe.

Humor and play are essential for befriending your inner critic. You may want to name them and start asking them why they are there and what they want. I named my critical voice “Betty”. When I asked Betty why she was so hard on me what came up was that she was really worried that I could not handle life’s difficulties. Turns out she was really afraid that I was not smart enough or competent enough. She berated me in an attempt to make sure I did what I needed to do in order to survive. In her own grim way, she had been trying to help and protect me.

I thanked Betty for all her help over the years but explained she and I would be trying a different way of relating going forward. I explained I had learned over the years that I was actually quite strong and capable and could handle life’s struggles with love and faith. Whenever she felt anxious, I asked Betty to lovingly let me know rather than hurling harsh insults. It worked. Whenever I hear Betty trying to get my attention now, I lovingly thank her for her concern and remind her that all is well and I’ve got it covered.

In befriending my inner critic, I learned to love myself completely, even the parts that at first glance appeared unlovable. Another bonus of befriending your inner critic? As you learn to love and accept yourself completely, your capacity to love others increases too.

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