Day 114 – Living with the Inner Critic

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The Amazing Brain

The brain is an amazing problem solving organ. When you pose a question, the brain immediately goes into doing mode and comes up with the answers. The trouble is, we don’t always ask the right questions, especially when the inner critic is doing the talking.

Meet the Inner Critic

The inner critic is that nagging negative voice that’s never satisfied. That voice that’s ready to pass judgement and point out how much I’ve screwed up at a moment’s notice. I’ve lived with her for so long that I mistook her as my identity – I saw her as me. It’s like I’ve been tuned into the Jeena Negativity Talk Show all of my life but didn’t know it. On this show, there’s never room for anything less than perfection. There’s no margin for error. Every misstep can spell disaster of magnanimous proportions.

When I make a mistake, the inner critic asks “why are you such an idiot?” and the brain happily goes out and open the drawer labeled “idiot” to find the answer. Let me tell you, that is one very large file.

Living this way – in a constant fear of my inner critic and always wanting to be “perfect” is exhausting. There’s no room for any other parts of me to shine through, the creative, the funny, the goofy, or the silly.

Hello, Kindness

In moving towards having a gentler and kinder relationship with myself, I started by noticing the inner chatter.

When I’m giving my well rehearsed speech and I screw up my line and the inner critic starts freaking out, I can say “ah ha! There it is again.” Next, I acknowledge that this experience I’m having is a common human experience. After all, lots of people giving speeches screw up their lines or lose their train of thought. This normalizes the experience. Then I gently remind myself to be kind.

“You screwed up, you give terrible speeches, you suck” is definitely not very helpful when you’re trying to get through a speech. Listening to a play-by-play on how badly you screwed up isn’t useful either. Arguing with the inner critic or saying “STFU!” doesn’t work either.

Taking a deep breath, smiling at myself for being human and finishing the speech with some kindness – that feels more consistent with the person I want to be.

I recommend Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind for more on this topic.

 

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

 

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