The role of criticism.
Criticism is a powerful concept; it can prompt a multitude of reactions both positive and negative. Constructive criticism can often help others see things that they would not otherwise see. This constructive criticism can help improve the way you do things with the focus on achieving something. I often look to the people close to me to give me a constructive opinion on something I have done or changes that I could make for the better. However, there is a fine line between constructive criticism and making harsh judgements on others and while criticism has the power to help, it also has the power to hurt. Often the harshest critic is the one that lives inside us, our inner critic.
The inner critic; the harshest of them all.
We have all heard the toxic voice of our inner critic saying that you are not good enough in some way. Your inner critic feeds off all the insecurity and negativity within your life and magnifies it to belittle and undermine your confidence.
Jay Earley believes that there are seven types of the inner critic; the perfectionist, the taskmaster, the inner controller, the guilt tripper, the destroyer, the underminer and the conformist (moulder). Having read the descriptions I have seen all of these inner critics in the people I have known throughout my life. I personally have elements of the destroyer and the conformist in my own inner critic; I can be extremely negative about myself and I also have a desire to ‘fit in’ that feeds my inner critic at low points in my life.
I have spent a lot of time listening to my inner critic and believing what it says to me. I have missed opportunities, blamed myself repeatedly for even the simplest of mistakes and spiralled into depression at times in my life. My inner critic has twisted reality to make me believe I am worthless and let the demons inside my mind run free and fight logic and reasoning.
I have come to realise that my inner critic needs to be muted in some form or another. Being exposed to constant negativity can have a massive impact on how I live my life. Since having CBT and doing courses in mindfulness I have realised that I am the only one that can control the most negative voice of them all. I wanted to share the steps I will be taking in order to deal with my inner critic; I cannot silence it forever but I can learn to filter its thoughts and determine whether it is constructive or not.
The second person outlook
If your friend said the same negative thoughts about themselves, what would your response be? I have often heard friends say something negative about themselves which I believe is totally untrue. How many times have you heard someone who is a great parent say that don’t do enough, a beautiful person call themselves ugly or someone who excels at their job say that they are not worthy of it? You need to apply this logic to yourself; the next time you think ‘I am not worthy’ think about what your friends and families response to that would be. The people that care for you and love you would not let people say that about you so why say it about yourself?
Is it constructive?
Do these thoughts help you in your everyday life? Is it a thought that will ultimately help you in the long run or is it pure negativity? Imagine you are the jury in a trial; would this type of phrase be stricken from the record as pure conjecture? If it does not help you then surely you do not need to dwell on it. I used to find that I would incessantly worry about things and this was partly to do with my inner critic magnifying things in order to destroy me. I was given the idea of writing them all down in a special book. The reason for doing this is that if you write them down they are less likely to stay whirling around your head, bringing you down. I also used to paint and draw over the things I had written as if I expelled them from my mind and covering them with something beautiful.
Is it out of your control?
If you cannot control it then it is not productive and therefore does not need to be registered. Your inner critic can often turn other peoples opinions into something to shame you with but you cannot control the way they feel or react. You also cannot control things that happen around you like cars breaking down, traffic jams or the weather, so why let your inner critic tell you it’s ‘just my luck’?
You can control how you deal with the situation and focus on a productive outcome rather than falling into the habit of wallowing in your own self-blame. I always find that planning something, decluttering or doing some housework can help with this mindset; I take control of something that is productive and will benefit me both immediately and in the long run.
We all make them on a regular basis and even the most successful of people have at one point or another made mistakes, sometimes catastrophic. However, the successful and happy people accept the mistake, learn from it and move on stronger and more resilient. Mistakes are the inner critic’s main source of fuel and if you dwell on them too much you make the fire even worse. You need to accept that the mistake has been made, think of why and how it was made and plan to improve your actions in the future because we can control that aspect, how we move forward.
If your inner critic is that fierce that it consumes your thoughts constantly then a step back from the situation may be needed. While trying to change my website over from wordpress.com to self hosted I had reached my limit and my inner critic told me to completely stop blogging altogether so I took a step back, had a cup of coffee, cleaned the fridge and sat in the garden enjoying the fresh air and my kids laugh as they played.
I used my mindfulness practice to plant my feet firmly on the ground, focus on the moment and clear my mind. Mindfulness and meditation is a great way of clearing out the opinions of the inner critic, even if you only do it for five minutes; it is five minutes of focusing on the moment with judging. My mindfulness trainer says ‘we only have moments left to live’ and I do not want to spend these moments listening to the harshest critic of them all.
Are you susceptible to the inner critic’s voice? Are there any other ways that you deal with your inner critic, please let me know in the comments?
Ciao for now beauties xx