What is our Internal critic
An internal critic is an inner voice inside us. This voice always talks to us like an endless chain of thoughts. People refer to it as an internal critic because it’s always critical of everything that you do.
Humans store experiences in the form of memories. These memories remind us of the positive and negative experiences we have had over the years. All this knowledge is what the critic thinks from. It can only talk to us from what we have experienced in our past.
The critic was a way for us to stay away from danger when humans lived in jungles centuries back. These days we are usually safe but the rapid pace of technology growth has changed our way of life much faster than the rate at which our psychology has evolved.
The critic still wants to save us from loss or pain however by doing thins it’s keeping us in a comfort zone away from any growth. The critic is a hypocrite as well. It’s only there to criticize you. It’s like a bully inside us.
Its qualities resemble that of a bully as well. It’s judgemental, cynical and constantly encourages self-defeating behavior. When we are pursuing tasks that focus on present pain and delayed gratification the critic tries to talk us out of effort and instead points towards the task that provides us with instant gratification.
When you aim to workout or study the critic will convince you to sleep for a while. If you do sleep it will criticize you for wasting your time. Thus even if you listen to it, the critic will turn around and criticize you for the very act.
How is the critic formed
Why do we have this internal critic you wonder. Over the years we have created this critic on an unconscious level. It has now formed an internalized image of self that tries to tell us who we are.
Shaped by the experiences we have faced all over our lives. The attitudes of our parents, teachers, siblings, society at large and sometimes even our peers shape this critic inside of us. This critic is a master of deception. It can use plenty of tactics to deceive us.
Why do we listen to this critic? Why do we let it diminish our self-esteem this way? We would never let any other person do the same with us. Then why do we do this to ourselves?
The answer is because we aren’t self-aware of these thoughts. The thoughts of this internal critic are just that, thoughts however we begin to think of them as the truth without questioning it back.
Work on a task that requires a principled approach or delayed gratification our critic will be right there standing in between our goal and us.
Some of the deception tools that the inner critic uses are denial, rationalization, projection, distortion, polarisation, emotional reasoning, overgeneralization
Denial– Refusing to believe the truth about ourselves and our behaviors. Most self-destructive tendencies can never be cured because we don’t even want to admit those to ourselves. I don’t have a smoking problem even though I smoke a packet every week.
Rationalization– When we think of hypothetical reasons to excuse our behaviors and justifying them. I know smoking isn’t good for me but it helps me relax.
Projection– Projecting our behaviors and aspects onto others. It incorporates blame-shifting. Just like a Bully projects his or her vulnerabilities and insecurities onto the target or when you choose infidelity you blame your partner because they weren’t more available for you thereby shifting the blame.
Distortion– A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs. For example, I’ll have a cheat day today because I already had a sweet so it’s no use anyway. Our thoughts only accepting polarising opposites
Emotional reasoning- Interpreting our feelings to accurately reflect reality. I feel bad so maybe, it’s because the people around me have been treating me badly.
Overgeneralisation– Blowing up a single negative situation into a life long prophesy. I failed one test so I am stupid and can never be successful in my life.
Courtney continues that these are to avoid the fundamental realities of being human–
Death, Solitude, Meaninglessness, Freedom of choice. To avoid these four truths we keep deceiving ourselves.
How do we subdue our internal critic?
1)Identifying the critic. – We need to step back and realize when the critic talks to us. when we begin to be more aware of our thoughts we can truly point out the critic
2)Separating ourselves from the critic- When we can realize the existence of this critic we can call out its deception. We realize who we are rather than the version critic wants us to believe.
3)Introspect the voice of that critic- When we begin to be aware of our critic we realize where it originates from. For me, it was my mother’s voice. I would scold myself for even the smallest things. When we can trace back it’s origins it loses its grip on us.
4)Talk to your critic as an individual- When the critic begins it’s routine of emotional abuse we can talk to it. Reply with “I think that isn’t true ” call out the deception.
5)Reply with rationale – When the critic is found out it loses its power. Even if the critic tries to lower your self-esteem you can speak the truth and empathize with your sense of self.
“Even though I wasn’t perfect I tried and improved.” Try to talk to yourself into the things you are passionate about.
6)Act against critic- Act on a long term philosophy and choose actions that are difficult in the moment but give delayed gratification in the form of growth. We need to be able to act even though it doesn’t feel good. That quality is the most essential in defeating the internal critic within us.
The critic inside us just as the name suggests always keeps criticizing us and tries to stifle our growth. It keeps us in a position where we don’t feel pain and stay in our comfort zone.
As we have learned over and over again growth can never happen when we are comfortable. The only way to grow and improve in anything you do is to struggle and break the limits we have set for ourselves.
Here’s something I wrote a while back 😛 –
A life lived from memories is a comfortable one but an uncomfortable life is a memorable one.
We need to be willing to speak the truth to ourselves and challenge the critic on its deceptive lies. When we can do that and keep doing our work consistently we might be able to achieve much more than we think we are capable of.
So this week whenever you feel the retaliation of critic as you work to try and use these steps to identify it and be more self-aware. It’s a life long process to be committed to your actions and I wish you all the best for these first steps.
We urge you to explore what your callings are. Do you possess the courage to chase them? We provide a free ebook called The perfect beginning that might help you in finding those callings.
Well, that’s all for this post. Have a good day and a good life.