The never ending sneakiness of the inner critic!
Do you have this friend, you know the one, most of us know someone like this, a person who’s only joy in life is ripping the back off someone else. It might be someone they barely know, a person who just happens to be walking past that they tear into, but boy do they love ripping into someone you both know, occasionally under the guise of being concerned.
The poisonous ridicule that drips off their tongue is toxic to everyone and no-one is safe from it. Her words are highly corrosive and damage everyone who hears them, including herself.
It could be what someone’s wearing, their hair and make-up, or whether they’ve gained weight or look tired and stressed, and of course there’s plenty of speculation on what’s behind those changes. Whatever it is, she spots a person’s vulnerability and pulls at it, like a thread that will unravel the whole frigging jumper.
And yet, when she’s called out on it, she’s immediately defensive and says something like ‘I didn’t mean anything, it was just a joke.’ Yeah, because crushing someone’s feelings, creating insecurity and a sense of inadequacy is so funny,
Here’s the thing though, that bitch (and I know you were thinking that as well as me!), she’s worse on herself than on anyone else. Can you imagine if that’s what she says on the outside, the kind of sh!t she says on the inside. All that criticism turned inwards. magnified and on 24/7. No wonder she’s such a cow!
The people who are most critical are the one who are most self critical, that’s why they’re always armoured up and attacking. Its a defensive technique in the hope you won’t see how hopeless, shameful and inadequate they believe they are. Because that’s how they feel about themselves they go on the offensive to deflect attention.
All this hurt is self inflicted. All comes from within their own mind. They learned judgement and criticism from their early care givers and now they keep perpetuating that cycle, punishing themselves all the time.
And continuing the abuse every time she turns the poison outwards and sprays it over others.
The critical voice that each of us has is the most damaging thing we can listen to, it magnifies our faults, minimises our good and uses hindsight to hit us with what we should have done, could have done and didn’t do. And it is always on repeat and its relentless.
We might not be as vicious to others as the person I described above, but many of us are significantly vicious and hurtful to ourselves.
Can you stop it?
Yes, but not by fighting it. Not by resisting. That simply makes it stronger.
When your inner critic keeps bringing up the past and what you could have done differently, what you should have done and said instead of what you did do, simply agree with it and say, ‘Yes, maybe I did mess up there but I didn’t know any better. I was doing the best I could with what I knew at the time. Now, I know better and I’ll do better next time.’
When its criticising what you’re doing in the moment, the old ‘What the F@ck are you trying to do? That’s never going to work, You’ll never be able to do that,’ kinda thing, again, say ‘Thank you,’ and follow it up with, ‘I appreciate your viewpoint, I know you’re trying to keep me safe and I’m grateful for that but I’ve got this. I want to see if this is going to work for me.’
And if it keeps raising the alarm, keep agreeing, ‘Yes, maybe this is a bad idea but I’m curious to see what happens.’
When you stay calm, when you keep agreeing and diffuse the frustration and fear, you confuse your fight/fight/freeze response and confusion diffuses your internal antagonism.
The inner critic may be an infernal horror sometimes but it really is trying to do its best for you to keep you safe from harm. But it does that by keeping you small, by reminding you of times in the past when things went wrong and you ended up hurt.
Its actually like the bitchy friend above, themselves hurting and then lashing out with pointed remarks. And maybe, if you gave her the benefit of doubt, she might be pointing out where possible harm/ridicule could come from, not realising the damage she doing in her own ugly communication.
Befriend your inner critic, treat it like a stray dog, feed it scraps from your table and soothe its fear. But don’t listen to it, don’t allow it to stop you doing what is right and don’t allow it to punish you for the past. You, like all of us, were doing the best you could at the time.
Keep growing, keep learning, keep pushing back your comfort zone and moving forward and as you do so, be compassionate to yourself. Because you deserve your love and kindness too.