Inner criticism is experienced by most of us and it happens quite unconsciously. We often don't even realize how often it takes place and how deep it goes until we loose belief and confidence in ourselves and think we're not worth much.
Modern psychology and psychotherapy refer to inner critic as a subpersonality that judges and demeans a person making them believe they are bad, wrong, inadequate, worthless, guilty, and so on.
Where does the inner critic come from?
Inner judgement and criticism have roots in our childhood when we were forming our personality while being exposed to a wider environment that reflected on us and we reacted back to. During this time, our mind developed certain mechanisms mostly to protect us and to make us fit our immediate circles. Observing our environment, we created rules and obligations for our inner-self to follow and abide by to measure up to the standards of others and fulfil the idea they had about how we should look, act and behave. In this process, we created the self that was judged by how much measured up to the standards of our mind and however much it tried, we often failed in our strict attempts to be perfect which made the criticism and judgements start. The truth is, we could have never achieved those standards, simply because of being unique human beings that can't be compared to others whose story, personality, behaviour, and looks are by default different from us.
Unfortunately, we don't go so far to think as children and without this insight, may even loose an idea about who we truly are which allows the inner critic to live with us for a very long time.
How to eventually silence the voice of your inner critic?
What follows next isn't a description of an educational kind, but an exercise requiring your active participation to completely let go of your inner criticism.
1. Acknowledge the uniqueness of our true self the way it was created. The same self that we buried under the many protective layers of personas that are not truly you, with alien beliefs and behaviours inspired by the outer, not our inner world. This initial self is unique, magnificent and beautiful by default, the way it's always been.
There's a set of powerful tools to follow to enable this process, but the most important of all is this realization. The steps described below are inspired by teachings of Brandon Bays from her book 'Freedom Is'. I drew the essential information out of it and adapted it to create a clear process which worked for myself and my clients.
2. Forgive yourself for being a hard judge to yourself.
Create a peaceful meditative environment and make sure you can be alone during this time. Close your eyes and imagine a camp fire and your current self as well as your young self of the age you choose, standing close to it. Approach your younger self and talk to it honestly and openly.
Start with something along these lines: ''I do apologize to you for all my judgement. I was very hard on you. It was irrelevant what you did and how hard you tried; it was never enough because my expectations were too high. I was very strict to you. I was trying to make you fit in and when you didn't, I ended up judging you and I am very sorry for that. I am sorry I've forgotten to see the real beauty and grace in you. I wrongly believed others and their ideas and expectations about how you shall be, look and behave. I forgot to notice the true You. I am very sorry. I hope you can forgive me.''
Imagine your younger self receiving the message and looking back at you. However long this takes, allow it to happen. Open your arms widely for your younger true self to come to you and find love, care, respect and understanding in you. Allow all emotions you'll feel and the time to accept the forgiveness for all your judgement.
Again, speak to your younger self and image wrapping your arms around him/ her and hugging it with all your love. ''I am sorry for trying to change you to be like others. I am sorry for judging you cruelly every time that something didn't go as I expected. I am giving you my promise that it is changing from now on. There was never any need for this judgement - all the expectations and rules were impossible to meet. I am sorry for all that was. From now on, I will only see the light, love and simplicity of grace in you which is your true essence.''
Imagine you are taking a big old heavy coat full of pain off your younger self. And throwing in the fire in front of you.
3. Share love, acceptance and knowledge with yourself.
This step enables your own creativity and imagination. Think of 3 items you'd like to symbolically give to your younger self. It can be a toy you loved as a child, a symbol of your favourite activity i.e. paints and paint brushes, your favourite book, notebook and a pen, a bouquet of flowers, a musical instrument, a model plane, train etc. (Brandon uses a set of colourful balloons.) The most important is your personal connection to the gift.
The first item represents love to yourself. Allow your younger self to absorb the love represented by this item and to fill up by it completely.
Now gift yourself with a gift of self-acceptance. And again, allow your younger self to completely absorb its essence. The third is a gift of knowledge that you are unique, magnificent and beautiful being, a part of the divine being. Then, allow your younger self to merge with your today's self. And imagine the light of the camp fire creating a shield surrounding all around you.
When you feel the process is completed, breathe deeply for some time and then open your eyes. Now you're ready to live in the freedom of self-acceptance without the disturbing critical inner voice.
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