Listening to your inner critic can be the #2 cause of break ups. It certainly is the cause of misery for a lot of people, in a relationship with themselves. When you are self critical, it is difficult to maintain a functioning and thriving relationship with another person.
The Effect Listening to Your Inner Critic has on your Relationship
The state of our relationships can be a mirror of how we feel about ourselves. When we feel critical of ourselves and are always telling ourselves that we are lacking in an area, it is easy to snap at the other person and be critical of them. When we feel good about ourselves and recognize how valuable we are, we do not accept “less than” in our relationships.
Are you guilty of any of these behaviors?
Contempt is manifested by:
- tone of voice
- rolling of the eyes
- snorting in derision
- walking away from the other person while they are speaking
- name calling
Criticism is shown through:
- tone of voice
- critical language patterns
- name calling
Now, it is relatively simple to see when this behavior is being exhibited around you. What do you think happens when something similar happens inside your own mind?
Have you ever had the experience of doing something less than brilliant, rolling your eyes, snorting and then calling yourself a million names under the sun, in a tone of voice that is so contemptuous and critical?? Some times it is done out loud and sometimes it is done in the privacy of our own mind.
It is all damaging. All of it…and yet, it is so common and so easy to do…you wouldn’t treat your best friend as badly as you treat yourself sometimes, would you?
Your Inner Critic Has a Positive Intent
What if the part of you that you perceive as your inner critic, that voice and attitude in your mind that tears you to shreds when you make a mistake…that’s right…that one…what if that part wanted something good for you? How would you feel then?
Are you shaking your head yet? Is it easy or hard for you to fathom that there might be a positive intent for such a brutal and nasty aspect of yourself?
If we could imagine for just a moment that you really are doing the best you can…and I think you are…what purpose would the inner critic serve?
Perhaps…if I were to guess…it might be there to protect you. If a part of you thought that it was protecting you from shame, rejection or embarrassment, it might yell at you, criticize you, blame you…do just about anything to keep you from making a fool of yourself or being seen as “less than” by other people.
Communicating with Your Inner Critic
Here is a simple way to communicate with your inner critic and listen to the message that it has for you.
Take 15 minutes (set a timer) and write. Write with your dominant hand (for me it is my right hand) and ask yourself a question. “Is there a higher purpose, a positive intent for that critical part of myself?”
Answer the question, writing with your non dominant hand (for me that is my left hand). Write down the answer that comes to mind…don’t judge it…write it down. The key to doing this exercise is to go quickly, not stopping to criticize what you have put down on paper.
Continue, asking questions and writing the answers down. Your questions will depend on the answers that part gives you. When you get to the end of the questions and find the positive intent behind it, you might be surprised. It might be “keeping you safe” or “protecting you” or “making sure that you are loved” or “keeping you from making a mistake”.
When you find that higher intention that your inner critic wants for you, you can make peace. You actually want the same thing and after all…that inner critic is your creation…it’s not real…it is just a representation of your negative thoughts.
Instead of killing your inner critic, see what the message is that it has for you. Embrace your inner critic, make friends…if you find it hard to do, you can imagine that you can change the sound of the negative voice inside your head, soften it’s tone, change the words…imagine how different saying “You’re a jerk” in a loud, harsh tone sounds from saying “You’re a jerk” in a slow, soft sensual voice…it doesn’t have the same impact, does it? : D
When you make friends with that negative part of yourself that you call the inner critic, you will see a difference in how you treat other people and how they treat you. Criticism will fade away and love will replace it. People will not treat us any better than we treat ourselves. You need to set the example for them, and you can, can’t you?
"Drive your own life…you deserve to, don't you?" Sherie Venner
Image Credit: David Castillo Dominici
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