Silence the Inner Critic
[dc]A[/dc]s I look through the various shots I’ve taken of myself, the negative voices begin. “Look at all those wrinkles around your eyes.” “Holy dark circles!” “I wish my face was thinner.” “I can’t possibly post this to the group without editing it or using some creative filters.”
During this month of February, I’m participating in a beautiful e-course titled, “Be Your Own Beloved,” with Vivienne McMaster. According to her website, this course is “a 28-day photo adventure designed to cultivate self-reflection and self-compassion through the practice of taking self-portraits.”
With this being the month of love, it seemed fitting to intentionally find ways to love myself each and every day.
In the morning, upon checking my email, I find a daily note from Viv with a photo assignment intended to help me see myself with more love and compassion. While some days have been a bit frightening on the vulnerability scale, all of them have been deeply meaningful.
One mission last week was titled, “Giving Our Gremlins a Talking To,” and we were charged with taking a photo that told our inner critics to zip it. We could write a message to them and take a picture of the page, we could prove how wrong they are in some way, we could display your defiance, or any combination of the above.
OK, pardon the language, but here’s how I tackled the assignment:
The text reads: “Hello my little monsters, I want to be open to receive all the joy and love this world has to offer, and you’re in my way. I know you think it’s way too scary to be vulnerable, but I know that that’s where all the magic happens. So, since I’m the boss of this show, I’m asking you to leave. You can trust me to take good care of myself. I’ve had a lot of practice. So… FUCK OFF.”
While starting to write my note on the photo, I felt a loving kindness for myself and even toward my monsters. As I went on, anger bubbled up. I was pissed at how they’ve been keeping me small. Stuck. Frozen. Then, as I wrote those final two words, I felt strong and empowered! Take a hike, monsters!
So often we let those pesky inner critics hold us back. Thoughts of “I’m not good enough,” or “Who do you think you are?” creep in. However, with a few simple strategies, you can be well on your way to silencing these monsters:
- Pay attention to when the voices speak and what they’re saying. By simply acknowledging them helps you to discover triggers and blocking beliefs. This will allow you to see where in your life you feel the most vulnerable and tentative. The words that the critic chooses will often speak to an old belief system that needs some fine-tuning.
- Write down their nasty messages. Everything is much less consuming and powerful when it’s out of your head. Take note of as many messages as you can. This act alone can work on breaking down their resolve.
- Respond to the negativity with positivity. For example, if your voice says, “Who’s gonna hire you?” respond with something like, “Any company would be lucky to have me. I’m hardworking, punctual, and eager.” Use this as an opportunity to debate and disprove your critic. In doing so, you also build up that younger part of you who may feel pretty beaten down. You have so much to offer this world, and it’s time to put the monsters to rest. Repeating these steps will send the message to your inner critic that he or she is no longer welcome. You’ll no longer be renting out space in your heart or head and only being paid with poison.
OK, you’re up. What lies does your inner critic tell you? How have these voices kept you from doing what you want? What would you do if there were no fears of criticism?
Please share in the comments below, and let’s keep this conversation going…
This is very interesting. If I go off topic I apologize, but this reminded me of something that happened to me in my 20s. I used to perform in community theatre and this particular show was the musical “Chicago”, I played one of the dancers in prison. Anyway, part of the dance number, we had to point one arm out and stand still for a beat or two before doing the next dance step. I would notice my hand would shake during this time and I was upset at myself because I thought I blew it, etc. When a friend of mine sat that night in the audience, on the front row, I mentioned my had shaking and how embarrassing it was. She told me she did not notice anything like that and she enjoyed the performance. This made me wonder how many times I may have had these “embarrassing” experiences. I have concluded, that usually people do not notice, and we are the ones who are getting in the way.
On another note, I have had friends point to parts of their face with sadness. It would end up being a pimple I had not noticed.
BTW Kerri, I think your photos are beautiful!
Much love, Cathi
Wow, great point, Cathi! I, too, have pointed out something on my face that I was self-conscious about, and had a total light-bulb moment when the person said back to me, “When I look at your face, I’m not looking at little parts of it. I’m looking at the beautiful whole, so I don’t even see what you mean.” Yes, that was a very kind comment, which I really appreciated, but it also made me really think. People see our wholeness, not our parts.
I think you’re right: much more often than not, what we criticize ourselves about, no one else even notices. Now if we can just remember that!
Thanks for joining the conversation.
My inner critic is a destructive naging, sabotaging pain in the a$$. I find it so frustrating. Sometimes I write her a letter just to get it out and shut her up then I rip it out and get rid of it lol. She seriously threatens my sanity.
That’s a great exercise, Barbara. I like the idea of writing it down and then tearing it up. Gets it up and out. I hope you’re firm and direct in your letters!
My inner critic would prefer white teeth. Not ivory which they are even after doing Zoom 10 years ago. I agreed to get whitening paste and use my old trays. The. She said she didn’t like my double chin. That was the last straw! I knew she would never stop. So now I
wear dark red lipstick which she adores and says it make my teeth look whiter. My inner critic also prefers that I wear a scarf to hide my double chins but sometime I just plain tell her to go to time out! :-)))))
Ah, Jan, so you’ve found a way to be in relationship with her. Interesting. Sounds like you’ve come up with some great compromises!
You always have a way of making me laugh! I so much loved this one! I think it should be marketed to most women, as that’s what we spend most of our time doing. Love it!
Thanks, Donna! I’m so glad you liked the post and that it resonated with you. Feel free to follow my lead and tell your inner critic to F OFF! 😉
Great stuff! Love it..haha.
Thanks, Paula! 🙂
You did make me chuckle Kerri. I am grateful to have learned over 40 yrs in business that we do sometimes need a ‘fuck off’ attitude, when enough becomes enough.