Everyone has an inner critic with whom they either feud or forgive. Here are five ways to approach your inner critic with compassion.
- Once you hear it, breathe it out: The appearance of the inner critic can be intimidating and overwhelming. Many of us feel abused by this voice because it tends to lean toward the negative side of life, hence the name “critic”. Our first response has been, for many years, to numb out this inner critic or act out against it. We used drugs and alcohol to prove the inner critic wrong- and to prove the inner critic right. To begin developing an approach of compassion to our inner critic, we have to begin with the breath. By beginning with the breath we can bring ourselves to a compassionate center where we are calm and steady in order to respond to our inner critic rather than react. We start to mindfully become aware of what our inner critical voice is saying and what we are hearing from it. Without judging or labeling our awareness, we can start to understand it.
- Work with your therapist to identify the voice: We are not born with an inner critical voice. In fact, we are not born with a voice at all. We develop our consciousness and our inner narrative over time, taking cues from the people and environment around us. Our inner critical voices are usually formed by people who have criticized us in different ways. We develop a narrative of criticism based on beliefs, which are based on the actions and words of others. Themes like worthlessness are common, formed by various beliefs which have been demonstrated to us over time. Working with a therapist, we can identify the different forms the inner critic takes on- for example, the critical parent, critical teacher, or critical coach.
- Step out of self by being of service to others: Living inside the head, the inner critical voice gains its power by keeping you trapped within your thoughts. Through recovery we learn that one of the best ways to get out of one’s head is to get into someone else’s. Meaning, being of service by listening to someone else is a good way to get out of your own thoughts while helping someone with their own. You’ll notice that you can hear the presence of another voice in other people’s woes. Being aware of your struggle with your own inner voice, you can have compassion for others’ experience with theirs, helping you in turn have more compassion for your inner voice.
- Have a conversation with your inner critic: Most often, the inner critical voice wants something it believes it isn’t getting. Whatever the expectations are that were set by the original owner of the criticism continue living on in your head. Your experiences in recovery are teaching you acceptance by learning how to accept where you are at and what you have at any given moment.
- Have compassion for your inner critic: Conversing with your inner critic means not shaming or blaming the voice, but showing it compassion. You know how it feels to live with high expectations which feel real. Learn to recognize that the person who that critical voice belongs to must have suffered from their own critical voice as well. Separating yourself from the voice and the potential generations of voices which created it you can have compassion for it and love it out of existence.
Enlightened Solutions wants to offer you a safe environment of compassionate healing where you start your journey to recovery with integrative care. Fusing together holistic, alternative, and clinical practices with 12 step philosophy, our partial care programs create a system for transformation and transcendence.
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