Who is this Internal Critic that I am talking about?
We have our own internal voice that keeps check on what we do and how we do anything in life. Yes, it’s a part of our Conditioned Mind. (yes, this is very abstract! 🙂
If it is not there, it is also not desirable. It’s because, then you won’t have a part of you assessing your performance and guiding you based on the feedback you get.
As we know that the feedback and opinions given by others about our performance can really be helpful, provided they are unbiased and intended for helping and growing. The same way the feedback and criticism that this so-called Internal Critic provides us can be beneficial in our journey called life.
For some (like me), the Internal Critic is over-critical and biased. This bias exists because of our early life experiences. The mind is conditioned in such a way that the Critic finds faults with you and your life most of the time. Appreciating your work and yourself is a rare event in this scenario!
When the Internal Critic is biased and over-critical, it loses its role as a supportive friend and starts to influence your creativity.
How did I be-friend with my Internal Critic?
I can think of four main aspects of this process.
Awareness is the first step
For all mental and emotional changes to happen, having awareness about the existing limiting pattern is the first step. Same holds true when we are dealing with the Internal Critic.
As I said before, initially I was not aware about its existence inside me. When I first came to know that my creativity was obstructed by no outside circumstance, but the ‘part’ inside me, I was upset. It was difficult to accept that I was programed to be over-critical and biased about my performance! An awareness that was difficult to get in terms with.
This realization gradually matured to an awareness that-
“Good! Now I know why things were not turning into my favor. I was working hard, but it was this Internal Critic that stopped me from taking credits for my work.”
Knowing that the Internal Critic has a Positive Intention
This may appear counter-intuitive for many. But this is true! The Internal Critic protects us from emotional pain. It makes us over-stretch ourselves in getting everything done perfectly. This striving for unusual perfection makes us believe that “I Am Worthy”, because I am committed to work hard and create only when it is ‘perfect’. It then helps us to feel secured and worthy as we don’t have to face criticism from outside.
The important realization was- the intention of Internal Critic is to make us work harder and strive for perfection, so that we can protect ourselves from outside criticism and negative judgments.
This is a Conditioned Pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving. This pattern, although it may protect us from outside criticism (as we won’t easily express ourselves and our work to others), it does more harm than good to ourselves. We doubt our worthiness. We lose spontaneity and creativity in our actions.
When I understood that although the critic inside me has a positive intention, the way it was trying to help me was not beneficial. On the contrary, it was keeping me from growing and expressing creatively. This understanding helped me not to fight with the Critic, but to befriend with it.
Catching the Internal Critic’s criticisms and judgments
I then learned to be aware about when and how this Critic was influencing my choices and expressions. I then learned to acknowledge its over-critical nature, but would attribute it as a conditioned pattern which was not serving for the highest good of mine. Rather than fighting with it, I learned to calmly take note of it’s judgments and criticisms. I gradually learned to evaluate validity of those opinions and decide whether to attach myself to it or not. This did not occur over-night. It happened gradually over a long period of time.
Expressing and Acting in presence of Fear
Let me tell you that, you tend to believe in what your Internal Critic has to say for a long period, even if you have realized how it stops your progress. You may gradually learn to ignore its criticism and judgments, but acting against it and doing what your hear says you to do, requires commitment and courage.
Initially, whenever I tried to act by ignoring what my Internal Critic had to say, I needed to gather lots of courage. I got fearful at times what would happen if I did not do what I was used to do.
Now I can say that my those efforts have helped me form new learned behaviors inside me. Theses are new patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Now I can express and act with courage even if the critic inside asks me to procrastinate and work harder to make things better before expressing.
I consider this as a big step in my journey call life. My learning now helps me understand what others with similar issues might be going through in this process.
I now KNOW that it might be tough in the beginning, but persisting helps you take a BIG STEP forward in your life.
If you have liked this, please share it with others. You may not know who may benefit by doing so!
Have a Resourceful Life,
Dr. Sudeep Shroff