We all have an inner critic within us, the small nagging voice that tells us that we are not good enough, pretty enough skinny enough. It is sometimes never-ending and stops us from believing in ourselves.
Have you ever been in a situation at work where you felt you were doing three people's jobs but are not recognised or even compensated for it? You want to ask for that promotion or pay rise, but the fear of rejection consumes you preventing you from going for that promotion even though a part of you knows you deserve it. This is your "underminer" taking control.
How about at home? You do everything from cleaning to cooking, bringing up your children, and working, but your efforts are not recognised or appreciated. However, you keep pushing through as that is what your "taskmaster" critic is telling you to do even though you are mentally, emotionally and physically drowning.
Are you in a relationship where you are expected to do everything because you are a woman? You also do not fight this as you feel that it's your responsibility. This is your "moulder" critic kicking in.
Our inner critic, associated with negative thoughts and doubts, is implanted through our childhood experiences. Situations have moulded us to be a certain way, think a certain way and act a certain way.
Types of Inner Critics
We have more than one type of inner critic that lead our life; at times, one or two are more prominent than the other, depending on the situation and circumstances.
Types of inner critic include:
1. Molder - Try to fit a certain standard set by the family. In my culture, this one is probably one of the most prominent critics. Unable to be who we are due to strong cultural and religious beliefs. Especially if you are a female, the standard for males in my culture is the opposite.
2. Taskmaster - Pushes you to keep going, and if fear stops you, you think that other people will see you as a failure or that you are lazy. How often have you experienced this? Feel that you have to keep going regardless of your feelings; keep pushing through all the pain. This then results in depression and reliance on overindulgences such as drinking or eating,
3. Guiltripper - Criticises you for past mistakes and association with standards set by family and community
4. Underminer - Judges you and your self-confidence and stops you from reaching for that goal and taking risks
5. Perfectionist - Sets such high standards that you struggle to complete set tasks. I think most of us are perfectionists. Wanting whatever we do to be perfect, and if there is the slightest mistake, we want to start over; this results in procrastination, overwhelm and anxiety. However, we need to realise that no one is perfect, and nothing will be 100% perfect. So having that in mind, what can be done to be the best that you can be?
6. Destroyer - This affects our self-worth. This critic stops us from truly believing in ourselves, loving us for who we are, warts and all. This critic tells us that we do not deserve respect and understanding. When the destroyer appears in your thinking, what can you expose yourself to believe that you are worth it? What behaviours do you need to shift? What habits do you need to change?
7. Inner Controller - Tries to control your impulses around eating, spending, drinking sex etc. This is polarised by your self-indulgence, a part of you that is an addict that can get out of control. However, it is motivated to try and make you a good person who is accepted and functions well in society.
Find your inner guide.
All of these critics are ultimately there to protect us from getting hurt, I know that sounds ridiculous, but our defence mechanism kicks in. So we do need these inner critics; however, it's learning how to navigate these critics so it doesn't consume us and control how we live our lives. It ok to acknowledge these critics; however, we need to be conscious not to give an active voice to them.
We not only have our inner critic, but we also have our inner guide and our inner coach. The voices that motivate us to keep going, our biggest cheerleaders. These voices are there within us; we need to give them the stage to perform.
Find a process that will work for you to bring out your inner coach, for example, if ideas such as I am not good enough and I am not strong enough appear in your mind. Shift your thought process and tell yourself, " I AM good enough", "I AM strong enough", "I AM worth it!".
Have a moment on your own, write down everything you have achieved so far and the hurdles you have overcome, and recognise these achievements. We all have a choice; we have the choice to feel how we want to feel. If you let your inner critic take over your life, you won't be able to be the best version of yourself, and you deserve to be the best that you can be.
"If you continue to think the way you've always thought, you will continue to get what you have always got", Kevin Trudeau