Loving ourselves isn’t easy. In fact, some scientists claim that 85 percent of our waking consciousness is based on self-criticism. Just think about yourself. When you wake up in the morning, how long it takes until you say something or think something negative about yourself? It might be the first look in the mirror, a reminder of what you have to do today or some thought about yesterday’s mistakes. We can try to talk to a friend or work on these feelings individually, but this terrible voice of our critics stays somewhere deep in us, waiting to jump out and attack again. How to turn this monster into an ally, a support rather than enemy?
Who is bothering you?
The first step to deal with our inner offender is to realize what is he actually saying. We need to sort out what is true and presented in a style we can handle and what is either not true or expressed in such a hurtful style that we must learn how to defend ourselves. We can meet the critic and interact with it, but a basic contact and simple interaction will not defeat him that easily. Our reactions can even sometimes intensify that toxic relationship. Being aware of what your critic is saying to you, decide what type of inner critic is that. It can be a regular, old critic that you know well, an abusive, dangerous critic or a constructive and positive one that is actually doing you a favor.
The classical old critic
Almost all of us have a critic that regularly evaluates how are we not good enough, smart enough or beautiful enough. These critics are usually partially unconscious. Often when we feel the hurt critic, we can also sense a lack of awareness in this part of ourselves. This critic isn’t necessarily associated with previous abuse, not it is necessarily abusing us. It tends to be one of those internal constant voices, always looking over our shoulder. It can range from mild to quite harsh.
Most of us pick up our critical style both form our families and from our culture.
This interplay of familial and cultural criticism reverberates in every aspect of our lives as critics both personal and professional, both internal and external, echo criticism from all corners. Our schools, careers and even doctors keep repeating that we can do better. One of the good techniques to deal with that inner critic that was originated from these voices is to have a dialogue with him- it helps to discover the content of criticism and become more conscious of it. It usually responds well to negotiation. Taking the other side- stepping into the shoes of this critic- can empower you by providing insight into the roles being played out in the victim-critic relationship. It enables fluidity between those roles.
Another type of critic that insists that it’s presence is “for your own good” is the destructive critic. Many of them originate in abuse situations. When we are abused, especially as children, we absorb that energy. The abuse is no longer external- we use it against ourselves. It can also come out and be unconsciously used to attack others as well.
The primary approach to handle this critic is to name it: it’s an abuser, an internal abuser. Many people just need to fight back and kill this critic, even with a movement. Overtures and attempts will likely result only in redoubled attack. Kill it, label it abuser and fight against letting it to hurt you. It much more difficult to work on this abuser individually, a working with a therapist would be a very advised solution.
Positive or constructive critic
This critic is the easiest one to deal with. It’s intent is to help us and give us feedback. Thanks to this one, we keep improving ourselves without getting completely blocked. However, to receive a positive criticism, we must be able to distinguish it form the destructive one. Through consciousness and attention, we can treat it as an ally or an inner guide.
A diet for your critics
All of our critics demand feeding. Each morning when we wake up, they haunt and absorb us, waiting for our reactions. Our consciousness is filled with these voices that grow if we pay attention to them. Being able to track them, we can channel our energy in new, creative directions. Making a conscious decision to redirect energy in a more positive direction is one of the most and fundamental forms of self-love.
Throughout the day, observe your inner dialogues and feelings. Which inner figures, which inner voices are you serving? Think about that. And decide if it’s worth it!