Making Friends with my Inner Critic


This morning, my life was full of argument with my Inner Critic.  We all have one (at least one), that inner voice whose job it is to deflate our enthusiasm, remind us of our failures, call out each mistake we’ve ever made and track the tally of our short-comings.  My Inner Critic’s name is Cathy.  I’ve known her for a long time and we’ve had many heated arguments, just like the one we had this morning.

Her criticism this morning was about my business ventures.  It included the usual litany of reasons why I cannot accomplish what I’m intending to do.  She reminded me how old I am, how insufficiently tech-savvy I am for today’s business environment, how difficult it is to get the time and attention of those who might help my business grow.  She chided me for even thinking I could succeed.  She’s like that.

I get why she’s with me – we’re wired to have an inner voice that pulls us back from the brink of danger, who sees all that might go wrong and prevents us from taking that leap of faith.  She’s got a job to do, and over the decades, she’s done it well but this morning was different.  We came to a new understanding of each other today.

I do imagery.  What I mean by that is that I’m a certified Interactive Guided Imagery practitioner and have been for decades now.  So, when I say “I do imagery” it simply means I use imagery with clients AND I use imagery myself. As a result, many of my “images” – characters in my own story – are very familiar to me.  Cathy is one of those characters; she’s been an active voice with a name and a face for a very long time thanks to my vivid and therapeutic imagination. 

Today however, after a couple hours of being irritated at each other, Cathy followed me to yoga class.  During the ending meditation, she showed up and peeked out from the shadows of my brain. There she stood, a five-year-old with pig-tail braids, wearing a fall-plaid jumper and saggy socks.  She was crying. So, I did what any compassionate adult would do, I folded her into my arms and she sat there, cuddled in my crossed-leg pose and melted into my imagination.

As it turns out, Cathy, my Inner Critic is also terrified of life. She’s risk-averse, afraid of heights and would never be the first to raise her hand in class.  She does keep me from danger’s door but she can also get in the way when I need to move forward and say YES to what’s next in my life.  This morning, she gave in.  She let me cradle her with all her fears while we made our way through a Loving Kindness Meditation guided by the yoga teacher.  She is after all, a five-year-old.  I have nothing to fear from her. She only wants what’s best for me, but her judgment is flawed; she’s a kid and to her everything looks scary!

What’s your Inner Critic like?  Have the two of you met? Do you know why that voice in your head is always telling you, “NO, you can’t do that!” – perhaps it isn’t just to bring you down, deflate your enthusiasm and make you feel unable, unworthy, insufficient. You are enough, you know – and sometimes you need to remind your Inner Critic of that.  Today I did.  Will you?

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