How I befriended my inner critic

Let’s start with a short description of myself: I am loud, talk incessantly, I am hyperactive, impulsive, spacey, impatient, bossy and if complaining were an Olympic discipline, I’d be winning. These are all character traits most people (including myself) are not very proud of. In the past few months, I started to notice how these traits are getting more and more in my way. I have tried to find ways how to deal with them, without judging myself for it. Today I will share with you how I have decided to deal with this problem.

My inner critic and my wise self

Ever since I am young I have had a low self esteem. As a teenager I used to hurt myself by cutting into my arms with a razor blade. This was my punishment for being the person that I was and for doing what I did. When I decided to quit the auto-mutilation when I was sixteen, I knew this would only be possible on a long term by accepting myself.

Throughout the years, I have learned ways how to accept myself. I can’t compare myself to the auto-mutilating girl from back then, but this critical voice in my head is still present. The difference is that I know the voice pretty well by now. In many situations I can recognize it now, before it does any damage.

Learning how to deal with this voice and recognizing that other people are also driven by this voice, can positively influence the outcome of some situations. The better you learn how to distance yourself from the voice of your inner critic, the easier it will get to hear the voice of your wise self. In the upcoming paragraphs, I will explain how I managed to do so.

My inner critic about my body

Unfortunately, I am also struggling with this modern problem: the feeling of being fat. Early in my teenage years, I slowly started to gain more and more weight. This was definitely not the best timing. I was already very insecure, but the fact that I started to have an undesirable body shape, exactly at the moment that I started to become aware of my body, was difficult to deal with. I have never been particularly happy with my body, but the past few years I learnt to accept it.

Up until January 2017 I had gained weight and for some reason it bothered me a lot. I wasn’t even aware I was still so insecure about my body and I was clueless about what to do. For years I had told myself (as a good spiritual person does) that I am not my body and that my worth does not depend on it. And then suddenly it turns out I am superficial enough to have sleepless nights over some extra kilo’s.

My wise self about my body

After I spent a couple of weeks listening to my inner critic and feeling miserable, I decided to engage my wise self. I could barely hear the messages from the wise self, because the inner critic’s voice was so loud and omnipresent. Fortunately, I could grasp some of the valuable lessons. I was very surprised by the first lesson. It turns out my inner critic is not even wrong! He does have a valid point, but he simply has a clumsy way of getting the message across.

I learned that indeed my body weight and shape is not the essential problem. The actual problem lies deeper. My inner critic’s real concern is my self care. He wants me to nurture myself and care for myself. Just like a parent who punishes his child for their own good.

After I realized that my inner critic is actually trying to help me, I started to become more cooperative. I take better care of myself, but not out of fear of gaining weight, but out of self love. Ever since, the voice of the inner critic has calmed down which enables me to pay more attention to my wise self. He lets me know that I am good, just the way I am. That I don’t have to worry about what others think of me, but reminds me that it is essential to take care of myself.

My inner critic about my personality

Unfortunately, the criticism is not limited to my body. My inner critic also strongly dislikes my personality, as you could read in the introduction to this post. After thirty years of being the person I am, it seems nearly impossible to change my character traits. This makes the criticisms particularly frustrating. Fortunately, I found a more peaceful way to deal with this dilemma.

Once again, it turns out my inner critic only wants to save me from myself. He wants people to like me, so I can build a supportive network. Furthermore, being a “nice” person will enhance my feelings of self worth and happiness.

Let’s be honest, even if you feel entitled to be angry at someone or criticize a person, it rarely feels good. Afterwards you often feel worse than you did before. As the Buddha stated: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else, yet you are the one getting burned.”

Expressing anger and criticism is not a problem, but it should be done respectfully and lovingly and most importantly: it should be released. This is exactly what my inner critic wants to teach me – in a clumsy way.

My wise self about my personality

My wise self is a good example of how this communication should go. He lets me know that indeed I have some traits that are not particularly beneficial to anyone. At the same time, he explains to me that this a side-effect of being human. He also emphasizes that my I can deal with my negative traits in a positive way, which can lead to interesting insights. But therefore I need to be able to embrace myself with an open and loving heart.

That sounds really nice, but how on earth do you do that? Embracing yourself? 

Well, I was recently in a situation where my inner critic was on fire and I had to choose between self hate and self love.

I had a huge fight with my flat mate. For the past months there was tension between us about domestic chores. The irritation accumulated until eventually the situation escalated.

I was so angry, I couldn’t control myself anymore. By screaming and yelling at her, I believed the message might come across. Of course, it didn’t. The only result I got was that I felt horrible about my own behavior. In the end, I wasn’t even angry at her anymore, but at myself!

Completely unexpected the auto-mutilating girl appeared from my dark past. Like in those days, I felt like a horrible person, completely unworthy of living. It almost felt like I was locked in the body and mind of my 15-year old self. All I could feel was intense self hatred, a contracted stomach and a heart of stone.

Fortunately, I am not that kid anymore and I slowly started to come back to my adult mind and body. After I had recovered a bit from this tantrum, I had the strength to listen to my wise self. He came through with a very clear message: Forgiveness was the key. Not only did I have to ask my flat mate for forgiveness, more importantly, I needed to forgive myself.

Eventually the night ended with lots of love and empathy for each others situation. My tantrum and the subsequent forgiveness had led to the start of an open conversation. Not wanting to repeat this scenario, I understood the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness in every single instance.

Furthermore, the tantrum has led me to do more effort to understand myself. Obviously, I still feel like a worthless and bad person deep inside. I still feel people don’t listen to me and don’t think I am important or worthy enough.

Now I am actively working on my self-esteem. I do listen and value the feedback from my inner critic, but I don’t pay any attention to his negative tone anymore. I take little steps to bettering myself, but I don’t beat up on myself, my inner critic or anyone anymore whenever I fall back into the old patterns.

Being more loving towards yourself will automatically make it easier to be more loving towards others. This will inevitably lead to better social contacts and a higher self-esteem. You will notice the voice of your inner critic slowing down which gives room to the voice of your higher self.

My inner critic about this blog

Yes, my inner critic is also criticizing me on this blog. I have never been a great writer (not to say a really bad one), but I am very eager to share my stories and insights. For months I had been playing with this idea, but always dismissed it because of my inner critic. He said things like:”You are a horrible writer!” and “No one is interested in your stories! Why do you actually think you are?!”. But now I have listened long enough and it’s time to give more attention to my wise self.

My wise self about this blog

The sweet voice of my wise self told me it really doesn’t matter whether I succeed or fail; the most important is to follow my heart. I don’t have anything to loose. And even if I can only motivate and inspire one single person via my blog, it has been worth all the effort 🙂

But of course, I am also very interested in being motivated and inspired myself and this blog is an awesome tool for that. So, if you have experiences or ideas you would like to share, I would love to hear them! Feel free to leave a comment below and share your insights with us 🙂

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