It's that voice inside our heads that tells us things like, "you're an idiot" or "you can't do anything right." That's the inner critic and unfortunately, we all have one. We may not like to admit it, but when our inner critic rears its ugly head, it can be anything from slightly annoying such as, "what's wrong with you" to pretty harsh as in, "you're a bad person."
The Inner Critic as "Protector"
We're all familiar with the language of "getting rid of" or "taming" our inner critic. But getting rid of this "protector" of sorts is the wrong approach, believe it or not. Anything we try to exterminate will just gain more traction and increase in intensity; what we resist persists.
The only way to work with a "protector" is to understand its motivation. This "protector part"* is developed in childhood at a time when we didn't have the skills to deal with distressful and/or traumatic situations or events. In general, its goal is to protect you from emotional pain, including shame and vulnerability.
But not nurturing our vulnerability robs us of experiencing the joy and wonderment in life. And vulnerability does not equal weakness or lack of resilience. As adults, we have the wherewithal to change this.
In addition, if the adults in our life were critical of us or of themselves and that is what was modeled for us, we easily soak that in and adopt the same scripts, so to speak. And let's not forget what's called the "negativity bias" which means that negative events have a bigger impact on us and we spend much more time rehashing them as compared to positive ones.
Practice Compassion & Loving- Kindness
While there are many ways to work with your inner critic, a loving-kindness practice can be a simple, yet powerful way to support you in moving closer to self-love and acceptance. This makes life a little easier.❤️
Once you show yourself compassion, it feels effortless to extend the same energy to others.
This doesn't at all mean you'll no longer feel reactive at times and judge others or feel resentment. It does mean that you'll have more awareness if you practice consistently, resulting in an ability to shift your focus away from judgement and blame to a deeper self-understanding and empathy. The root cause of our judgement of others is our own self-criticism.
Don't underestimate the power of a regular practice where you spend just a few minutes daily to recite the loving-kindness meditation. The effects are not immediate, but be patient because before long you will start to notice the shifts. And they are significant shifts that will help you to cultivate patience and compassion for yourself, as long as you continue to practice. If you invest your time and energy, you will see the results.
Spend just a few minutes each day on the following loving-kindness meditation and you'll soon start to see changes in your perceptions of yourself and others. Enjoy!
Start with finding a comfortable position in a safe place, take a few deep breaths and read the meditation silently to yourself or out loud.
When reading the meditation, first think of yourself, then loved ones, the difficult ones and then all beings. (It may be helpful to consider your own inner critic "a difficult one.")
May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I live with ease. May I be at peace.
May my loved ones be happy. May my loved ones be healthy. May my loved ones be safe. May my loved ones live with ease. May my loved ones be at peace.
May my difficult ones be happy. May my difficult ones be healthy. May my difficult ones be safe. May my difficult ones live with ease. May my difficult ones be at peace.
May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be safe. May be beings live with ease. May all beings be at peace.
*"Protector parts" is terminology used in Internal Family Systems, a treatment approach developed by Richard Schwartz, PhD.
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