Self – judgement or self criticism is a part of the ego and is created at the time the ego becomes aware of a self. Until the child sees himself or herself as part of the mother, there is no ego, and there is a feeling of deep vulnerability. Separation from the mother creates a sense of independent self. At that time the ego is formed. Once the ego is formed, there is a self perception. If the mother seeks to fix and perfect the child, the ego will learn that survival requires perfection. When there is praise, there is less of a threat to the child. If there is criticism, there is a greater threat to survival.
Once formed the critic is there for life…either hindering or facilitating the ego.
Fear of job loss, not meeting expectations, not getting the job you want or meeting people who seem to be doing better, can act as triggers for the voice of the inner critic.
Fear fuels self criticism, because fear is a signal that survival may not be possible- and self criticism generally increases at times of struggle. Lack of self worth—is probably the single biggest reason why people are not happy. “Good”, “Bad” are ways that low self worth is programmed and the critic tells you that nothing can be worse than being the person that childhood figures–Mom and Dad told you not to be.
Low self worth leads to higher self criticism, higher self criticism leads to greater need to prove oneself and when trapped in that cycle, happiness isn’t there. Life is lived from a feeling of chronic anxiety, struggle and worry, instead of gratitude, peace and joy.
The irony is that the inner critic can’t solve anything, it can only criticize.
Here’s how to instantly change your energy:
Since the inner critic feeds on fear, the inner critic will often make you afraid of reality i.e., difficult stuff that happens to all of us in life.
Look at the fear. Make a worry journal. List down all your worries every day.
- Follow every fearful thought with a grateful thought. Yes, I am getting older, but I am grateful for the wisdom.
- Do something that trains your brain to relax and let go of its thoughts. Try meditation, yoga, bubble baths, colouring, walking out doors.
- Seek wiser counsel. If you are in a crisis such as unemployment or health or both, should you be seriously worried? If so, take action.
- Are you procrastinating rather than dealing with the fear? Procrastination doesn’t help us face the fear. But it does help us live another day. When there is continuous, chronic stress over a period of time, the psyche needs escape. The rule with procrastination/escape is to choose the least damaging temptation. Something that Oscar Wilde could have added to his famous adage to yield to temptation. Yield to temptation when necessary but choose the least harmful addiction.
- Resist the urge to take it out on family, coworkers or employees. Even though once in a while loved ones don’t mind taking your garbage, the garbage rots and stinks up relationships. In the long run we avoid people who yell even if they recognize that it is coming from anxiety and stress.
- Taking responsibility. When your inner critic changes into a blaming whiny voice, you know you are way too tired….and overwhelmed. Take it easy. Rest. You will get a fresh perspective soon.
- Take the Buddhist perspective. Buddha taught, in life there is suffering. Life is what it is. Use the mantra, “Let go’’ and take a deep breath. What I personally appreciate about Buddha is that he said that suffering is a part of reality — one feels a lot less weird when feeling miserable. If you are on facebook, feeling left out watching everyone’s perfect live on your newsfeed, take heart, humans live in a make belief world—another one of Buddha’s teachings.
- Become acquainted with your inner space. Most of us live with an outward focus. We see ourselves the way others see us. Immortal Technique, the rapper say, “Even though we survived through the struggle that made us; We still look at ourselves through the eyes of the people who hate us.” When you become aware of a negative thought, Ask yourself, ”who is saying that?”. This has an instant calming effect, because you detach from the thought. Withdrawing attention from the inner critic and observing your self directly is the most powerful way to develop your awareness.
- Be patient. The critic didn’t become powerful overnight. In fact it must have taken a long time to get here, so, befriending the inner critic will take time.
- Thoughts are like seeds. Plant positive and calming thoughts and feelings and in time these seeds grow on their own. A term that’s become popular about the self learning quality of the mind is neuro-plasticity. If we make enough effort to workout areas of the brain, it starts to workout those areas by itself–for example if we make enough effort to be calm–then the brain learns to do that on its own. The trick is to be patient.
The inner critic is there to us from harm…..so one of the best ways to find instant calm, is to repeat “I am safe”, this will help train ourselves not to believe every thought that the mind generates.