I applied to be a speaker at a women’s retreat.”
That’s the first sentence of a Facebook post I started to write.
Then I heard that familiar whisper…“Don’t share this! Someone’s gonna ask if they accepted you, you’ll have to admit ‘No,’ then you’ll be embarrassed.”
I hadn’t even heard back from the retreat organizers, and already my inner critic was telling me they didn’t want me.
This was the ingrained pattern I learned as a child, when I internalized others’ negative judgments and made them my own.
“Internalized” means integrating others’ thoughts, feelings, beliefs and then not being able to differentiate which are yours or theirs. Not everything we internalize as kids is negative, but when it is, it takes concerted effort to undo what we learned. But remember undoing what we learned is totally doable.
Back to my Facebook post…I stopped typing briefly when I realized I was simply feeling afraid because I was doing something new.
After all the years of healing from narcissistic abuse and working on myself, my inner critic was stepping up and encouraging me to be afraid, negative, and ashamed.
I used to be an obedient servant to my inner critic; I never even knew it was speaking to me, so I willingly went along with it. I used to quickly agree when it told me, for example, that sharing honestly, being authentic, or quitting a job I loathed, was not a good idea.
If you experienced narcissistic abuse growing up, those internalized negative messages became your adult inner critic. A strong inner critic usually shows up in self-esteem issues and unhealthy dependence on others.
This article will help you take those first steps in quieting your inner critic and learning to listen more keenly to your true inner voice.
Your Inner Critic Will Interfere When You’re About to Be Authentic
Have you ever been about to do something that feels exciting about your life and future, and suddenly you hear admonitions in your head like…
· What are you thinking?
· You’re gonna make another bad decision
· Why risk what you’ve got for some unknown?
· Stop dreaming and get back to reality
If this is something you deal with often, you’re not alone.
Everyone has an inner critic, but how much each person pays attention to it differs greatly.
Your inner critic is an ingrained pattern of thinking, a habit actually, that you’ve gotten used to. That’s why it’s hard to notice it speaking up.
A lot of times you won’t realize that you followed through with what your inner critic wanted you to do until after you complied. (Similar to how you start the coffee pot or light the tea kettle in the morning without thinking and with only one eye open.)
How to Stop Obeying the Inner Critic’s Directions
If you want to stop obeying your inner critic’s fear-based directions, the first thing you’ll want to do is become aware it’s happening in the first place.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably tired of realizing your inner critic’s tactics after the fact and having to clean up the mess after you followed it’s instructions.
If you’re just beginning to work on being more aware and mindful of your inner critic, here’s what to do:
1 – Think back from when you started working on yourself and find specific moments when you obeyed your inner critic
2 – Imagine how you would act, feel, or think differently in those moments if you hadn’t been controlled by your inner critic and had been in a more mindful place
3 – In the future, each time you become aware of what your inner critic has said, figure out how long the time took between you listening to your inner critic and your awareness – if you’re genuinely putting in the work to change, you’ll see that the time will eventually shorten between you acting based on your inner critic and the awareness that you did so; in fact, it’ll shorten to the point that you’ll start having awareness in the moment your inner critic is speaking and you’ll begin stopping yourself before you act
Journaling this process will be more enlightening than simply thinking about it in your head. Writing it out on paper will help you see your progress more than letting it swim around in your mind.
When you’re able to be an observer of your inner critic, you’ll see that when you listen to it, you feel afraid, overgive, and struggle with self-worth.
When you don’t listen to your inner critic, you’ll see how you begin taking steps that set you on the healing path of trusting your inner guidance, indulging in self-compassion, and letting go of toxic relationships.
If you’ve been working on ignoring your inner critic for a while already:
After you become aware of your inner critic talking to you:
1 – Call it what it is – fear, inner judge, ego, scarcity mindset, self-doubt – and respond with the truth (out loud or written down is often better than just doing this in your head)
2 – Observe what your inner critic has said, thank it genuinely for trying to protect you, and tell it you can handle things from now on
3 – Embrace your new beliefs/behavior of mindfulness, growth, trust in yourself, etc.
(two ways to do this is by using affirmations and journaling)
4 – Share honestly with people you trust exactly what this struggle was and is for you
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (I love that movie)
When you start working on observing your inner critic, you’ll feel it’s getting louder and more powerful. It’ll seem to be everywhere all the time.
Actually, it’s not your inner critic getting larger, it’s your awareness increasing, which is huge progress!
Over time and practice, your ability to respond in a more mindful way will grow.
Surrender the Battle with Your Inner Critic
I used to be at war with my inner critic constantly. Now it’s infrequent. And doesn’t last as long. And it doesn’t take me that far down. This will happen for you too!
When you put in the effort to change, your awareness will increase and you’ll start responding differently when your inner critic’s trying to take you down the path of fear.
And you’ll stop calling it a war, a struggle, or a battle.
(Take a look at this short but helpful piece on defeating fear) ~ https://waldronleadership.com/defeat-fear-pema-chodron/
Over time and practice, you’ll develop an almost immediate awareness of the lies your head is telling you. Then you’ll gain the confidence and conscious awareness to make the choice to follow your intuition and make yourself a top priority.
Invest the time and energy into quieting your inner critic because it’ll be the foundation of your joyful life.
Choose Mindfulness Over Your Inner Critic
If you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, learning mindfulness is essential.
When you increase your conscious awareness of your inner critic and choose to not mindlessly obey it:
*You quiet your internalized negative beliefs and step into your true power
*You’re better able to hear and trust your intuition
*You create healthier relationships where you’re valued and not feeling depleting due to overgiving
p.s. I didn’t get asked to be a speaker at that particular retreat, but I did get to post my article to their website, which you can check out here ~ https://womenforone.com/surviving-thriving-bullying/