I talk a lot with my clients about the voice of their inner critic. What I’ve found interesting is how often my clients seem very surprised to learn that they have an inner critic.
The inner critic is that voice in your head that likes to remind you how not enough you are – not good enough, smart enough, resourceful enough, whatever enough. It’s that voice that at times feels likes it’s assaulting you.
Why it surprises my clients – and why it might surprise you to learn you have one – is because they believe the voice they have heard in their head for so long is actually just them speaking to themselves.
But with a little reflection, they see that the words of their inner critic are not actually coming being generated by them. It is more like they are hearing the words rather than creating the words from within. It’s not them, it’s their inner critic.
My own personal experience and those of my clients have taught me that while your inner critic can show up in a number of ways, her tactics usually fall into one of three categories.
(**your inner critic can be male or female but for simplicity I will use the feminine pronoun in this post**)
“You’re ugly, you’re fat, no one can stand looking at you, why even bother you know you’re only going to fail.”
This is the voice of your inner critic as the bully and it’s the most common way your inner critic shows up. She throws words at you designed specifically to hurt you and keep you down.
She never has a kind word to say to you and if she does say something nice it’s often laced with sarcasm or a caveat, kind of like “you look nice in those jeans…for a fat girl”
This version of your inner critic is unable to extend any kindness towards you and when she shows up you feel absolutely assaulted by her words. She uses her words to back you into a corner and you feel utterly trapped and unable to get out from underneath those horrible words.
The bitchy version of your inner critic sounds like a broken record and her most common refrain is how not enough you are. She’s the one who likes to compare you to everyone else and by her standards, you never measure up.
She’s also the one most likely to pull a one-two punch on you. For example, you’ll walk into a room and she’ll start telling you how put together everyone else in the room looks compared to you. Then she’ll follow it up very quickly with words like “what’s wrong with you? Other people are confident and relaxed.”
She criticizes you and then berates you for listening to her criticism.
The bossy version of your inner critic shows up in one of three ways. As the voice of reason, the voice telling you that “you aren’t ready yet” or the voice that likes to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.
As the voice of reason, she argues for what seems to be in your best interest, what is realistic and effective. The problem is her arguments tend not to be based on any specific evidence but rather on the very unhelpful “that’s just the way it is”.
As the “you’re not ready” voice, she tries to convince you that you need more training or more experience or more time before you step out and do anything. Your bossy inner critic is doing the same thing to you. She is keeping a lid on your potential for her own satisfaction.
As the “should voice”, your inner critic likes to let you know what is and is not acceptable for you to do. She is controlling your behavior (and ultimately how you show up) by telling you what you “should” or shouldn’t be doing and usually it’s the opposite of what you are currently doing.
The voice of your inner critic is never going to go away but you can learn how to master her. I’ve created a new FREE resource to support you in taking steps to regain control of your life from the power of her voice. Download Master Your Inner Critic here.
I would also love to hear from you, which way does your inner critic like to show up? Tell me in the comments below or head over to Facebook and share with me there.
From my heart to yours,
If you sense that your inner critic is having a field day in your head and you’d like to learn more about how you can deal with her, let’s chat. Schedule a complimentary call with me today where we can discuss what it would look like for you to silence your inner critic.