Inner critic is my old friend. It’s neither a good friend, nor it’s a friend who is good for me. It’s just happened to be an old friend. I hear it usually as a voice of my grandma. This voice has quite a limited but strong vocabulary, so strong that for many years I convinced myself that I wouldn’t have lifted a finger without its constant nagging. Without its harsh words I wouldn’t have got as far as I did. The conclusion was that I needed it as much as it needed me.
It’s true, this critic kept me going. But to an extent, I was moving forward in a survival mode. Desperate to get there (wherever that there happened to be: PhD, job, etc.), I was missing on here and now. I worked hard, but it was as if I was a mule prodded to move forward without a clear destination or sense of direction.
And then there were external manifestations of the inner critic. Dysfunctional relationships where I was told I was no good so many times that I believed those people. Friends undermined my confidence in my skills, looks and even ability to give birth naturally. Family members told me repeatedly that I lacked talent (including in writing) and I should stay small.
It’s only now I recognise what they all had in common: the vocabulary of my inner critic. It’s sad how harsh that voice can be: You are not slim enough; you are not smart enough; you are not successful enough; and underneath of all this was the most important one – You are not enough. I thought this relentless voice was what we call perfectionism. Nowadays I can recognise it for what it is, although I still can’t always disengage from it.
What we carry inside is often mirrored in our external environment. If anyone could hear what we tell ourselves on a bad day, would we choose the same thoughts? When we are loving and gentle towards ourselves we generate a very different vibe to when we are busy beating ourselves up. Have you noticed that if someone says they are fat, stupid, or useless, after a while you come to see that perhaps they are right. It’s only by consciously being compassionate, I can generate a different response.
On reflection, I had enough of my inner critic’s ongoing disservice to me. Its pernicious whisper encourages me to stay small, scared and in the safety of what I know. Self-love on the contrary expands, allows growth and natural flow. But it’s a muscle that needs a constant exercise, particularly when the voice of the inner critic is so deeply entrenched. All it requires though is making a decision to honour love over self-abuse. So my self-love’s first assignment for today… is to love up the inner critic. Love it tenderly and gently until it relaxes its grip, because only love can heal our painful patterns.