Why Bother Muting The Inner Critic?
As a child, my parents taught my siblings and me to use polite words. They expected us to say please, thank you, and yes, not yeah. We were forbidden to tell anyone to shut-up and if we did utter such a statement, a stern reprimand followed from either Mom or Dad. Yet, saying shut-up is the only way I’ve found to mute my inner critic.
Who or What
The Inner critic lives inside my head. Its unkind, authoritative voice tells me that I will never succeed, and that I’m too dumb to even try. Over the years, I’ve learned to recognize its pattern. It’s tone is negative, never positive. Its purpose is to harm, not to help. It hampers and never encourages. It speaks with authority, yet it doesn’t tell the truth. It is quick to critique, but never constructively and the only time it engages with me is when I am working hard to succeed at something that does not come easy for me.
I’ve also noticed that this inner critic does not listen to reason, does not respond to kindness, and is not interested in a dialogue until we reach consensus. The only thing I can do is to mute its crippling and harmful effects. I do this by telling it to shut-up.
Since its only purpose is to sabotage my goal, it is important that I don’t dilly dally around listening to its repetitive, familiar and undermining message. The sooner I tell it to shut-up, the better. My parents would not be proud of my language, but this is the only kind of language this nitpicking critic responds to.
Everyone has an inner critic. It is that demeaning voice from the past that echoes a faultfinding message. It may be the utterances from a critical kindergarten teacher, the language from a grouchy grandma, or the tone of a carping step-mother. Discovering who the voice belongs to may not be as important as recognizing what we do in response to it. Do we listen and believe that echo from the past or do we mute it?
Not all inner critics will use the same language, but I believe the goal may be the same; to damage, to harm, to impair or hamper. If we leave it up to the inner critic to tell us what to do, we may get stranded on a dead end road with no outlet.
My inner critic visited me recently. It knows that I’ve been working on a difficult piece for a particular publication and that it is taking me longer than I first thought it would.
“You will never finish this project,” it said.
“I know I will finish it. It’s just taking me more time than I thought.”
“You don’t really know what you are doing,” it tried again, tempting me to abandon my project.
“I may not know what I’m doing, but I know I can ask for help, now shut-up.”
So far, I’ve not heard back from it.
Why brother muting the inner critic. It is worth it to notice when the fault finding judge is speaking so that you can render it powerless.