The inner critic: your friend or foe?

The inner critic: your friend or foe?

The inner critic is a part of the personality, an inner monologue that constantly judges, devalues, demands more from us and, in fact, greatly spoils life, takes away motivation and energy to move, to manifest and sometimes to live at all. It is a very powerful force within us, aimed at destruction.

Answer yourself the question now: can you live without it? I’m sure many have answered “no”. Because there is a fear, that there is an illusion, that without the critical part, we will stop doing anything at all. We are used to nurturing, through criticism. We do not know how to motivate ourselves otherwise.

Also, inner criticism is a very crooked way of showing love. Including self-love. In many families, criticism is the only way to show attention and care. And then a person automatically gets such a strange friend in the piggy bank of his inner life.

The inner critic is a learned way for us to interact with ourselves.

And so, with enough effort and attention, it is possible to change this way. But how?

If you ask your inner critic:

-Why are you criticizing me? What do you want?

Often the answer arises:

– I want you to be happy!

This dialogue can be continued:

– Do you see that I am happy? Is there any other way to go about my/our happiness?

You can negotiate with him. And direct the energy in a constructive direction.

Of course, there are situations in life when self-criticism is useful. If there is no ability to see your mistakes and accept them, there is no ability to develop.

Evaluating oneself from the position of “I am always good” is a manifestation of inattention to oneself and fear of making a mistake, an intolerance of criticism. External criticism hurts only in those moments when it coincides with our opinion about ourselves, which we are afraid to show to others.

Note that there are two kinds of criticism:

  • Destructive criticism is just comments. Its purpose is often to express feelings that are difficult to express directly. Feelings can be both pleasant and not, and do not relate to the object of criticism at all;
  • Constructive criticism is aimed at improvement. When you see a flaw and a way to improve the result. What matters is not the fact that it can be better – it’s perfectionism and devaluation. It is the way to improve.

To direct the energy of the inner critic toward creation, you must train yourself to create only constructive self-criticism.One way: before a critical remark, mark 2 positive points, accurately indicate or look for a way to correct the error.

After that, you can nurture that part of yourself that is always on your side. It is possible to support yourself in this way, and to develop yourself at the same time. It is possible to have a dialogue with your inner critic, to thank him for his care, and to develop your new way of showing psychological care for yourself.

In my work as a psychologist, I often hear objections to this:

– Is it really possible? Can I do it?

And I answer:

– You can!

The inner critic is not an external object or subject. It is something that lives inside us, which means that it is something that we can control in one way or another.

For example, we cannot change a capricious and demanding mother-in-law, a boorish boss, or an accusing and manipulative mother (although many people try). But we can change our inner “scold”. Simply because he is a part of us, and therefore within our sphere of influence.

And this, I think, is the main optimism of practical psychology and psychotherapy: A person is capable of change. Not always easily, not always quickly, sometimes independently, sometimes with the help of a specialist – in various ways, but he is capable.


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