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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Barrett

The Inner Critic




Everyone has an inner critic, some are just more pervasive and damaging to the psyche than others. It can cause great stress, anxiety and lead to depression


The inner critic is the merciless voice in our own head that continuously evaluates our worth as a human Being based on how we are ‘doing’ life & how it thinks we ‘should’ be doing life. Freud referred to it as the “Uber Ich”…above ‘I’. It is the voice that tries to correct us (or others)…or perfect us, tells us we are wrong, shames us, makes us feel stupid or feel like we could have done better/ guilt trips us, tells us how we have failed self or others.


The inner critics motivation is that it just wants us to feel loved, safe and free and that we are doing life right. It wants us to be perfect, to do life perfectly so that we don’t have our love supply and security taken away from us, as we maybe did as children if we didn’t perform perfectly (this is when and how it was created as a functioning in our brain/ a protection mechanism). That’s why it is always reminding us of times where maybe we got life wrong, where we could have been more for others, done a better job, or where others could have maybe treated us better etc…It never stops rehashing past events in an attempt to create a ‘perfect’ and ‘safe’ future, a perfected version of life so that we can feel safe, free and loved, so that we can be barricaded from any possible humiliation, defeat or rejection in the future.


But as an adult YOU NO LONGER NEED YOUR INNER CRITICS ADVICE, you really don’t. It no longer serves you AT ALL.. Your essential okness, your Self Love, your essential safety is no longer contingent upon the validation of others or upon getting events in life right or being perfect. It is no longer contingent upon not messing up or being loved, approved of or accepted by family members or friends, strangers or even society as a whole….Your love, safety and self worth is WITHIN YOU …ALWAYS RIGHT HERE NOW.


Lacking or Needing approval, love or validation from others for you being you, exactly as you are is an old program running. You can only be you in each and every circumstance and that is ALWAYS more than enough.Sometimes we may offend others by being ourselves, sometimes we maybe could have been or done better, so what! We only have what appears in the moment, yes we can apologise if we’ve overstepped a boundary, or we can talk to someone if we perceive they have overstepped our boundary, but IT IS AS IT IS and could never be other than it is….BECAUSE IT IS. It is only the critic (the AI) that says “No I could have preempted that, no I could definitely have handled that better, that shouldn’t have happened, no I really messed up there, I’ve ruined things, how could I have treated him/her like that etc…oh I really need to take care of business better, I’m an an idiot!” Or “Well done, he deserved that reprimand, he won’t treat me like that again” or “I really am a greedy mess, when will I ever lose weight, I am so lazy” or “Wow I’m better than everyone else, I’m so disciplined and I look so good, how could that person let themselves get so unhealthy.” We are so used to the internal droning dialogue that we think it’s who we are…IT ISN’T!!!! 


This may sound weird but what we really are has no voice at all. It is pure silence, like inside a new born babies head. The baby hasn’t learned language yet so it doesn’t think linguistically. Its internal experience is silence.It hasn’t learned that it is a voice inside its own head!!! Contemplate that one :)??!! The voice in your head is just like a voice recording (usually your own voice) of data that the brain has gathered through the life experiences of your body and its claimed and owned as ‘me’. A personal, linguistic and visual overlay to lifes neutral experience. Your brains unique perspective of this infinitely unknowable life experience. The inner critic is like a false overlay…continually scanning for potential flaws or problems. In its desperation to keep you safe it stifles you, limits you and causes contraction in your physiology.


HOW WE EXPERIENCE THE INNER CRITIC.


1 - In our own head towards ourselves.

2 - In our own head projected on to others towards ourselves I.e what we think others think about us.

3 - Outwards - judging others. The critic feels so bad about itself that if it sees negativity in another then it is somehow better/more than…it is a false sense of inflating the ego.


The voice of the inner critic kills spontaneity; the natural flow. Again, It causes tension, contraction in the body, it makes us feel defensive, not relaxed to be ourselves, it holds us in fight/flight (triggers stress response in the nervous system). Our life force and natural true and authentic expression is stifled; to ensure we play within the inner critics boundaries. We play small (safe) to avoid being attacked, criticised, or humiliated for doing it wrong. We feel less than, it is our own life force energy being used against us. When the inner voice continually calls us out we feel in danger. We feel stuck because we are always trying to avoid negative back lash. It steals our sense of freedom and infinite possibilities.


We don’t need the inner critic in order to be a good person - we don’t need to be cruel to ourselves (There is a belief that maybe it’s true, that maybe I’ll get life wrong if I don’t listen)….it simply isn’t true…as an organism we are evolving naturally through our experiences…we are becoming more…our brain is evolving naturally, simply by experiencing life it updates itself…WE CERTAINLY DON’T NEED THE INNER CRITIC. We needed it as children to receive love & safety within the tribe. As adults we are not dependant on others.


The inner critic can even morph in to a so called ‘loving’ spiritual ego - “Maybe you could have done that a little better darling, do better next time” (towards self or others).


Inner critic tag teams with other psychological patterns eg “achiever pattern’. It persuades us that we’ll be enough when we’ve achieved X,Y & Z.


We can wonder how will I be motivated to ‘improve’ without it?


Start to be motivated by your intuitive drives, by what you love & feel passionate about instead of fear of being ridiculed or punished for being ‘not enough.’ Begin from the premise that you are already infinitely perfect, whole, loved and complete. Everybody is.


The more freedom you have from the inner critic, the freer you become, to just ‘be you’….what a relief to let you be you…freely. No longer having to contort yourself in to moulds to get love & acceptance ‘out there!”


The voice of the inner critic becomes like a radio in the background, a best friend that you are now discovering is not good for you!! Maybe you can’t turn the radio off but you can certainly learn to tune out. We are so used to it that we think they are our thoughts because it is our voice usually. If your friend spoke to you the way the inner critic speaks to you would you enjoy hanging out with them? Would you even put up with it? Would you keep listening to them once you’d realised they were toxic.


Don’t wait for your inner critic to see you or your life or your history as enough, to see your looks, your conduct, others conduct as enough, to see your behaviour as enough. IT NEVER WILL!! Let me say that again IT NEVER WILL!! It is a flaw detector program running, IT CAN ONLY PERCEIVE POTENTIAL FLAWS, IT CAN ONLY PERCEIVE IMPERFECTION. It is an AI program designed only to sweep, detect and eliminate any possible threat to you receiving love and safety (created in childhood based on the value systems of caregivers, peers and society in general (which face it only wants you as a commodity to sell product to; it strips you of confidence through advertising and has you convinced that you NEED to consume more.more…more…to be enough). Advertising is like a giant inner critic. IT convinces you where you (or your life) have or are possibly falling short or have the potential to fall short & sets about bringing your attention to it…REPEATEDLY!!…then it will convince you how to fill that gap, how to make yourself whole, loved and complete.


YOU ARE ALREADY PERFECTLY YOU!! You don’t lack or need anything to be more perfectly YOU!!


Going back & forth with the inner critic feeds it. You need to just cut it off! & break the patterns.


What are some of the ways that your inner critic attacks you?

1.Things you said/did or didn’t say/do or should have?

2.How we (our lives) look compared to others?

3.Our performance…how it could have been better…how it probably wasn’t enough…that you can’t ever be perfect enough for it…and what it thinks other people may think of it…that they probably think you weren’t very good.?

4.What it thinks other people think about us?

5.Things that have happened in the past? How we should or could have done better or how others should have done better. How things could or should have been better?

6. Comparing us to others…others/others lives being better…prettier…more successful…more financially abundant…happier…more loving and compassionate… or just more than we are?


Have a think now…what are some of the ways you find yourself either mentally attacking yourself or others or thinking others are thinking negatively about you (with no ACTUAL solid evidence).


What are your 5 most common attacks?


IF YOU CAN SEE IT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE IT. 



LEARNING TO DEFEND OR INTEGRATE


Don’t collapse…don’t rationalise…don’t fight…See it…DISENGAGE…Relax…open…release…


Strength based response - When you catch the critic tell it to “Fuck off….How dare you judge me or demean me in that way?!!…..Who fucking cares what you think…how you see things….Fuck off…You are not making me feel bad ever again!”


If that doesn’t suit you - 

Change the subject - distraction….When you catch the critic immediately focus attention on the breath…(my ‘counting breaths’ meditation trains you to do this…if you’d like this meditation just email me).


Sarcasm - When you catch the critic “Ok….you got me….Im the ugliest/worst/most irresponsible/unlovable (fill in the blanks) person in the world….so what!!!”


Heart based response

When you catch the critic - 

  1. “It hurts when you speak to me like that. I’ve always done the best I possibly can with what I have. When I’ve known better I’ve always strived to do better.”

  2. “You’re right, I don’t always know what I’m doing, I’m not perfect, there’s no such thing as perfect. There’s only what naturally unfolds in the moment. ‘What is’ can never be any other way”

3.   “I know you seek for me to be perfect so that I can feel safe, secure and loved…but the moment IS perfection already…I am ALREADY safe, perfect, whole, fulfilled and complete. An IDEA of perfection is an elusive, impossible fantasy (IT DOESN’T EXIST). I’ve already not done anything wrong…I’m complete before the illusion that I need to perfect to be complete. Appearance is complete and whole already.”


OTHER RESPONSES - 

When you catch the critic - Breathe deeply & gently exhale X 3…come back in to the body/in to presence…Let go….detach…(like the stop or presence process - email me for more details of these). I LOVE YOU…I COMPLETELY WELCOME YOU…I FORGIVE YOU…


Visualisation - Imagine a golden light of acceptance and forgiveness for all parties involved enveloping all dialogue…all images…all emotions…all sensations….blasting all with a golden light….exhaling any and all tension away…


Just play around with these techniques and apply the one that most resonates and feels most natural to you.


HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR DEFENSE/INTEGRATION HAS WORKED? How do you know that you have successfully disidentified/disengaged?


Energetically you feel bigger…more expansive…more relaxed and centred…less closed, contracted and small.

You’ll feel you have the balance of power back.

You’ll have more space and ease in your body.


You are training a new muscle…maybe for the first time ever you are refusing to buy into self deprecating thought and emotional patterns.


It takes persistence, perseverance and consistency. You are learning a new language; a language of Self Love and Self respect.


You are coming home to the innocence you never left.


….just like the Wicked Witch melting in the Wizard of Oz, the voice will eventually fade into the background and be recycled in to personal power.

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2 Comments


Stefania De Gioannis
Stefania De Gioannis
Feb 05

Thank you, Melanie.

Your blog is what I have always believed, and seeing it written down makes me so happy.

You wrote it so well and easy to understand...I love it when you explain pure silence...like inside a newborn baby's head.

That explains it so well

Thank you for the tips to disengage with the inner critic

Loved it

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Melanie Barrett
Melanie Barrett
Feb 05
Replying to

Thank you for your appreciation Stefania - I'm so glad you enjoyed it - makes it worthwhile sharing 💖

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