Once we come to know the voice of our Inner Critic, we begin to cultivate awareness of when they are speaking, when to recognise their voice and when we can then acknowledge these negative thoughts and replace them with positives.
I first began to explore my inner critic and its many forms during my art therapy training. This very strong persona presented itself in a great variety of ways – as a mask, featured above as a doll (that after guided exploration, had many symbols representing criticised aspects from my early childhood) and as spectacles, always watching me and judging my every move.
In one way this exploration is the beginning of training the brain. The Dalai Lama in ‘The Art of Happiness’ teaches us that the brain can be easily retrained, no matter what your age. That a ‘happy’ mindset is achievable if we train our brain by reminding ourselves to think positively! Even when our thoughts argue back…
In another way, the process of becoming aware of our Inner Critic and its negative thoughts, is the cultivating of a relationship with it… yes! Befriend your enemy! The Inner Critic is the core, wounded part of you, who’s thoughts and actions have developed over time to protect you against any further hurts. The Inner Critic is part of the Ego or Survival Mind… designed to defend you (once upon a time, from sabre toothed tigers – now from our own sense of failure).
The key to this cultivation of relationship and retraining the brain is: First, when you hear your Inner critic’s voice reminding you of a negative belief, acknowledge this contribution – “thankyou, I hear you”. The Inner Critic is your inner wounded child. Simple acknowledgment with no ‘put downs’ is first. Second, let your Inner Critic know that today you will be choosing to listen to a more helpful part of You. This part may vary from your Inner Mother, your Inner Artist, your Inner Business Woman (& the list goes on)… a part of you who always has gentle words of encouragement and benevolence towards any mistakes you may have made (and yes, there is that part within you… within all of us!).
“Thankyou Inner Critic, I hear you. But today I choose to listen to (eg.) Inner Mother who has reminded me that (eg.) I am doing a great job…”
This practice helps us develop a positive relationship with our most fearful part of Self. It also helps us to develop an even greater awareness of the other parts of our Self… there are many and they all get stage time!! Its helpful to know how they all behave and get along with each other and how they like to ‘run the show’… aka our behaviour!!
Here are some further ideas for working with your Inner Critic, over on: