Does any of this sound familiar?
That wasn’t good enough. You sounded stupid. You could have done that better. You’re fat. You’re old. You’re stupid. You don’t fit in. Your dreams are impossible. You don’t matter. People don’t really like you. Everyone is better than you. Stop judging yourself
Ug. It was painful to write those things but I am sure that you recognize that voice. It’s the voice of your inner judge and critic.
The voice that keeps you small and makes you feel stuck. The voice that gets in the way of your dreams. The voice that holds you back when you try to take a step forward. The voice that makes you feel insecure and doubt yourself.
It is also the voice that keeps you safe. Or better said, the voice that thinks it keeps you safe. Your inner critic/judge actually started as a safety strategy. At some point a long time ago, you decided that in order to be a “good girl or good boy” you had to know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. So your inner judge came on board to help you discern those things.
You also decided a long time ago that it was a good idea to be hard on yourself because it was a way to motivate yourself. The harder you were on yourself, the more you got external things accomplished. Your inner critic also made you criticize yourself more than anyone else could as a method to protect yourself.
And both the inner critic and judge are your internalized voice of what you heard externally. Every judgmental or critical thing that was said to you, about you, or around you, you soaked up like a sponge and made part of your own self-talk.
I understand that you’d like to kick your inner critic and judge to the curb because they really get in your way. But you can’t…and you’ll get super frustrated trying.
You can’t because these parts are very, very tied to keeping you safe. They think they are protecting and motivating you so if you attempt to just get rid of them, they will hang on stronger.
So what do you do? How do you soften the volume of the inner judge and critic?
You EMBRACE them. That’s right. You totally accept these parts, love them up, and have gratitude for how they support you. Then you work with them to start creating a healthier inner dialogue.
Here are some initial tips that will support you right now when the voice of your inner judge/critic comes up.
- OBSERVE. Just witness it. Notice the voice that is up. Notice it is not you. It is just a part of you, an inner voice.
- GET SAFE. The judge/critic thinks it’s protecting us so create a feeling of safety in your body so it knows it doesn’t have to work so hard. My favorite way is to put one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly, take three deep breaths and say: I am safe.
- ACCEPT. Greet the judge/critic with compassion. Accept that it is there. Don’t fight it or try to change it.
- ASK and THANK YOU. Ask the part that is judging or criticizing what it needs from you and then thank it for coming forward (remember it thinks it is helping you!!!)
- FORGIVE. With compassion, forgive yourself for judging or criticizing yourself in any way. Remind yourself you are doing the best you can!
- UPGRADE. Work with your self-talk to upgrade your inner dialogue. Don’t expect big shifts like going from “You don’t belong” to “Everyone loves you.” Try a smaller step to create a shift like, “I’m doing the best I can. I belong to me.”
If you practice those six steps, I promise you will start to feel a shift!!! Remember your inner judge/critic is tied to keeping you safe so, in order for it to lessen, you must create a feeling of safety inside you. The steps above will help you do so.
As someone who was beaten up by my inner judge and critic for YEARS, I assure you that you can stop being so mean to yourself. It takes your compassion, attention, and love so do not give up!! These parts have been around for a lifetime so be patient with them as you shift.
Author: Christine Hassler