How to Fight Back Against Your Inner CriticNone By Homaira Kabir
One night at the Tampa Improv many years ago, we all laughed as the female stand-up picked on the differences in mental patterns between men and women.
"You ask a man what he’s thinking, lying there on the couch all silent, and he says, 'nothing'. You don’t believe it, right? But he means it! There is absolutely zero activity in his brain. All the lights are out!"
It may have seemed comical at the time. But in our current world of being assaulted with information and with our growing understanding of mindfulness, many of us have begun to yearn for the state of “nothingness”.
What we most wish to get rid of is the caustic internal heckler that never takes a break. It's the voice that never tires of pointing out our faults and failings, and drags us into a downward spiral of guilt and shame.
Unfortunately, we haven't quite gotten the hang of how to deal with this voice. Most often, we fall into its trap. When we feel exceptionally brave, we argue with it in an effort to reinstate our (sometimes shallow) belief in ourselves. But there is something essentially wrong in this effort—we’re arguing with a voice that is inherently irrational, since it vies for nothing short of perfection. In this losing battle, it will always come out the winner.
There’s a better way. Instead of trying to convince the voice (and thus ourselves) that we’re better than it would like to make us believe, we can simply walk away, providing ourselves with the mental space to reflect on improvement and to do what needs to be done.
And guess what—it’s not as hard as you think!
Breathe for Relief
Breathing is a powerful technique to break the neural loop of the inner critic. When you focus on your breath, your attention is drawn away from its mental chatter and towards the rhythm of the rise and fall of your body’s breathing pattern. Supplement it by saying something kind to yourself such as “I am safe” on each inhale and feel the warmth of compassion flow through you on each exhale.
Give it a Name
The inner critic is one sneaky fellow. It creeps into our minds and speaks in our voice, thus fooling us into believing its words. We can catch ourselves well before falling prey by giving it a name. This simple technique reminds us that we are not the voice. Some people like to give it a funny name so that they can also remember to not take it seriously. One client of mine called hers Olaf. Another called hers Rumpelstiltskin!
Open up to Nature
Step out onto the balcony and look toward the sky. The beauty and wonder of