I’m not good enough.
I will never be good enough.
I’m never going to be as successful as them.
I don’t deserve to be happy as them.
Meet your inner critic.
Also known as your ego or mean girl (or boy).
It’s the voice inside your head that’s negative and critical.
It totally believes in — and helps to perpetuate — the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. It tries to keep us small. It’s totally afraid of our best selves and will stop at nothing to try and keep us down.
The inner critic is rooted in fear and comes from a place of lack and feeling unworthy.
As Marianne Williamson says “the ego is quite literally, a fearful though”.
Sounds like it should be the enemy right?
Well maybe… However trying to battle, defeat or obilitarate my inner critic has never really worked for me (and I’ve tried!)
Even though the inner critic tries to keep us small, I don’t believe it’s the enemy, at all. And I actually believe that it’s just doing it’s job, which is to protect us.
I have found that the more I fight my inner critic, the more it fights back and not buying into it becomes more challenging.
Dealing with the inner critic is serious stuff, but I don’t like to take a serious approach with is at all. Instead, I have found that taking a fun approach to dealing with my inner critic is really effective way to not let it hold me back.
I’ve tried many different things to try to live in harmony with my inner critic, but the most effective ways to do this are the ones that seem a little silly.
Eckhart Tolle says “don’t take your thoughts too seriously” — and I like to take this approach with my inner critic as well.
So on that note, if you want to try a different approach to deal with your inner critic, in this post I’m sharing my favourite ways to not take my ego so seriously.
Even though the inner critic tries to keep you small, it’s really just terribly afraid.
It wants to protect you from failure, humiliation, judgement, criticism, etc.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of gratitude, and this is because it can be super useful to help you transform how you’re feeling, and in this case I’ve found that it’s a great way to deal with my inner critic.
So when my ego is going haywire I try being grateful for what it’s telling me.
Inner critic: “Why are you even writing this blog post? It sucks and you suck and everything you do sucks. No one is going to read your stupid writing anyway so why bother?”
Meet it with gratitude: “Thank you, I know putting myself out there in this way can be confronting and scary, so I appreciate that you’re trying to protect me, but it’s okay I’ve got this.”
I find that this approach prevents me from entering a battle with my inner critic (which I mentioned above has never really worked for me) and reminds me that my inner critic is just scared and wants to keep me safe.
This is one of my favourite ways to deal with my inner critic, because it’s effective and involves one of my favourite series: Harry Potter.
I like to deal with my inner critic by thinking of it as a Boggart from Harry Potter.
If you’re not familiar with a boggart, it’s something that takes the shape of whatever we fear the most, and because the inner critic is rooted in fear I find it beneficial to think of it as a boggart.
What combats a boggart is laughter – and I try to use laughter or humor to subdue my ego.
So when my inner critic is raging on with criticism and drowning in fear, I try to find a way to make it funny, to actually laugh at it, so it seems ridiculous.
I find that laughing at the inner critic (or finding it to be amusing) can really take the power away from what it’s trying to convince me is true, and it makes it seem silly and unrealistic instead.
And if that doesn’t work, try to imagine your inner critic as Snape dressed as Neville Longbottom’s Gran — and I’m sure whatever its trying to tell you will just seem totally ridiculous!
Do you remember the awesome show from the early 2000’s, Lizzie McGuire?
Well back in the day, I loved this show.
And I loved how Lizzie’s inner dialogue was represented through a mini cartoon character version of herself, that would share her unfiltered inner thoughts.
So another approach for when your inner critic is going haywire is to imagine it as coming from a cartoon character like Lizzie’s.
This makes whatever it’s saying seem silly and it helps you to not buy into what it’s trying to tell you is true.
Have you seen Inside Out? It’s delightful film that does a really good job of visually representing what is going on inside someone’s head. Plus I’ve found it to be a useful way to not buy into my inner critic.
If you’ve seen the movie you will know that Fear is one of the five emotions represented inside Riley’s head, he is introduced as “That’s Fear. He’s really good at keeping Riley safe.”
The character (voiced by Bill Hader) is purple, looks wired, on edge, anxious and is always anticipating danger.
Another approach I like to take with my inner critic is imagining that what it’s telling me is coming from the character Fear, who thinks everything is dangerous, anticipates constant danger, and is constantly overreacting.
This approach makes it easier to realise (and accept) that my inner critic is reacting irrationally, is just scared and wants to protect me.
When I first came across this road trip analogy it was used in the context for fear, in Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic (which I’ve talked about more here) and I thought it was absolutely genius.
And I also realised it could work for a whole lot of things, such as the inner critic.
So I’ve been experimenting with approaching my ego like it’s an uninvited tag along on a road trip.
It’s coming along for the trip, but the inner critic does not get a say in where we go, what we do or anything for that matter.
It can say anything it likes, but it does not get to control the journey.
It gets acknowledged, but doesn’t have any power.
It sits in the backseat and no matter what it says, it does not influence the trip (at all).
I’ve found that this approach really helps me to keep on track with what I’m doing, no matter how hard my inner critic is trying to hold me back.
This approach helps you to deal with your inner critic in a more compassionate and understanding way.
When your inner critic is being really judgemental imagine that these awful words were coming from someone else, a really good friend of yours.
How would you respond to them?
This approach makes me be so much kinder to my inner critic than usual, and I think that the inner critic really needs some kindness.
So there you have it, 6 of the more unique and fun ways I’ve experimented with to deal with my inner critic. I find that these really help me to not buy into what my ego is trying to tell me, which helps me to not get held back by it.
As we all have an inner critic (and dealing with it is something we all have to do) I would love to know this from you: How do you not buy into what your inner critic is saying? Share away in the comments below.
Love & Gratitude,
PS. You might also like: Are you your own worst enemy?
PPS. I talk more about befriending fear in my eBook Infinite, you can get your free copy at the end of this post.
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