Tuning Out the Inner Critic
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could change the mental radio station playing in your head? You could turn the dial away from K-Harsh, the all-critical all-the-time station. Where criticism plays at the worst times like a possessed radio in a horror movie.
It’s hard to tune out the inner critic when it gets consistent air time. The inner critic batters you with messages making you feel so low. Messages telling you, you’re not enough. The inner critic calls you names. You’re an idiot. You’re ugly. You’re fat. At least the inner critic could show a sense of humor and throw in a yo-mama joke every now and then. But the inner critic doesn’t do funny or favors. The inner critic is the negative version of Jack and the beanstalk, planting seeds of doubt that grow to towering heights.
The messages are harsh. They create insecurity. They foster fear. They’re unreasonable. The inner critic is often unrealistic, demanding instant success. It’s attitude … I told you so.
The inner critic puts out a vibe of dissatisfaction. By you never living up or being enough, the inner critic always gets to be right. The inner critic gets to rest in its’ comfy chair of dissatisfaction, unchallenged.
I Am Enough
What if for argument’s sake, you played a mental game with your inner critic. For mental exercise, let’s play the game “I am enough”. Give yourself whatever it is that the inner critic says you’re lacking. If you’re not smart enough, poof you’re a genius. If you’re not skinny enough, presto you’re skinny. If you good looking enough, abracadabra you’re now on the world’s most beautiful people top 10 list. If you’re not successful enough, bam your home are running out of room with all of the awards you’ve won, and your bank account runneth over. Incredibly, you’re enough. Nice, huh? But how long does that last?
If meeting the standard of the inner critic were even possible, does the inner critic stay satisfied for long? Is being enough, enough for the inner critic? Or is satisfaction temporary, quickly lost, followed by a return to dissatisfaction. An unending hunger for something outside of you. Whenever you feel like you aren’t enough, you feel shame. You live with a cloud over your head. Sometimes the cloud is more intense and feels like impending doom. Sometimes the cloud is less intense like a term paper you know that’s due. The scary thing about the inner critic is thinking about when does it ever end? Am I going to live like this for the rest of my life? Shame is not a life sentence.
The inner critic does something to your person. It distorts your self-image like a fun house mirror. You see a distorted image of yourself and believe that’s how you are. You are not distorted. You are fine. You are perfect as you are. You only feel like you are distorted because that is what you see. That is what you know.
I am having lunch with a friend, Sandra. She’s in her mid 30’s. Sandra is beautiful woman with a taste for fashion. But inside, she’s heartbroken. We’re talking personal stuff over Thai food. Sandra shares about her childhood and how she is working on recovering from it. Sandra tells me how she her mom had a substance problem and ended up being raised by her auntie from 2 years old on. She never knew her father, he was gone before she was one. Her auntie didn’t connect with her and had problems of her own. Sandra grew up fast and independent. She ran off with a guy by age 17, at the first opportunity she got. She packed up and moved to the other side of the country. That relationship quickly disintegrates.
Sandra had her struggles with substance abuse. The pain of her past an invisible scars that needed pacification. She diligently works on cutting the bindings of her past. If only she could see herself in a different way.
What I see is a beautiful, generous, loving soul. A woman who doesn’t know that the people who were supposed to reflect her growing up were broken. She grew up looking in a broken mirror. She saw herself through a broken reflection. This is all she knows. This is how she identifies. But there is nothing broken about her. She feels this way because she trusted her mirror. Her only crime. Her shame now deeply ingrained. If only she could find inner peace.
Sometimes when I’m working with someone who has deep shame I get really excited.
Amber sits across the table from me. She tells me about her situation.
“So what’s going on? What’s the situation?” I ask.
“I thought I was a shoo-in for employee of this month”
“Every month we have a luncheon and there’s a picture of the employee of the month in the break room. I didn’t see my picture. I thought I would because every other person that sits on the development committee has won recently. Plus, the program I started for new clients is making the company a ton of money. When I didn’t see my picture. I had to turn back and go to my office. I was so upset I started crying.”
“So you were feeling angry?”
“Yes. I was just so hurt they passed me over again.”
“When you feel hurt. It means that you have been devalued somehow. How were you devalued?”
“I feel devalued because I don’t feel like I’m enough. I’ve been working so hard.”
“When you feel like you are not enough. You’re actually feeling shame. Do you feel shame?”
Amber pauses for a moment, then relents. “Yes, I feel shame.”
I start to get excited. I know her shame runs deep. Amber has a history of disconnecting from her feelings. She lives her life in her head. The fact that she started to cry at work when she got passed over for employee of the month, puts a smile in my heart and mind. This is going to be a good one. Amber is going find a truth that she’s really need to know for a long time. Amber and I work our way through the 4 simple questions. She finds out that she’s been suffering for all these years because she needed to know she was special.
Amber’s truth is “I am special.” Not knowing she is special has been driving her. She’s compulsive about checking the dating app on her phone. She wants the attention of men to make her feel special. She was a bit of a party girl so she could be the life of the party and feel special. Knowing she is special empowers her to feel special on her own, and not at the mercy of men she dates.
The shame you feel is not who you are.
The shame you feel is not who you are, only who you believe yourself to be. Why? Because that’s how you feel. I see the shame, but I also see what lies underneath the shame. The gold worth digging for. The real you underneath the shame. The you, you were born to be and share.
Upside to the Inner Critic
There is an upside to the inner critic. The inner critic prompts you to heal if you choose. The inner critic communicates I’m ready to dig up this golden piece of me now. You see, the inner critic says, you’re unworthy. But really you just feel shame. It’s painful to even entertain the thought that you’re unworthy. But what your inner critic also says is, we’ve been feeling unworthy for far too long. Now is the time to change that. We’re ready now that’s why I bringing it up, we have suffered long enough.
When you are done with the feeling of being unworthy, work your way through the Four Simple Questions™. The Four Simple Questions finds the meaning in your suffering. They help bring clarity which allows you change from feeling unworthy, to feeling and knowing you’re worthy or something along those lines.
This is the up side of the inner critic. With the inner critic satisfied inner calm sets in. Inner calm lies just beneath the shame of your inner critic. You just have to make your way to the deeper level to discover the truth. You’re worth it.
How have you tried to shut down that inner critic in your head? If you have, how has that impacted your happiness?
If you would like to know more about how get to your truth and know in your body that you are acceptable. Let’s talk. Book your free call now. Click the link below to schedule your call. It will be the best hour you spend freeing yourself from shame.
Click here to book your call. www.shamehack.com
Shame is NOT a life sentence, so free yourself.