Article by Angie Webster
Every one of us has an inner critic, that voice that tells us we’re doing it all wrong, or we’re not doing enough or we should be doing something different. In fact, our inner critic has many lists of “shoulds”. To the inner critic, our appearance is never quite good enough and our house is never quite clean enough. Some of us have a more relaxed inner critic that we have made some level of peace with and others have an inner critic that can be quite brutal. But we all have one.
It can sometimes seem that we are in a war with these inner voices that constantly judge us. But the truth is, the inner critic is a part of us and it has a job to do. Its role is to keep us safe in the world and to help us function well in our societal roles. If our inner critic is functioning in a balanced manner, it acts as more of a guide than a judge. However, when it is overly developed, it can be more of a slave driver, expecting perfection in all things, yet never recognizing your true worth. An overdeveloped inner critic is never satisfied.
When our inner critic is not active enough, we may have no guidance system at all, having no sense of moral judgment and lacking direction. Like all things, a place of balance must be found. It is rarely the case that someone has an underdeveloped inner critic, as most of our inner critics are very over active. These develop in response to hearing those who raise us judge and criticize us, each other and those outside of our homes. We internalize the criticism as a means of avoiding receiving it more harshly from others. Basically, we become our own inner parents.
If you have an overly developed inner critic, there is no need to fight against this part of yourself. Rather than trying to overthrow it or demonize it, acknowledge that it is trying to protect and parent you. This does not mean you have to continue cowering to it or believing all that it says to you. You can begin to change the conversation you have with your inner critic by offering it healing!
It is true that the harsh voice is going about its job in an aggressive manner, so your first job is to notice your own tendency to believe what it says. Notice when you are engaging with your inner voice and whether it is the critic or another part of you. Notice also how you feel in your body. When you are engaged with the inner critic you will likely feel sensations of constriction or tightness in your body (perhaps in your chest, head, throat, or belly). This is a sign to evaluate if the message you are receiving is true or a misrepresentation.
Harsh words are usually not the truth. Breathe and let them go. Re-evaluate and see what else you can find in the situation. If you are hearing that you aren’t good enough, stop the words and say to yourself, “I accept you, just as you are, right in this moment, whatever is happening, no matter what you are feeling.” Place your hand over your heart and spend a moment sending Reiki to yourself. Direct Reiki toward your inner critic as well, offering healing, acceptance, appreciation and love. Forgive it for its imbalance and its unknowing of your worth. Understand that it is doing its best to help you. Know that, in time, it will begin to synch more with your true Self and will still keep you quite safe.
Angie Webster is a Reiki Master, Teacher, and Author. Angie’s primary focus is animal Reiki, which she adores. She teaches online classes on energy healing, flower essences, herbalism, and personal growth. Angie often works with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Animal Reiki: How it Heals, Teaches & Reconnects Us with Nature and Reiki from A to Z. You can follow her at: angie-webster-healing.teachable.com and on Facebook (facebook.com/angiewebsterhealing).