Everyone has an inner critic, who is yours?
Something that I’ve become increasingly aware of is how many of my readers suffer with an inner critic;, an internal voice that tells them they aren’t good enough or aren’t worthy. That pains me, that, really, really pains me, because each and every one of you is enough as you are.
When I first started out on my ventures with mental health, I had a really big, bad critical voice. A critical voice that would say things to me like:-
- You’re fat
- You’re ugly
- You’re weird
- Nobody will ever like you
- Nobody will ever love you
When we have these thoughts, it can be oh so simple to fall into a trap of believing them. We can start looking for things that aren’t really there, for example, when I believed that I was weird, I started to look at all the things that made me weird. Instead of focusing on being me, I focused my energy on stopping me from being me. I drove myself insane trying to capture and change all of my little idiosyncrasies and trying to make me more not me, purely for the sake of fitting in.
Well, not anymore.
Finding Your Inner Critic
I want to introduce you to this CBT-based exercise that somehow made Aragog become part of my evveryday life. Yeah, I know, the big, hairy tarantula from Harry Potter. He was the first thing I thought of when doing this exercise, okay? Hear me out.
I want you to read the following 5 sentences two or three times:
- You are fat
- You are stupid
- Nobody likes you
- Nobody loves you
- You’re a freak
Done that? Now I want you to close your eyes and imagine someone or something saying these things to you. it doesn’t matter if they are:
- Male, female (or anything in between)
- Old or young
- Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Martian (or any other race or existence, for that matter)
- Real or imaginary (though, I’d like to think that aliens are friendly!)
Finished? Great! You’re halfway there.
Now I want you to give them a name. Done that too? Fantastic!
This is your inner critic. This is the person (or thing) that bullies you. This is what your inner bully looks like and what it is called/ Now that you know this, you can start fighting back.
For me, I imagine Aragog, with his black, beady eyes, his big fangs and his huge, hairy body. I imagine him in his cave, haunting me, taunting me and harassing me, but I don’t have to listen to him, and you don’t need to listen to your bully, either.
So when Aragog starts telling me things, things like “you’re weird” or “you’re worthless”, I can argue back at him. With a sharp, quiet “shut up, Aragog”, I can usually start to feel a little more in control.
It takes time, it takes practice and it takes determination. Don’t be afraid to silently say whatever you want to say to your inner critic, after all, it’s your bully, and only you have that incredibly toxic relationship with them.
Even if this exercise feels silly (because in some ways it is), that could just be your inner critic resisting change. Push past it anyway. You’re worth it.
Once you’ve reprimanded your inner critic, it’s vitally important that you ignore it to the best of your ability. If you engage with it, you engage with the thoughts and allow them to continue dragging you down. Once you’ve put your bully in their place, pull your socks up and find something useful, fun or exciting to do – something your inner critic wouldn’t want you to do!
Good luck out there, and great big hugs to you, my brave soldier, you can do this! Now, go get ’em!
Stay safe & have fun,