The Inner Critic [...] makes us see a distorted picture. It is that inner voice that criticises us and speaks about us in a disparaging way. It makes everything look ugly. Most of us are not even aware that it is a voice or a self speaking inside of us because its constant judgments have been with us since early childhood and its running critical commentary feels like a natural part of ourselves. It develops early in our lives, absorbing the judgments of the people around us and the expectations of the society in which we live. When we talk about this critical voice, please keep in mind that this Inner Critic is the voice within us that criticises us, whereas the Judge is the self within us that criticises other people.
No matter how much you try, you cannot please your Inner Critic. No matter how much you listen to it and try to change yourself in the way that it wants, it follows you and grows stronger. It is exactly like a parent who has been critical of you. Nothing that you do is okay. It is also like a dragon that keeps growing more heads as long as you do not deal with it. The harder you try to change yourself, the stronger it gets. Try to please it, and it will grow. The answer is to learn how not to play the game.
The Inner Critic is a self (or sub-personality) that develops to protect us from being shamed or hurt. It is extremely anxious, almost desperate, for us to succeed in the world and to be accepted and liked by others.The Inner Critic is remarkable in a number of different ways. It seems to operate with heightened awareness in all areas. It can see, hear, and feel what is wrong with us as though it had the most advanced technology at its disposal. It has the intelligence of a genius, an uncanny intuition, an ability to analyse our feelings and motivations, a sweeping gaze that notices the tiniest of details, and, in general, an unerring ability to see and to magnify all our faults and shortcomings. It seems to be a lot more intelligent and perceptive than we ordinary mortals are.
The Critic remembers all too well the pain of our childhood, the innumerable times when we were shamed and criticised and made fun of. It remembers the anxiety of our parents about money. It still feels, through the feelings of the Inner Child, the terror of abandonment when we were left alone or when a divorce or separation caused a parent to leave. It desperately wants us to avoid that primal pain, and the only way it can handle it is to make us perfect To make us perfect it must criticise us because it has no other way to help us.
The Inner Critic is active for varying amounts of time in each of us. For more people than you could possibly imagine, it is practically a full-time operation. In other instances it plays a lesser role. In our experience, it is operating to some degree in everyone. Some people are not aware of their Inner Critic because, instead of criticising themselves, they spend their time judging other people. However, if life deals them a blow that breaks their power, such as a divorce or illness, the Critic is right there doing its job.
Critics vary in how powerful they are. We often refer to them jokingly as lightweight, middleweight, or heavyweight. A good heavyweight Critic starts to move into the two-thousand-pound range and can go much higher than that. Though the Inner Critic takes great pride in its rationality, once we separate from it we see just how irrational it is. One of the best exercises offered in the book, requires you to write down some of the statements you tell yourself about yourself. It's usually something about the quality of your work, how you look, how you disappoint etc. Once you see these statements, think back if they remind you of someone. Did you hear this being said to you? Or maybe you imagined someone thinking this about you? Very quickly, you'll see these collection of statements are actually not yours... You are not the author. Bit by bit you'll start to separate from these statements as you'll see they are, in fact, not your own thoughts. They originated in other people and were intended to protect you. As these thoughts are no longer serving that purpose, and actually causing you harm, there is no more need for them to stick around.
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