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The Inner Critic: Loving Yourself With Curiosity


May. 23, 2022 Psychology Today

Loving ourselves: It is so much easier said than done, isn’t it? Yet it is so necessary for our healing and wellness. When we emotionally beat ourselves up for feeling down, we will only continue to feel down. So how do we go about changing that narrative? I believe it’s about greeting the inner critic with curiosity.

Most people might suggest ignoring the inner critic or attempting to get rid of it altogether, but in my experience that has not been successful. The inner critic is often the internalized voice of someone else and over time the brain has held on to the messages and has carried those messages with us. Our job is to learn how to not only turn down the volume but also to gather data on what it might be trying to protect you from. Protection, you might ask? Yes, protection. The inner critic may be attempting to keep you out of feeling raw, vulnerable, and uncomfortable, and so it may grasp on to criticism and perfectionism to keep you from feeling that way. But here is what we know: Discomfort is where change most often happens, so maybe, just maybe, that inner critic is actually working hard at preventing change. Learn to work with it and you may grow in ways you never dreamed of.

Perhaps taking steps towards a more loving inner monologue may shift the power of your inner critic.

Practicing daily affirmations, reading and listening to inspiring podcasts, writing yourself a loving and kind note or greeting card, engaging in self-care activities, taking time to practice breathing exercises, engaging in gentle movement with your body such as stretching or yoga, exploring a new hobby or revisiting one you used to love, or taking time to create art or journal about your fears. These are all some ways to take good loving care of ourselves, especially when we are feeling down, defeated, or stuck.

If we simply sit and listen to the critic on repeat, we will feel powerless, defeated, unappreciated, and paralyzed. One small step towards shifting the inner dialogue and doing an activity to shift our thinking may just help us all get back to center and to appreciate the humans that we are versus the human the critic tells us that we are not.

Be kind and gentle with yourself, take one small step towards reframing your thinking, and stay curious.

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