Do you have a loud, foul-mouthed, mean woman living in your head?
You know – that inner voice that talks down to you and says you’re:
… not good enough.
… Or don’t have what it takes.
… That you can’t do it.
…That you’re never going to get what you want in life, business and love?
Yes. THAT voice. The one that sabotages all the super plans, dreams and ideas you have.
The one that halts your enthusiasm.
That stalls your progress.
Does that voice sound familiar at all?
I’ve got both my hands in the air.
The BEST times an Inner Critic LOVES to show up are:
At a crossroad wanting to decide which way to go.
Going for that job.
Asking for a raise.
Ending a relationship or making one official.
Meeting new people.
Starting a business.
Continuing your studies.
Expressing your feelings.
Showing up as you are….
It could be an insignificant incident or a traumatic one. As simple as a bully, a rejection, a heartbreak or be more traumatic like a job loss, a toxic parent, an abuse.
It can be a thought that is passed down from our culture that tells us: how we “ should” be and how we “ have” to be.
Whether insignificant or traumatic. It WAS a painful experience. And the BOTTOM LINE message we got from this pain is that we’re:
“Not good enough, not lovable enough, not smart enough or didn’t have “it” in us.”
We of course all have different stories. But we have the same feeling of fear and avoiding that pain. That inner critic comes back to remind you of that painful incident. But it’s not real in the present moment. It’s a story we chose to believe. I chose to believe that I need to be perfect to navigate life. This belief exhausted me.
I want to take you through a process to support you to understand what type of Inner Critic you’re actually struggling with.
If you’re feeling any of these right now:
Yes- They’re ALL manifestations of your Inner Critic playing against YOU.
When you know which one is your main Inner Critic it makes it clear and easier to see how you may be playing against yourself and this will help you regain and expand your self trust and confidence.
Understanding why your Inner Critic shows up and how it behaves allows you to become more self aware. That self awareness alone is pure magic.
Let’s start with…1. The Underminer
You know you’re struggling with The Underminer Inner Critic when you chronically don’t take risks or try new activities where you think you might fail.
It says to you:
“Don’t apply for that job!”
” You can’t be successful”
“Don’t try this new thing, You don’t know anything about it”
” You don’t have what it takes to start your business”
“You never seem to get it right do you?”
“Who do you think you are for doing this or wanting that?”
“You’re not an expert in that topic, you should go study more.”
“You’re going to fail- again.”
You’re not good enough.”
The Underminer’s mission is for you to “stay small and safe” so you don’t run the risk of being criticized for being highly visible and well-known.
That could leave you feeling worthless or inadequate or incompetent. The attacks are aimed at undermining your confidence so you won’t take chances or do anything that might not be safe.
Why it shows up:
The Underminer often gets these ideas from something that happened in your family, or culture, as you were growing up. You may indeed have been rejected or punished for being strong, or visible, or feeling good about yourself. Or you may have seen other people you know (or don’t know) suffer this fate. And so it decided that to keep you safe and protect you, it will make sure you never undergo the same tragedy. Ever. Again.
This Underminer is afraid you might become too powerful or recognized in your area of expertise. It fears you might be rejected for that or loose something precious such as time with your family or privacy or something else you strongly value.
If you show a certain quality, such as strength, intelligence, quirkiness or self-confidence, it fears that you will be hurt, rejected, and criticised for that. It wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to you as an adult. Never. Ever. It is willing to sacrifice your self-esteem to protect you from this.
The moment you start feeling you want to push your limits and expand outside your comfort zone and start thinking that you are not courageous or don’t have what it takes- That’s the time you’ll have to consider to rewire how you talk to yourself in a way that supports you, your zone of genius and your core strengths.2. The Guilt-Tripper
The Guilt-tripper is the Inner Critic part that makes you feel bad about certain things you have done (and not done). It holds on to the past and reminds you of hurtful actions you may have taken. It punishes you unmercifully for what it sees as your wrong-doing, making you believe you’re a super bad person. It won’t allow you to forget what you’ve done or forgive yourself for it. So it keeps replaying what you’ve done and said- over and over again.
It says to you:
“What you said or did is unacceptable, you’re a bad person”
“You should do this THAT way.
“You shouldn’t have said THAT”
“You have to do THIS.”
“You have to follow the standard behaviours prescribed by your community, culture and family.”
” You should cook for your family that’s the proper way to be a mother”.
” You can’t change your job and go for something different, your parents have paid so much for your studies”.
Examples of how The Guilt Tripper plays against you:
It is especially concerned about your relationships. It deeply honours the values of your culture, family, or religion. It expects you to be a loving daughter, a devoted mother, an impeccable sister, to be there present for everyone. If you have failed in any role that has resulted in perceived harm to a loved one, this critic will attack you mercilessly.
It attacks you for what you have done or haven’t done. For acting foolish, or unkind or not acting when action was called for. There’s always something to build a “Guilt Trip case” on.
The Guilt-tripper inner critic tries to keep you connected. It wants to make sure that you belong to your “tribe” or any other group that it feels is important to your welfare. It doesn’t want you to be alone or alienated. By continually reminding you of what you have done, it aims to make you a better person, so you never do “such a terrible thing” again. It tries to protect you from repeating past mistakes by making sure you never forget or feel free.
Why it shows up:
This behaviour often comes from someone in your childhood who had a very strong sense of duty and made you feel you always had to owe thanks to what they’ve done or given you. That there’s a certain right way or wrong way to be and you have to follow those rules of conduct or else…
This Inner Critic makes you feel uncomfortable when the Free Spirit in you wants to break free and do things your own (special) way because it wants to and strongly desires to versus just doing them because they should and have to.3. The Conformist
The Conformist Inner Critic tries to fit you into a certain mold, or get you to be a certain way. It holds you up to expectations that originated with your parents, community, heritage, or culture. The conformist decided to adopt these expectations as their own. It attacks you when you don’t fit the mold, and praises you when you do.
It says to you:
“Fit in so you will be liked and admired.”
” At all cost conform and follow”.
” Keep doing whatever was done. Do not question. Do not challenge the status quo.”
“Fit in that box. Don’t reinvent the wheel.”
“What will people say?”
The Conformist compares you to other people whom it admires. And you end up molding yourself to their way of leading their life, dressing up, talking or doing business. But, deep down at the core, you don’t put your own personal touch to what you admire in others. You stay in your own usual identity, holding normal beliefs about who you are, consistent with yoir custom and culture. If you start to open up emotionally or spiritually, or transform your consciousness, The Conformist may attack you to prevent change and to allow your individuality to show up.
The Conformist’s deepest fear is that the Rebel or the Free Spirit in you would act in ways that are unacceptable. Doing things differently and going off the beaten tracks are an absolute terror for The Conformist inner critic. So it keeps you from being in touch with and expressing your purest true nature that may be wild and unconventional. It’s afraid that this will leave you confused and lost and wants to protect you from being abandoned, rejected and judged.4. The Perfectionist
The Perfectionist tries to get you to do everything perfectly. It has very high standards for your behavior and especially for stuff you create or tasks you perform. That’s the inner critic I personally struggled with for years.
It says to you:
“No. it’s not quite done yet.”
“It’s not the right time”.
“You need to perfect that.”
“Any work you produce has to be impeccable.”
“You’re not quite ready, you should be better at this.”
” Don’t show your work, it still needs more work.”
“Do not make a any mistake.”
How it show up in your day to day:
The Perfectionist is there to remind you when what you have produced still isn’t good enough and must be improved to exacting standards before anyone sees it.
You feel anxious or agitated when it’s time to turn in a project.
The Perfectionist makes you doubt the quality of what you have produced by focusing only on its possible shortcomings. The result is that you end up working much harder and longer on a project than is really necessary.
People with Perfectionist parts often are unable to turn anything in until they have reached the absolute deadline; and some may consistently turn in work late.
The Perfectionist biggest fear is to stamp something as finished. It is afraid that if you turn in something that isn’t absolutely perfect, you will be judged, rejected, dismissed, or even ridiculed. It may be afraid that you will be seen as mediocre, because it feels that excellence is required for you to be OK. The Perfectionist believes that you have a sloppy part that would be willing to turn in inferior work, and its job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. Ever.
Most Perfectionist parts learned this approach by modeling themselves after a parent, guardian, or teacher–someone who was also a perfectionist, and never satisfied with what you produced, only focusing on what needed correction.
The worse case scenarios:
The Perfectionist is so frightened of failure that it won’t let you produce anything. The first few rounds of work on any project will be preliminary and require more work. However, some Perfectionists can’t stand to produce anything that is less than so-called perfect, even if they aren’t going to show it to anyone. A part like this may interfere with your ability to even get started on a project.
How The Perfectionist may also show up:
The Over-Achiever inner critic tries to get you to work really hard at everything you do. It wants you to be disciplined. It tries to regulate certain behaviors that it has decided are not good for you or other people, or that might be dangerous–believing that without its efforts you will fly out of control and ruin your life. Completely. It has very fixed and precise standards for how you should live. It’s rigid and authoritarian.
It tells you:
“You must work this hard to be recognized as a good person — or even to be just OK.”
” I despise mediocrity”.
“You have to be better. Push harder”
“work hard and be successful.”
“You know what everyone should do better than they do”.
“You are the only one who can do this”.
Why it shows up:
It may do this because it wants you to be successful, and thereby gain the rewards of success: money, praise, power, freedom, admiration. Or it may do this because it doesn’t want you to be seen as a failure, or mediocre, and therefore be judged, shamed, rejected.
The Over-Achiever shows up this:
One kind of Over-Achiever is more concerned that you develop a discipline, such as meditation, or exercise, or eating in a healthy way. It may want you to get the benefits of rigidly following such a discipline.
Another type of Over-Achiever wants you to accomplish the ordinary things that are needed for your life to work, such as doing your taxes, cleaning your house, or mowing your lawn.
It is easy to see that the Over-Achiever wants what’s best for you. But it becomes a problem if it pushes you too hard, or expects too much from you, not allowing you to be relaxed and easy going. These demands often fail to respect your need for a healthy balance in your life. A moment for rest and catching your breath. The biggest problem with the Over-Achiever is that it attacks you for not living up to its expectations.
The Over-Achiever believes that only by working very hard, and being extremely well disciplined, will you get good results. It believes the best way to get you to do this is for it to tell you, in no uncertain terms, what you “should” be doing; and to ride you unmercifully to do it. It thinks that the harder it pushes, the more likely you’ll succeed. The Over-Achiever may believe that if you take any time off from your project, or fail even once to do your discipline, you will be a failure. Its attitude is “all or nothing”.
The Over-Achiever may ignore the connection between the work it wants you to do and the results it wants to see. It just tells you what you “should” do. Never acknowledging you for what you’ve done well. It’s a constant push push push- until you burn out sometimes.
Pushing yourself this hard may activate a Rebel and Freedom part of you who’ll fight against the Over-Achiever mindset because you need to take more time off and slow down to get away from the Over-Achiever’s unrelenting demands. This may set up an inner conflict where you must learn to work with these different energies ( achieving and resting), so that you to learn to relax and trust yourself even if you’re taking time off you’ll still succeed.6. The People Pleaser
This Inner Critic looks very sweet from the outside. But it truly plays tricks on you and your own sense of getting to understand: what you want, who you are and what you stand for.
Of course, we all want to please those we love. However, in this case, The People Pleaser Inner Critic is chronically wanting to please everyone- all the time- at its own expense.
It tells you:
“Put your focus on others. If others are ok. You’re ok.”
“Make sure everyone is happy with you is the way to keep the status quo.”
“Do not confront anyone at all costs. it’s unsafe.”
“Don’t rock the boat.”
“Avoid speaking your mind”.
“Go along with what someone wants or with their opinion.”
“Try to be who someone wants me to be.”
” Find a strong person to take over your life and make it work.”
“Don’t get angry because you’ll disturb the status quo and upset someone.”
“Try to be nice rather than expressing how you really feel.”
“Make sure everyone gets along.”
What People-Pleasing Looks Like:
If you have a People-Pleasing Pattern, you often try to be who others want you to be, to agree with them, to fit in. You may not be consciously aware that you are doing this, but there is a part of your psyche that wants to please others in order to avoid reactions that you’re afraid of.
The Pleaser Inner Critic ends up putting your own personal plan on the back burner because you come as second priority.
…Other needs come before your own. If someone asks you for something, you have a hard time not giving it.
…You have a hard time saying No or setting limits and healthy .
…You want other people’s approval, and even more importantly, you want to avoid other people’s disapproval.
As a result you may have difficulty expressing your feelings, desires, or opinions. You may not even know what you want or what you believe because it might be different from someone you want to please. You may end up thinking and feeling what other people are thinking and feeling, because any difference is threatening. Until the Free Spirit inside of you starts giving you a nudge…
Learning how to explore your inner critic and transforming it is a powerful process to move in the direction of your goals, dreams and aspirations.
When you choose fear (inner badgering) over self love (support and compassion) you disconnect from your truth, your zone of genius and your potential and your inner knowing.
The FIRST step is knowing which one of these 6 Inner Critics is your MAIN one ( we may have a mix of some).
SECOND, You learn to develop the grounding and strength to separate from your Inner Critic’s message so you have room to breathe and find your TRUE center again and tap into your wisdom and resourcefulness.
THIRD, with this process of self awareness you get to discover why your Inner Critic is there showing up when you least want it. There’s always a good reason and uncovering that reason will make you understand more about yourself and turn that Inner voice around.
FOURTH, The process of liberating from your Inner Mean Woman is developing your Inner Advisor and Inner Fan to support you to be yourself and feel good about yourself. You then get to re-calibrate how you talk to yourself.
FIFTH, Inner criticism is fear in disguise. And learning how to use turn fear into courageous choices takes you a step further towards being true to you and leading your most courageous life.
Originally published at cherinekurdi.com