The “Inner Critic” is that voice in your head that is constantly chattering away about your performance, appearance, intelligence, social skills… well, you name it and the Inner Critic has a dark opinion about it. Wikipedia defines Inner Critic as: “a sub-personality that judges and demeans a person”.
Physically, you can thank a small almond shaped part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for the perception of emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness, as well as the controlling of aggression. It stores memories of events and emotions so that you may be able to recognize similar events in the future and if those events caused you pain, your amygdala will alert you to stay far, far away.
Psychologically, your Inner Critic voice is formed out of painful early life experiences in which you witnessed or experienced hurtful attitudes toward you or those close to you. As you grew up, you unconsciously adopted and integrated these patterns of destructive thoughts toward yourself and others.
However, it is not the Inner Critic that creates the emotions of fear/anxiety/worry/panic. The source of your emotions are your thoughts about that situation. The amygdala stored your perceptions of events; not the facts of the events. Hence why it is critical to your self-development that you notice and test your thoughts about you and your world. What you perceive is not necessarily reality.
Let’s say you are in a meeting and your boss calmly adds your project update to the agenda. This is two weeks ahead of when you thought you’d be giving this update. Chances are had instant thoughts of anxiety/panic/fear (insert emotion of choice). Your body may have even responded with elevated heart rate, sweating, shallow breathing. It happens in a flash: a situation occurs, you have thoughts about it, you then have feelings and automatic responses from those feelings.
The key is to slow down so you can notice and examine the thoughts spiraling around in your head. Write out and scrutinize each thought. Are they true? They may feel true, but that is not the question you are asking. Investigate the thought like a scientist. Most likely they are not true but an exaggeration of your fears.
When you fail to identify and test your Inner Critic’s monologue, you allow it to impact your behavior and shape the direction of your life. It may sabotage your successes or your career and relationships, preventing you from living the life you want to lead.
Take charge of your thinking. Slow down and notice those painful thoughts. Test them. Delete the extreme exaggerations of your fears and start taking small steps forward. The life you want to lead is right on the other side of those fears.
CALL TO ACTION: Grab my free gift, “The Inner Critic Worksheet” here: Karen Darrin Coaching Blog when you sign-up for my weekly “tips & tools” email.