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  • Writer's pictureChrissy Emanuele

Tell your inner critic to "F*ck off"

It's unbelievable how damaging your inner critic is to you. No matter how hard you work, no matter how much progress you make, that fucker, she just won't budge an inch. It's never good enough, you're never cool enough, smart enough, skinny enough. You can never do anything right. Even when you ste

p back and look at yourself in the mirror and say "Wow, I've changed" that little fucker is going to respond to you with "Well, that's nice and all, but why couldn't you do it sooner". Like, geez, come on, CUT ME SOME SLACK!

In the past 15 years working in mental health, and the past 5 years in private practice, I have encountered persons from all walks of life, with varying incomes, jobs, races, genders, and so often the commonality is that their inner critic is truly fucking up their world.

I'm not like that though. My inner critic maybe should give a shit slightly more than it does. I operate under the perspective that "good enough is often good enough". Not saying I am without my own issues and struggles but beating myself down is not one of them.

So, what's the magic trick? I wish I could easily say "Well reader, it is about the conversation you have with yourself, so change the conversation and you will notice the difference." This is true. Like unequivocally true. Expect here is the bitch of it. That inner conversation has been going on for (insert your age) years. And old habits (and conversations) die hard. So it's about hard work, like seriously hard work (that's why we go to therapy, to pay someone else to help us with the hard work, just like cleaning the gutters). But preliminarily here are some questions you can be asking yourself (while you find your new therapist):

  • Who's voice do you hear? Scolding mom, over critical and emotionally distant dad, who is it you hear? - Are the words, phrases and tone you deliver to yourself in that inner critics voice yours? Or are they one of a loved ones that a key role in your upbringing. I am not going to get into nature vs. nurture here, but at the end of the day, our parents (even the most well intentioned and loving ones) fuck us up to a certain degree. So listen closely, who do you hear?

  • Do you notice when you are doing it? I practice a type of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Noticing is a skill we talk about a lot. If the inner critic is playing on a constant loop; Do you ever step back and say to yourself "Hey, is that nasty ass bitch of a critic running her trap again... I see you". When you Notice, you step back in that moment and can look at what you are doing from a place of mindfulness. It is the ability to observe your thoughts.

  • Are you judging yourself for having an inner critic? I know this may be one I need to unpack a bit. But very simply we often have a thought, feeling, etc and then judge ourselves for having it. For example, your inner critic says " Ugh, why did you say that idea in the meeting, it was such a stupid idea" and then your secondary judgement is " Gosh, i am so hard on myself, why am i so fucked up". So now we have added a another layer of despair on top of embarrassment. If you notice your critic, you must, 100% have to, meet yourself with compassion and/or kindness. It catches them off their game. The inner critic feeds off toxicity, judgement, anger. Kill them with kindness.

  • Do you think that it motivates you? Time and time again, I hear from persons that are either financially and professionally successful (in the most traditional sense) and persons that are desiring change, that their inner critic is what drives them to do better, be better, work harder, etc. On this I say, "Fair enough". You are right. Negative reinforcement is motivating. If every time you opened the freezer to grab the ice cream, you were punched in the face, you are right, it would be motivating to stop opening that freezer. Does that mean it is the best way of going about it? I would argue no. I challenge you to really ask yourself, is it possible to be motivated in another way, through another method or a different approach?

It's time to turn towards yourself. Turn towards your critic, get to know them in the most intimate sense of the word. We can't take down and adversary if we don't know who we are fighting. It is important we understand our inner critic in order to defeat them. You deserve better than the critic has to offer you.

So let's say it together people, "Hey Inner Critic, F*CK OFF"

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