Is "The Critic" Running Your Life?

The Critic is that inner voice or feeling that tells you you’re no good, just lazy or somehow defective. Everybody has one and every psychological system recognizes it. Focusing calls this destructive super ego talk The Critic.

Where does it come from? In childhood, we internalized the way we perceived the voices of our authority figures, usually our parents and teachers. Now these voices are no longer outside. They’re in our heads.

Does it have any value? Probably your Critic just wants you to be a successful human being. But it goes about it the wrong way – like those parents you hear screaming at their little kid to shape up. Their intention is all right. The way they go about it is damaging.

The Critic has no value. It’s not your conscience. It’s not what keeps you on the straight and narrow. (It may take a while to convince yourself of this.)

How should I deal with it? Don’t engage with it. You’re sure to lose! Here are the steps.

1) Recognize it. We become so accustomed to this disparaging voice that we don’t even notice it. How to recognize the Critic? It speaks in a shrill, harsh tone. You’ve been feeling fine and suddenly you feel lousy. (Your conscience speaks in a still, small voice. It might give the same underlying message, but your conscience speaks softly and puts it in a way that won’t undermine you.)

2) Tell it in no uncertain terms to get lost. Treat it the same way you would (hopefully) deal with a person in real life who was following you around, making you feel terrible about yourself.

3) Practice this until you can be the winner in the fight for your peace of mind. Remember that the Critic’s mission is to keep you from being all that you really are.

You’ll never be rid of it entirely, but it’s your job to cut it down to size.

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