G’day, guys. Today you’re going to learn about how to quieten your inner critic. So your inner critic is that voice in your head that tells you that you’re stupid or that you’re wrong or that you’re not allowed to do things that you want to do or generally makes your life kind of miserable by putting the boot in and ripping into you at any opportunity.
If you’re anything like me, you have, or maybe had in the past, a very strong inner critic that is the result of a lot of criticism that you may have received when you were a kid or as an adolescent or even growing up and as an adult. Criticism even as an adult can still sting.
Now, your inner critic, remember, is there to protect you. The idea here is that we have experiences as we’re growing up particularly where we step outside our comfort zone and get criticized by other people for acting in ways that we thought initially were quite normal and natural for us but tend to trigger other people around us, and a lot of people as an adult get triggered easily because they haven’t dealt with this kind of stuff in their own life, and the response of many adults to children doing things that trigger them is to shut the kids down and criticize them, punish them, for doing what they want to do.
Over time, the child learns not to step outside the boundaries of their comfort zone in order to avoid triggering the adults around them into punishing them, and the way that the child learns to do this is partly by internalizing a very strong inner critic that criticizes us before we go to step outside our comfort zone and do the things that otherwise we would’ve done quite naturally as a child had we not been punished for them in the past.
What this means is that our inner critic is actually trying to protect us from punishment that we received as a kid. The problem is that now as adults the world is a very different place that we live in, and many adults around us aren’t going to punish us for doing the things that we were punished for as a child.
Now, a classic example in my life is that at the all boys high school where I went to, if I were to turn up and be freely self-expressed with my emotions, to cry when I felt sad or to rage when I felt angry or to shake when I felt fearful, that will be a recipe for bullying and punishment, ridicule and humiliation. As a result, I learnt very strongly to keep my emotions to myself and be very guarded with how I felt.
The irony of this is that the number 1 complaint that I hear from women in their relationships with men is that the men won’t share their feelings with them and won’t open up. Now, it’s quite logical because these men went to schools very similar to the ones that I went to where, if you opened up your emotions, you were going to be humiliated, ridiculed and bullied.
So therefore we learn not to do that, and one of the ways that we internalize our learning is by developing a very strong inner critic which criticizes us before we go to do these things that we’ve been punished for in the past.
The problem with this is that a strategy developed as a child to survive the world rarely works well as an adult in the adult world. So a lot of us guys are still walking around with very strong inner critics that prevent us from doing the things that we would love to do in order to live the life that we would love to have, have the relationships that we’d love to have, the jobs we’d love to have and just to live the lives that we would really love.
So this leads to the question of how do you deal with this strong inner critic if you’re carrying one that you developed when you were a kid. Great question. So before I go into that, let me explain that the external world that we perceive is a mirror of what’s going on in our unconscious mind. So let me repeat that again: the external world that we experience around us is really just a mirror of what’s going on in our unconscious mind.
What this means is that if you want to change the world around you, the place to start is in your unconscious. But the reverse can also be true: changing the way that you interact with the external world also affects the mirror image in your unconscious mind. And that inner critic that runs in our conscious mind is simply a reflection of all the fear and shame and guilt that we’re still carrying in our unconscious mind.
So if you want to quieten your inner critic, one excellent way to do that is to start standing up for yourself in the real world to people who say the same sort of things to you that your inner critic says. Basically what I’m talking about here is, simply, assertiveness.
When you start being assertive with other people in the real world, your inner critic and your unconscious mind starts to learn that you have the ability to stand up for yourself, you don’t need to hold back all the time and your inner critic doesn’t need to keep reminding you that there are a lot of things that are unsafe because it starts to learn that you are safe. You’re perfectly safe in the world doing the things that you want to do. It’s just that as a kid when you did the things that you wanted to do, you got punished, you got humiliated or bullied and you learned that it wasn’t safe.
So once you start acting assertively in the real world, your unconscious mind learns that it’s okay to do what you want to do. It doesn’t need to keep stopping you doing what you want to do by criticizing you every time you go near your comfort zone. Over time, if you keep doing this, your comfort zone expands and your inner critic will quieten down to a voice which is much more manageable.
Once you’re finding that your inner critic is much more quiet, it’s then much easier to say to your inner critic, “Look, thank you for reminding me of what I needed as a kid to survive, but I don’t need your help any more.” And then you can still go and do the things that you really want to do, even though your inner critic might be saying in a soft voice that it’s not safe or it’s not okay.
Essentially at this point you’ve learnt that it’s okay to stop listening to your inner critic and keep taking action in the real world to do what you want to do so that you can get the results in your life that you really want.
Keep doing these two things over time: firstly, being assertive with people who say the sort of things to you that your inner critic says; and, secondly, just simply stop listening to your inner critic and keep taking action towards your goals anyway. And over time you’ll find that the voice of your inner critic actually fades to the point where you don’t even notice it any more, and eventually you’ll get to the point where you remember what it was like having one but it doesn’t seem real any more because it’s completely gone. And then you’ll find yourself in circumstances where you’ll go, “Wow, I can’t believe I was able to do that without my inner critic going off. It’s just not even there any more.”
Now, assertiveness is a big topic and I’ve made other videos which I recommend that you look at, and also The Confident Man Program Guide will give you some tips on this, on how to create a life where you have a lot of assertiveness and are doing things that you love. And remember that the key to quietening your inner critic in the first place is to stand up for yourself in the face of people and situations that say the same sort of things that your inner critic says to you internally.