A while back I was talking with a pal, one of those wide ranging conversations that prompts a series of pennies dropping faster than a jackpot moment at a coin shove machine. We were so excited by our clarity we tumbled over each other’s sentences – eager to articulate the conscious connections – desperate not to interrupt each other’s flow but talking over each other despite ourselves. We were so inspired we took notes. I thought at the time that I really must put it down in a love letter for crazyhappygorgeous.
Then I got the fear and subsequently left my little essay in one of my five squillion notebooks. I found it this morning, deciphered my scruffy writing, acknowledged the cussing and decided that in fact – it’s a genuine, honest piece and poignant.
I really am still allowing my inner bastard to trip me up when it comes to turning up and writing for this blog. So before the vicious subjects of our chat gang up on me and without further blah dee blah, I give you my observations on spotting your inner critic and some ideas on how to ditch your inner bastard.
If you find yourself second guessing yourself, unable to make big decisions because your mental inner chat is – well – MENTAL – if you often feel insecure, unsure or just under attack – then I would Iike to gently suggest you’d got an inner bastard. You may have more than one.
Now a caveat.
There’s plenty out there about inner critics, they’re good, they’re bad – they’re voices in your head that need medication.
Here’s my take up front. A healthy inner voice, able to help you evaluate your options, actions and/or environment – is a good thing. A very GOOD thing and something to be cultivated. Critical thinking is a mark of a civilised, intelligent being. Guard it, practice it and strengthen your skill. It will build confidence, wisdom and agency. Your ability to assess and decide is fully supported by a healthy critical faculty.
Right! Now then – Here’s how you check your inner critic is a genuine force for good – or a fucking bastard!
1) Does your inner critic speak in your own voice? If it doesn’t it is almost certainly someone who’s view you have internalised. You are going to have to work on that. Listen closely to what it tells you – the tone, phrasing – maybe you know exactly who it is?
2) Does your inner critic give you good advice? IF the blighter is too busy banging on about past experiences, particularly those where you fucked it right up. I’m betting your inner critic is a bastard! They really like eroding your confidence by reminding you of all the ways you are deficient. Not true my love. Total twaddle in fact.
3) Does the stuff your inner critic(s) say make you feel small, stupid, hurt, offended or in any way like crap? They do? They’re bastards. If someone said that to your best mate – you’d go mediaeval wouldn’t you? I bloody would!
4) Do they pipe up at every opportunity even when there’s no need for them to chip in. Yet still they’re having a go? Ditch ’em – they’re bastards! Be mindful of the slow ‘drip drip drip’ of internal critique. It’s soul destroying.
5) Does your inner critic comment on your appearance, what you wear, your choice of make up, food, the size of your Kaboose, whether you’ve got a thigh gap, white teeth dah dee dah? I’m saying – BASTARD!
We internalise criticism and some times some critics do such a bang up job over time that they don’t even need to pick up the phone or publish in a magazine, viral tweet, vlog etc. to deliver they’re crap any more. They’ve done such a good number on you, that you are happy to do the job for them – chipping away, destroying your sense of well-being and confidence, delaying your brilliance and eroding your happy. This can’t go on.
What would you tell a friend who rocked up and said: ‘I’m feeling awful, someone keeps telling me that I am useless, and stupid and I can’t face applying for this great job I’ve spotted.’
You’d explode in a firework of righteous indignation. You’d do your best to boost your friend’s confidence and persuade them to disregard any advice or pronouncements that were less than objective or supportive. The job may not be for your pal. So what. That’s not the point. Surely the point is that we support ourselves and each other by offering positive acceptance and advice.
So why would you listen to an internal voice spewing confidence destroying rubbish?
Because you’ve been trained to – and the good news is that with a bit of focus you can train yourself out of it. Hooray for growing up – moving on – finding balance and self acceptance.
Start by identifying your inner critics. Who are they? What are their characteristics? When you identify them they begin to lose power. Have a good laugh at them and the bastards will slink away. They’re sneaky fuckkers so you will need to stay vigilant and remember you are in recovery – so be gentle on yourself.
Next: Keep a journal. EVERY time one of the bastards turns up – right a quick note, what they said, how they said it – the tone, the words. How you felt – what impact it had on your actions, decisions or self talk.
Know your enemy.
I have one that watches every, and I mean EVERY morsel of food I put into my gob and looks on in disgust, murmuring about getting fatter, being greedy, lazy – UNLOVEABLE.
I know her intimately – she’s my FAT BASTARD.
Her voice isn’t mine, it’s not helpful or supportive – just mean and spiteful. She doesn’t help me to eat well and take care of myself – I’m more likely to feel like crap and scoff, or worse starve or restrict whole food groups, if I pay her any attention. So when she turns up, I have to work hard to ditch her.
1) I tell her to FUCK OFF! Out loud if necessary…
2) I note that she’s turned up – check what I’m eating and be honest with myself if I am over indulging.
3) I trigger a conscious and mindful approach to what I am eating.
4) I take full charge. In the case of the FB – by making a plan for eating for the day and consulting my own supportive inner voice about where I would like to put my focus.
5) I actively ask myself some questions instead of shrinking under the judgement and mean spirited spewing of my inner bastard.
Am I choosing unhealthy options? Am I overeating because I’m:
Wilful? *a genuine regular reason in my case – my inner defiant kid is a constant companion.
What can I do to combat the feelings that trigger comfort eating?
6) I take action. However small – shift the energy, make a plan and take control.
The effect here is obvious. I’ve allay upp’d the bastard but crucially I’ve used the difficulty like a paduan boss and dealt with an issue that needed my loving and self respecting attention.
Boom! Fuck off bastards