Do you spur on your inner critic, hoping that if you can just be harder on yourself, you can liberate yourself from your pain and inhabit your life more fully?
Or do you try to stifle, ignore, or exile your inner critic, believing that the key to happiness is to just think positively and overpower or deny your doubts and judgments?
If you regularly use one or both of these strategies, how are they working for you? Are you genuinely fulfilled? Has your critic really gone away? Or are you feeling frustrated and discouraged, wondering why you’re trying so hard and still not getting the results you’re wanting?
Are you curious what it’d be like to transform your inner critic into your own soft place to land?
Imagine what your life would be like if you were a reliable source of compassion, warmth, and support for yourself. Which areas of your life would begin to blossom and thrive? How would your relationships with others be sweetened and strengthened?
Your inner critic is actually tragically misunderstood. Rather than a harsh taskmaster or a ill-intending enemy, your inner critic is actually a precious and vulnerable part of you who is trying to alert you to distress. Your critic is hurling a bunch of judgments your way, desperately hoping that their words will inspire you to do something differently, not understanding that there’s a more nourishing, inspiring, and effective way to motivate you.
Your critical self may actually be a younger, vulnerable part of you who latched onto harshness as the only available strategy for self-protection and self-advocacy. While we’re culturally encouraged to dispose of inconvenient or vulnerable parts of ourselves, this kind of self-banishment is ultimately (and thankfully) impossible—and simply does more harm in the attempts. Instead, as an adult with more inner and outer resources, you can empathize with and begin to understand the underlying needs of your inner critic, which quiets the judgment and slowly transforms your inner critic into your inner supporter.
These wounded, critical parts of you are actually the keepers of your tenderness, your creativity, your capacity to hope and dream, and tending to them is the path to healing and self-actualization. Healing your wounded critic with deep empathy and compassion builds a powerful internal landscape of self-trust, self-respect, and self-care, which is turn paves the path to the areas of your life previously out of reach.
Starting October 1, I’ll be offering a unique and supportive 8-week series in Berkeley, California, on Bringing Compassion to Your Inner Critic. Participants will be invited to choose one relationship, situation, or area of their life that’s calling for revitalization; by focusing on that living content for the duration of the workshop, each person will simultaneously and gently begin to transform their relationship with their inner critic and an area of their life that’s needing more support and care.
Learn more or contact me with questions. And if you’re wishing this class was available online as well as in person, drop me a line. Online Restorative Empathy classes are on deck for 2015, and now’s a great time to let me know which topics you’re most eager to explore.
With love and empathy,