How to stop being ashamed of yourself and start living. Your Inner Critic: Learning to Manage Yourself

How to stop being ashamed of yourself and start living. Your Inner Critic: Learning to Manage Yourself
How to stop being ashamed of yourself and start living. Your Inner Critic: Learning to Manage Yourself

"You're not good enough." "You can't do it." “You are the worst of all” - sometimes we don’t think about who utters these offensive and unfair words inside of us. Where does the inner critic come from, how to manage it, is it useful, psychologist and coach Yulia Burlakova will help you figure it out.

How to stop being ashamed of yourself and start living. Your Inner Critic: Learning to Manage Yourself
How to stop being ashamed of yourself and start living. Your Inner Critic: Learning to Manage Yourself

three in the boat, not counting the dog

Eric Berne, an American psychiatrist, the founder of transactional analysis and the author of popular books on psychology (the most famous of them is "Games People Play"), believes that the personality of each person consists of different subpersonalities: in particular, they are Parent, Child and Adult. It is these subpersonalities that are responsible for our reaction to various events. So, the Parent (sometimes called the Critic) is responsible for the attitudes and behavior learned in childhood, he is evaluating, edifying, judging, loves to point out mistakes - and it is this figure that most often acts as a critic. A child is just a priceless subpersonality: creative, emotional without restraints and sometimes a very, very infantile manifestation of you. An adult - rationality and organization, a sound and objective approach to decision-making. He is responsible for ensuring that all parts of the personality work together.

The more peacefully your subpersonalities coexist together, the more harmonious personality you become: you feel quite happy, calm and satisfied with life.

In practice, this company often comes into conflict with each other, competes and does not act too well. For example, the Child is "naughty" in those situations when the Adult should have come on the scene - and made a decision reasonably and calmly. And, on the contrary, in those moments when the Child could help you with his unbridled energy and fantasy, the Critic-Parent pushes him back. And it just so happened that the Critic most often complicates our lives.

skeleton in the closet, we all come from childhood

The usual "where did you go ?!" - this, quite possibly, is a cry of care and love, but the child perceives it as a warning about danger, as a message that his mother does not approve of him, which means that he does not love him, because he “got somewhere”. Growing up, we learn this catastrophic scenario - "don't go there, don't do it, everything will be very bad" - and in adulthood we continue to think to ourselves: "Where did I go if I want to earn more, I want close and warm relationships, I want be happy. I have no right to do that.”

You are already an adult woman, but you often catch yourself not believing when your boss praises you (he probably does this so that you work better), when your husband admires you (he just got used to you and generally very kind), when a friend asks for your embroidery as a gift (there is nothing special about it, and she praises just out of politeness).

External grades, remembered from childhood, turned into an internal prohibition to do what you want, believe in yourself and love yourself without conditions.

To fix this and feel inner freedom, it is important to cultivate a truly adult position in relation to life and yourself, to really realize that you control your reality first of all.

my ruddy critic, fat-bellied mocker

It is very difficult to separate Criticism from ourselves, we are used to him, because he has been with us for a long time. Someone's insistent voice sounds inside us, which carefully evaluates actions, dissuades from decisions, analyzes our actions, expresses disapproval. It can sound like: "You should be better", "Why didn't you do it differently?", "What's wrong with you at all?" The well developed, beefy Critic does not allow us to accept compliments or believe that we are loved just because we deserve something.

And the Critic also gives us the illusion of control over our shortcomings, a way to cope with unpleasant emotions - fear, shame, uncertainty. Unfortunately, this type of connection does not increase motivation, but rather causes anxiety and shame - at the level of physiology!

To move forward - it is important to understand what he wants to say and learn how to manage it - for your own benefit and understanding the value of the information offered. Needless to say, we are always incredibly far from his expectations.

Knowing that the Critic exists is the first step to managing him. So what is he like?

  • He is sharp, sometimes rude. We would never speak in that tone to those we love.
  • He is characterized by black and white thinking, there are only "excellent" or "terrible", without shades.
  • He pretends to be the voice of reason: very often his arguments sound like "this is right", "this is effective", "this is rational". In fact, these words speak of fear, hypercontrol and lack of freedom.
  • He often and inappropriately says that you are not yet ready for something, have not reached a certain level to get something: not experienced enough for this job, not yet thin enough to look good in this dress, not too good for a new relationship.
  • Your Inner Critic often warns you against activities associated with masculine traits: "Women don't understand math" or "You still don't understand how the engine works."
  • External perfection is incredibly important for him, which is objectively impossible to match. The body and face must be perfect (you can focus on models from glossy magazines), and the fight against the signs of aging must be constant and relentless.
  • His voice plays in the background like a radio in the room: you are not always aware of these thoughts, but they are almost always with you.
  • He is a "distorting mirror": the incidents that happened to you, he likes to remember again and again - but with different variations and always unflattering for you.
  • He is persistent. Even if we understand that his words are not true, we depend on him.
  • He fixates avidly on your past failures, he is always on the side of those who were once critical of you.

Meet your Adult

Your Inner Child has enough useful qualities: it is euphoric, cheerful, open, trusting, thirsty for knowledge. But it is impossible to live only on the basis of a child's position, infantilism interferes with making decisions and making choices. Your Inner Child needs your Adult to take responsibility for what is happening, to support the Child at its best, and to restrain unsafe impulses. The key task is to grow in yourself that same Adult who will manage the Critic - for the benefit of your entire personality.

Yulia Burlakova offers a simple example: “You went to bed late the night before, in the morning, without getting enough sleep, go out into the kitchen, put coffee on. A second - and your coffee ran away! The stove is dirty, the coffee will have to be brewed again… What would be your first reaction? Surely many of us will say to ourselves something like: "Durynda you are armless, again cook everything again …"

Here he is, our Critic Parent, took the stage! What important thing can an Adult tell him? First, support is needed for the Child who is traumatized by the Critic. Say to yourself: “My dear, you didn’t get enough sleep,” because the task of the Adult is to pamper the Child. The next step is the education of the Critic. Let the Adult tell him: “You have no right to lash out and insult me, coffee that has run away is not a reason for insults!”

And another very important thing your "adult" part can do for you is to help change the situation, to make life more balanced. “You are tired,” the Adult will say, “this is a reason to think about the regimen, maybe you should go to bed earlier, or do exercises first in the morning, or, in the end, get yourself a coffee machine that doesn’t require attention - let her make coffee herself”.

In general, our task is to raise such an Inner Adult who will be kind to the Child and steward in relation to the Critic. But he needs job descriptions - come up with them! There are many ways to do this - you can visualize it with drawings or collages, endow it with the qualities that we would like it to have.

This is the usual practical work - the same as learning a foreign language: after all, if we did not manage to learn English well at school, we go to courses or look for a tutor, we study diligently. Nobody will do the work of creating your Adult for you, you are simply re-creating that foundation if it was not created in childhood.

How to understand that your Adult has grown up and can protect you from the Critic? Check with yourself several times a day: ask yourself - am I speaking and acting from an adult position or from a Child's position? I scream that no one loves me, or I worry terribly about finances, but do nothing to help myself - this is an infantile position. Everything inside me shrinks when my mother-in-law calls or my boss writes - this is a childish reaction.

During the day, reach out to your Inner Adult, asking how mature is this position? Adult response? Gradually, you will notice that the voice that sounds inside you becomes not scared or annoyed, that new, “adult” traits appear - responsibility, stability, emotional balance.

How to appease criticism

  1. Turn on the "translation function" of the Critic's words and change his wording. When we beat ourselves up for something, we tend to greatly exaggerate what happened: a small mistake is blown up into a typhoon of failures with the help of the Critic. Next time, before you start berating yourself, try to reformulate the problem and thereby narrow it down to real size. If you didn’t perform well at a work meeting, instead of the usual: “Tomorrow I will be fired,” say to yourself: “I chose the wrong words when making a report. I know how I'll put it next time." And instead of: “I can never do this,” say to yourself: “Now I will not do this, because I have reasons for this.” Realizing the real size of the problem will help you feel more confident.
  2. Try to be neutral. Do not get carried away with self-flagellation, but also do not deviate in a positive direction too artificially. Get straight to the facts: Instead of "I've gotten monstrously fat," say to yourself, "I weigh 72 kilograms. It would be nice to lose 5 kilograms, and I know what it takes for this.” The more directions for further action you see, the less reason the Critic will have to shame you.
  3. Ask yourself if everything is really that bad. For example, at a meeting with a client, you mixed up the name of the main customer and are now ready to fall through the ground. Let's be honest with ourselves: First, anyone can make this mistake. Secondly, most colleagues hardly noticed her, carried away by the conversation (or social networks in their smartphones). In general, everything is not so terrible, if you think about it.
  4. Ask yourself: How would my husband or best friend react to this? This is a quick way to end an unpleasant conversation with the Critic: after all, the real person who treats you well and whose opinion you trust would be much more careful with the wording! And vice versa: think about whether you could say such words (and in such a tone) to your husband or girlfriend? Chances are you would have chosen much milder expressions.
  5. Give your Inner Critic a name. And as stupid as possible! For example, call him "Fighting Old Man" or "Gloomy Dwarf." This will help you not to take his words too seriously, add frivolity to your relationship and thus reduce anxiety. As required!
  6. Give a name to the Inner Critic's rants. You can call this inner speech “Olga stories,” for example, or “my radio.” The task is to stop perceiving these words as true feedback, an objective assessment of what is happening, to separate them from yourself.
  7. Share with someone. Self dissatisfaction or "shameful" incidents will gnaw at you more if you keep them a secret. Do the opposite - call your friend and say: "Now I will tell you something terrible, and you, please, sympathize with me, because I am dying of shame." We guarantee you will both be laughing by the end of the story.
  8. Accept your flaws. Perfectionism, being too strict with yourself, the highest standards that you have created for yourself - all this can be very destructive. Give yourself a “credit of trust”, allow yourself to be not perfect, make mistakes, behave stupidly and inconsistently. Empathize with yourself - the way you would sympathize with a close and dear person.
  9. Don't ignore the critic's voice. If you leave it without attention and friendly supervision, it can lead to all sorts of troubles: ignoring important needs, making the wrong choice in important matters, being satisfied with the idea of "it's good enough for me" - instead of striving for what is really important and necessary for you. Turn to this difficult part of yourself, take pity on it, get to know it better. In the face of love and acceptance, the Inner Critic will be tamed.

All good

“The statements of the internal Critic controlled by the Adult can and should be used to your advantage,” Yulia Burlakova is sure. - The positive meaning of its existence is a signal that perhaps it is time for you to change something in your life. You can't ignore it or aim to "kill" it - it's very harmful to declare crusades against a part of yourself. Our psyche is wise - we need all the components of personality.

But the better you educate your Critic, the more useful "employee" of your inner "team" he will become: scrupulous, pedantic, erudite, slightly boring, possessing information. He is ready to foresee possible dangers and inform you about them in advance before they arrive.

And a well-mannered Critic will be able to guard our personal boundaries! Ideally, he becomes the one who helps us say “no”, who firmly and politely, and if necessary, aggressively informs others that they are doing something that does not suit you, violate your space.

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