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Conversation With an Inner Critic

Aug 18, 2007
Have you ever noticed that when you take on a new goal, that little voice in your head will immediately kick in and start telling you all the reasons why you can't have what you want? Whether it's finding a new course to take, losing those last 10 pounds, improving the quality of your relationship or getting out of debt, the Inner Critic that lives within each of us really seems to turn up the volume.

To shed some light on this universal phenomenon, I've been able to interview my Inner Critic. I hope this conversation will shed some light on how you can create a better working partnership with your Inner Critic.

Carolyn Ellis (CE): It seems like I've always heard your voice in one form or another. When exactly did you become a part of my life?

Inner Critic: I've been a part of you since the time you were born. When you were really young, you were so fearless! Young children are like that. So my initial function was to put some kind of a check on you so you wouldn't be too reckless and possibly hurt yourself.

CE: Well, that's interesting. So you mean that you started off being concerned about my safety?
Inner Critic: Yes -- absolutely! You may find it hard to believe, but I think my biggest responsibility is to look out for you and keep you safe from harm.

CE: I think I'm old enough now to know when I'm in physical danger. Why are you still here then -- simply to torment me?

Inner Critic: I'm not trying to torment you -- I'm just doing my job the best way I know how. Actually, I've given myself a job promotion, so to speak. I've expanded the range of things I'll comment on to any potential danger I see on the horizon. So that includes any perceived emotional or social damage too. I like to offer a comprehensive range of services.

CE: What are some of your favorite critical dialogues?

Inner Critic: I find the "who do you think you are" or "what will other people think of you?" or "You can't do it, you'll just fail" to be among my most effective comments. This is true of my fellow Inner Critics who live in other people, although everyone has their own unique Inner Critic retort that can stop a person in their tracks. The main purpose of my dialogue is to stop you from taking on a new action or behavior and make you pause.

CE: Why is it some people seem to be paralyzed by their Inner Critic and others aren't?

Inner Critic: Everyone has an inner critic and can hear it. It's been estimated that humans self-talk about 45,000-50,000 thoughts every single day. I'm proud to say that a lot of that self-talk is from me! In fact, I'm talking most of the time. The vast majority of people don't even stop to question what I'm telling them and so they let me stop them from what they really want. Those who stay in action simply choose to not take everything I say as the absolute irrefutable truth. They hear what I have to say, weigh it against what would be achieved by reaching their goal. They just move forward despite the fear or self-doubt that I help to cultivate. Oops, I should not have let that secret out!

CE: So what you're saying is that we all have a choice as to whether we'll be able to listen to you or not?

Inner Critic: Actually, you don't have much choice as to whether you'll listen. The key point is whether you let what you hear me say stop you or not.

CE: What are some of the key ways that you and I can co-exist together more peacefully then? If we're stuck with each other, how can I learn to not get side-tracked by you?

Inner Critic: To tell you the truth, I actually would like to have a better relationship with you. Sometimes I feel your wrath and it's like you want to kill me off. So I end up yelling at you even louder. This gets tiring even for me! Here's what I would suggest:

1. Just listen to me -- trying to ignore me doesn't really work. Becoming aware of what I'm saying actually calms me down.

2. Know that everyone has an Inner Critic that speaks negatively you to you, so you can choose to not take everything so personally.

3. Consider what I have to say and then make your own decision. Let what I have to tell you be just one factor in making a commitment to moving forward towards your goals. I don't like getting blamed all the time for why people don't get what they want in their life!

4. If you notice I'm getting particularly loud or persistent, it could simply be that you're overlooking something important. Pause and take a look to see what that is.

CE: Thank you so much -- it's actually been a relief getting to know you better!

Inner Critic: Same here! Thank you for being curious instead of condemning of me.

I appreciate it!
About the Author
Carolyn B. Ellis, author, spiritual divorce coach and founder of Thrive After Divorce Inc. If you want simple life-changing tips for single parenting, visit Thrive After Divorce now to receive a FREE report.
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