Every waking moment we talk to ourselves about the things we experience. Our self-talk, the thoughts we communicate to ourselves, in turn control the way we feel and act.” John Lembo

>How have you been talking to yourself today? Has it been loving and kind or critical and harsh. We all have an inner dialogue that is going on throughout the day. The tone and content of this dialogue will determine how you feel. If it is loving and supportive, you will feel peaceful and happy; if it is judging and unkind, you will feel anxious and down.

If you feel you are unaware of how you are talking to yourself- there are certain exercises you can do to begin to bring this inner dialogue to the surface so you can begin to work with it more consciously. Once you make this dialogue “visible,” you will then know “No wonder I feel so anxious” or “No wonder I feel so depressed”. This is the first step to making profound changes that will tremendously impact your life.

Sometimes people are walking around with an inner part of them being incredibly critical and hard on themselves — picking at themselves for every little thing. This criticalness and pressure is very draining and will put a lid on their joy and freedom of expressing who they truly are. Sometimes this is modeled after a parent that was very critical with them and sometimes it is something that they developed on their own. Either way, the good news is that they can transform this inner dialogue to one that is more loving and supportive.

One of the methods of shifting this dynamic is to understand the function of the criticalness. If you can, think of the part of you that is critical and understand that it has some good reasons for being critical–it actually is trying to help you. The logic it has for “helping” you is somewhat distorted, but it makes sense to this part of you. The more you understand the “why” than you can work with it more consciously.

If you know you have a critical part of you, dialogue with it in writing. Ask it, “Why are you being so critical? How are you trying to help me?” Once you get the answer you can respond to this part of you and find a way to address the things it is trying to help you with in a way other than the criticalness. Here is an example:

Audre was so excited that she was making so much progress in developing her business. She had a big vision for what she wanted to do in the world and she was actively manifesting her vision. The more progress she made, the stronger and more vicious her critical voice began to get, saying things like, “You don’t know what you are doing; you don’t have the talent to do this!” “Who do you think you are? Do you think you are better than everyone else?” and “You are going to fall flat on your face. You may as well give up right now”.

This voice surprised her because she had moved forward so much because she had worked hard to develop a supportive inner voice and now her critic was bigger than it had ever been. This was confusing to her and when she listened to her critic, she became very disheartened and depressed. She knew that there must be a good reason this part of her was so strong now–and she felt it may be connected to how much progress she had made. She dialogued with this part of her, asking why it was so critical of her and how it was trying to help her.

This critical part of her said back, “I’m afraid that you will be hurt as you have more success,” “I’m afraid others will judge you,” “I’m afraid you will fail and this will disappoint you,” “I’m trying to hold you back and keep you safe from all of these things; I don’t want you to get hurt”. As Audre heard the concerns of her critic she felt compassion for this voice inside of her that was trying to protect her. She realized it was just a part of her that was very afraid.

She was able to talk back to the inner critic and say this, “Thank you for your concern and care for me. I need to let you know that I can take care of myself as I succeed. If others judge me, I will not take it personally and understand it is their own hurt parts doing that, and has nothing to do with us. Also there is no way that we can fail. The success is that we are following our dreams. We have the courage to do this. We may have obstacles and setbacks at times, but we will keep going and that in of itself is a success.”

By saying these words to her critic, her whole body relaxed and she was able to move forward without that critical voice floating around in her head. Every now and then she would hear it again, but she would do the same process and listen to and reassure this part of herself. By doing this she was able to continue to move forward in leaps and bounds without her inner critic–out of fear–trying to put the brakes on her.

Open up to learning from your inner critic: How is it trying to “help” you? Just asking this question alone-can help you understand the deeper reasons for the criticalness-and allow you to address these concerns more directly. When you address these concerns directly-you then can let go of the critical voice all together!

Shelley Riutta MSE, LPC is a pioneer in the Holistic Psychotherapy field. She specializes in Transformational individual counseling, Presentations and Workshops. For her free Workbook “What Do You REALLY Want: Finding Purpose and Passion” and free monthly tele-classes visit her web-site at http://www.RadiantLifeCounseling.com

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