Lately I’ve become very aware of my Inner Critic: that critical inner voice that tends to judge and demean. I was surprised to find many articles, books and cartoons devoted to this topic on the Internet. I thought it was just me. But no, it seems to be universal.
Basically it’s that inner voice that says, “I’m not enough,” or “I did that wrong,” Or “I coulda, woulda, shoulda” done something better. Or “Who do you think you are? ”Don’t do that! You might embarrass yourself.” Or “Don’t try that; it’s too risky.”
You’d think as a student of Science of Mind I’d be past this, but it crops up.
I’ve been working with a vocal coach, and from the very beginning when he suggested I add singing as well as speaking to our sessions, I said: “I can’t sing. Never have, never will.”
But it turns out, I can sing. He tells me to still my Inner Critic and sing – in a rather high range, up to B flat, which is apparently good. I say apparently because my voice still doesn’t sound very strong to me, and I’m not taking it out into the world. But it’s coming along.
As part of this singing adventure I’ve discovered a whole new world of music . I’ve been watching Mario Lanza movies, which I enjoyed as a teenager, and learned that he inspired a whole generation of opera singers through his films.
There are all sorts of videos on Youtube with well known singers performing some of the songs I’m learning. So I can sing along with the likes of Rene Fleming and give my Inner Critic a chance to say, “Really?”
There are apparently several types of Inner Critics…not just the perfectionist, which is the one I’m most familiar with. “There’s no way I can do this perfectly; so why bother?”
There’s also the taskmaster, the inner controller, the underminer, and guilt tripper, among others. So what’s the best way to deal with this inner judge or gremlin? Either ignore and dismiss it, or befriend and transform it. Maybe the Inner Critic is trying to protect us…say, from making a fool of ourselves or to protect us from being hurt or humiliated.
My recent Sunday talk was videotaped, and I had the opportunity to see myself in action. Of course the Inner Critic immediately started dissecting what was wrong. I was looking at my script too often, I looked old and jowly, etc. etc.
But then I thought, “Maybe I can’t do a talk in the style of Rev. Michael Beckwith with absolutely no notes, as seen on Youtube, but I could practice more until I’m more spontaneous. That would take work, but can be done. As for the extra chin, either get plastic surgery or just accept it. Or, transform it into a positive!”
How would that work?
I’d like to be a model for my book project, Become a Senior Dynamo. Expand Your Dynamic Range and Live Large in Your Golden Years,. Perhaps I could simply demonstrate that we may have gray hair and some sags and bags, unlike those rock stars of aging like Jane Fonda or Helen Mirren, but we’re still dynamos of energy, creativity, productivity and good health. We can still expand our dynamic range and live large in our golden years. That’s an example of transforming the Inner Critic into a helpful ally.
Unless we somehow harness our Inner Critic, we can be stuck. Instead of moving ahead on projects or achieving goals, whether it be writing a book, losing weight, or starting a business, we can get stuck in procrastination or addictive behaviors. We might overeat, watch too much TV or just go from one distraction to another.
So what can we do? Awareness is the first step. Become aware when the Inner Critic pops up, saying, “You’re not enough.” Listen for the hidden beliefs behind the self-talk and challenge them. “Wait! Am I really not enough? That’s not really true. I am worthy, strong, smart and capable. I am enough. I can do this.“
We can develop and activate an Inner Champion to replace the Inner Critic, and create our best life now.
As students of Science of Mind, we know we can nourish our soul with the positive and chase out the negatives by affirming: “As I change my thinking, I change my life.”
And so it is.
Do you want to hear more positive messages like this? Reverend Elizabeth is just one of the ministers who presides at the Center for Spiritual Living in Granada Hills. Come and join us for a Sunday or Wednesday service to hear more!
Photo courtesy of Marsh Engle