I have always felt like I am totally overwhelmed with things to do, but I’m still not doing enough. This feeling is especially intense since I became a mother. We all have an inner voice, sometimes we call it inner critic.
But if we go under the criticism, we can often find fear. Fear from not being good enough, and not being loved. I have always had a very strong wish for improvement in my life. But does fear help anybody improve? Does our inner critic help you be more loving and calmer? Does it help your children feel more secure and loved?
Our children have fears too. If we have got a strong inner critic and react to our kids from fear, we can’t practice empathy towards them and can’t make good parenting decision.
When we got overwhelmed with our never-ending to-do lists, we can’t find any time for self-care. In this case our minds and bodies are drained of energy and inner critic can arise. It is very important to embrace our inner critic and transform it to our inner voice which is encouraging us and become our calm leader.
What Is the Inner Critic?
The inner critic is an internal monologue of all the things we messed up. This negative inner critic persuades us that we are not worthy enough to be successful.
This negative self-talk is like a negative inner friend who tells you all the time everything is wrong with you. It stops you to be the best version of yourself.
Where can our inner critic come from?
- things you were criticised in your childhood
- your unreasonable expectations (if you are perfectionist, that is very frequent)
- the way your parents treat themselves (if your mother often judged herself for not doing enough, you might do the same thing)
- stressful or traumatic events
- other people’s opinion in your life (our family members, friends often give us advice even when not asked in connection with breastfeeding, co-sleeping and different childcare issues)
- society in general (we can read numerous articles in parenting suggesting the right way in different childcare problems)
- comparison to other parents (there is myriad of “perfect parents” to whom we persistently compare ourselves)
Why do women have bigger inner critic?
In her book, Playing Big, Tara Mohr tries to give answer to this question. According to Tara, in the patriarchal culture, following our callings and dreams puts us all in a vulnerable place bringing painful criticism or rejection. We can see this especially in online media when we read violent, often vulgar comments made about prominent women. “Our own safety instinct seeks to protect us from the external criticism by spewing cruel self-criticisms.” Certain part of us wants to avoid the emotional risk.
What is the problem with your inner critic?
- It could tell you things that are not true
- It is often an exaggeration – “you are always impatient with your kids”
- You can see things in a black and white way – you might think you are a bad mum or a good mum, you can’t see that you make mistakes, but you do many things in a right way
- You might make extreme judgements – “you are so lazy, you don’t tidy up after your kids all the time”
Inner critic causes feeling of guilt, worthless and self-doubt. It could lead to self-esteem problems and anxiety. You talk to negatively to yourself and look for evidence to back them up.
Misbeliefs about inner critic
You might think that you need your inner critic because it helps you improve and become better and better. But self-criticism can stop you to try new things and is very stressful, so it is unmanageable. The inner critic is not realistic. A realistic thinker in us always wants to move forward and find solutions and stay calm. The critic always uses the worst-case scenario.
How can you handle your inner critic?
Drop your negative thought. Try to notice if you talk negatively to yourself. When you notice it, just drop it, and take deep breath.
Reassure yourself. When you hear that negative voice in your head, find a mantra that comforts you: “It isn’t urgent… I can handle it.” That will soothe the fear that’s grasping you, so your inner voice eases.
Transform your negative thoughts into something more encouraging. “I’m doing my best…This is good enough for now.”
Take time to connect to yourself and discover your own desires and needs as individuals (you are the expert on what grounds and connects you to yourself and your background)
Remind yourself that all mothers make mistakes and are imperfect. (It is good for your kids to see you make a mistake and ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself.)
Respond to your mistakes with authenticity and compassion (in this way you can model a positive, compassionate self-talk for your kids too)
Share your inner critical thoughts (helps you understand that you are not alone and release the shame you felt for years)
Set realistic boundaries and expectations for yourself. (Try to be realistic with your time and energy, set expectations that you can achieve, don’t deal with what other people think)
Share your thoughts below
What does your inner critic tell you most often? How do you handle negative self-talk?