Facing That Inner Critic: It Is All About Stepping Out From Behind The Bushes
This post is a continuation of last week’s post on What Type of Self Critic Are You? Thus, it may be helpful for you to read that post first (however, not entirely necessary).
Let’s face it, we ALL HAVE FEARS about being judged by others. Even the most highly confident person’s energy will plummet when they read or hear a negative comment about themselves. It is not surprising therefore that public speaking is ranked as one of the most feared experiences. We all want to get to a place where our resilience and boundaries are strong when it comes to the negativity and our low mood is brief. We should feel the hurt, but it should be acute, not chronic.
I believe that overt critics, a type of self-critic I described in my previous newsletter, easily sink into this hurt like quicksand. They fall hard and it typically lasts too long. They are in low energy for hours, days, and in the worst case, most of their lives. This low energy is all too familiar to them, and thus, it can feel comforting, or at least familiar, for them to be in this space. Overt critics are generally the ones who constantly ‘wait for the other shoe to drop’ in every situation …they are pessimistic and noticeably lack joy in their lives.
On the other hand, the covert critic is terrified of accepting any criticism into their psyche. They resist it the same way they would resist jumping into an ice bath, even within the dialogue with their selves. They can foresee the pain it would cause them and thus avoid it; yet, at the same time, they secretly know it would take away a lot of the noise that courses through their mind – the noise in their head that constantly screams at them ‘you must be perfect’. These people pride themselves on being tough, resilient to pain, optimistic, independent, strong, and forward thinkers. For more explanation of this type, again, please jump to last week’s post.
So how do self-critics of any type go to a place to where they can love themselves, become authentic and experience more joy in their lives? They do it by facing their fears. The more you step into fear and less away from it, you will love yourself and experience true joy.
I know, to read this seems incredibly ridiculous. Think of all those aspects of yourself that you are afraid other people might see. What would people say if you displayed your whole self: who you want to be, the things you want to do, the things you actually want to say? What would it feel like to have that whole self out in the open rather than hiding behind the bushes like you have done your entire lifetime.
Here’s a thought experiment: what if, after working at a job for 20 years, you realize that you want a different career and you were worried about how your spouse might react? ? But what if you didn’t care what your spouse said and INSTEAD followed what your heart told you to do?
I can think of many other examples of ways that people hide their true selves. What if you felt confusion surrounding your sexuality but were terrified to admit it? What if you purged some older friendships that you knew weren’t serving you any longer and instead sought out friendships that aligned to your authentic self? What if you started to dress in a way that was more to your liking, rather than to follow a certain trend or preference by a partner? What if you decided that a long-term intimate relationship wasn’t serving you anymore (and never did support your authentic self) and it was time to leave? What if you decided to travel to (or even live in) the place where you could be more of yourself?
“It is MORE than okay to want more out of life. Afterall, you only have one life to live.”
What if? What if? What if?
Do you see yourself daydreaming as you go to that imaginary place? What if I told you it doesn’t need to be imaginary and it can be your reality? Do I see a smile on your face? Yeah, me too.
This post may sound like it should be written as a script to the next Walt Disney animated film, but it doesn’t have to be. In a child’s mind this is all possible. A child is not guarded nor fearful unless fear was instilled into them. A child has no filter, only dreams. I am asking you to reflect on what your dream is, the one that it scares you to admit out loud, to do some deep reflection and dreaming and ask yourself: what do I really, really want? (Let the Spice Girls’ hit song be your own personal anthem). This doesn’t have to be a place of imagination.
As I’ve mentioned before, it all starts with slowing your thoughts, getting rid of the noise, and allowing yourself to do the deep reflection. You can do this through meditation, or with a therapist, a partner that listens and not judges, or just you and your journal. One would think it would be obvious as to what you want, but often it is not. Personally, I think that it is not so easy because we have been ingrained from childhood to ‘be satisfied’ with what you have.
From a young age we are taught ‘to be grateful for what you have’. Even I, as a therapist, proclaim this in my room. However, is this place of gratitude allowing you to be joyful MOST of the time? OR are you just placating to the situation you feel you have no choice but to be in – that you have settled with – that you are merely content with?
Maybe you want more than this – and if you do that is okay. It is MORE than okay to want more out of life. Afterall, you only have one life to live.
I want you to accept who you are, what you need, and then go after it. That might take you to a scary place, a place you want to resist entering – a place in which you have used distraction to avoid. Distraction normally comes with a lot of noise – noise in your head. Once you get rid of that noise you will realize much more easily what you really really want. I encourage you to sit in silence and let your mind wander to that place. Feel the feeling that comes with that place and let that energy remain with you throughout the day.
If what I have written here doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I would encourage you to listen to Episode #14 of my podcast. The woman I interviewed in this episode explains it all with more feeling than I can do in a written post. I love, love, love her energy and she is a true testament to what it takes to overcome the noise.
To accept yourself is how you move out of self-criticism, whether you are a covert or overt critic. When you are afraid of showing people who you are, you stay hiding behind bushes. Instead, be a kid. Jump out from behind the bushes and start playing and being your true authentic and flawed self. Not only will you experience the energy of a two-year old, but you will smile like one.
Need help getting to this place? Stick with me because I intend on creating programs specifically for women who are reaching middle age and realizing they want more. I will teach you how to get there.