Your Inner Critic: Friend or Foe? | TechWell

Your Inner Critic: Friend or Foe?

I suppose almost everyone has an inner critic. That's the little (and sometimes big) voice in your head that says things like, "That was a dumb thing to say" or "You'll never get that project done on time" or "Are you sure you want to eat that piece of chocolate cake?"

Knowing full well that I'm going to eat that piece of cake, I try to stifle dessert-avoiding messages from my inner critic. But other messages do manage to get through.

The question, though, is whether the inner critic is a good thing or a bad thing. Because it's the frontal lobe of our brains that's responsible for higher mental processes such as thinking, decision-making, and planning, it seems likely that that's where the inner critic has set up shop. Its intention, it seems, is to help us with just such important matters. So why are there so many articles on how to overcome or silence your inner critic?

I suppose the reason is that we tend not to hear our inner voices as offering helpful, caring feedback because those messages are often too loud, too pushy, or too negative. And they're often laced with "You should" or "You shouldn't" or "What's wrong with you, you idiot?"

Given that the inner critic is unlikely to go on sabbatical any time soon, the key may be not to suppress this pesky critic, but rather to learn to work with it. This would entail becoming aware of it, noticing situations in which it emerges, and catching it as it's emerging. You can then acknowledge the feelings your inner critic triggers, reflect on what it's trying to tell you, and take steps to take care of yourself—in effect turning a negative voice into a positive one.

Once you start thinking of your inner voice not as a brutal enemy, but as an overeager friend who clumsily criticizes you without regard for your feelings, you can harness its power to help you more effectively deal with tough or awkward situations. Then, when the voice shouts at you, you can simply say (preferably to yourself, if you're at work), "Hmmm, wonder what it's telling me and what I can do to deal with this situation."

By getting to know your inner critic, you can transform it into an inner champion. And who among us couldn't benefit by having a champion at the ready as we face the challenges that are bound to be thrown at us today?

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