How To Become Best Friends With Your Inner Critic – 7 Eye Opening Tactics
by Michael Feeley
WERE YOU EVER BULLIED?
Picked on mercilessly by someone?
You live in fear and misery all the time.
You feel worthless and nothing matters but getting through another day without pain.
No one stands up for you, not even you.
And that’s where the real pain comes from.
You take the insults because you don’t think you’re worth it. You don’t see your value or believe in your meaning.
You agree with the bully.
I hope you’ve never been bullied, but I’m making a point.
Every one of us has a inner voice – A gremlin that hurts us. Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls it Resistance and it’s as cruel as a real bully who taunts and pokes at you, knocks you down and says – ‘Hey Cry Baby! You’ll never succeed. You don’t have what it takes.’
It’s *Gremlin Talk*. Insidious chatter that lets you think you’re not good enough as a writer, student, partner, athlete, entrepreneur… whatever.
[Enter Linda Ronstadt singing – ‘You’re No Good, You’re No Good… Baby You’re No Good’.]
Being aware is the first step to fighting back. You must listen carefully to what this thug says to you.
The purpose of your inner voice is to undervalue, underestimate and undermine you.
Bullies like having power. They create fear and self-doubt trying to stop you from being who you truly are and succeeding at what you hope to achieve in your life.
It’s your job to be fearless.
2. Now it’s personal
Routing out Gremlins is one of my favorite things to do as a Life & Career Coach.
We all judge and limit ourselves with thoughts and words – ‘I can’t do that… I’ll never be able to… that’s not me… everyone else is so much more creative, popular…’
Coaching questions your limiting beliefs and what you use against yourself — low self-esteem, lack of confidence in your abilities and knowledge, worried what other people think about you.
Pretty quickly, the concept of your inner critic comes up in coaching. Clients understand and thrive working on it. It frees them. It gives them courage and purpose to change.
Inner critics are called: Ego – Gremlin – Lizard Brain – Heckler – Shadow – Resister – Cynic.
Whatever his or her disguise, you can call it out and face it.
Get personal with your Heckler. Name it. The more real he or she becomes the less control it has over you.
- One client calls his Gremlin ‘The Afternoon Voice.’ Reflecting on a time in his life where he wasn’t tops in his college studies and was assigned afternoon classes. What he saw as a humiliation.
- Another – ‘Little Me’ because her inner voice tries to make her feel small and insignificant.
- My Heckler is ‘Val’ – named after the rogue and cruel troublemaker who looks to ruin people’s lives,
Valmont from Dangerous Liaisons. Val is quick to tell me my writing is way out on a limb and something no one gets.
3. Let’s get physical
Call your bully out in the open. Give it form and substance.
Try this — Hang up a ‘Wanted Poster.’
’Wanted Dead or Alive – Little Me – 3 feet tall, 45 lbs., Long, dark hair all over.
Known to prey on the weakness of women. Last seen in the mind of…’
I’m having fun, and I want you to have fun too as you create an image and give your inner voice tangible life.
Find a picture on the internet that stands for your Gremlin. Print and hang it where you can see it.
One client posted a bright, pink snake on her refrigerator and called him, ’Destruction.’
I’ve seen people paint portraits of their Gremlins. Wear a piece of jewelry that stands for it.
One of my colleagues built a doll out of shells and called her ‘Shelia.’
She wrote this to me describing her inner voice and the form it took:
I used to be a person who avoided risk. I lived in my head where it was safe… Shelia wished to protect me from the perceived “dangers” life may impose… inside of her shell were stickers that illustrated the exact opposite of what she was “about”… Faith, Openness, Value, Relationships, Freedom, Strength, Optimism – everything that Shelia was protecting me from… Shelia was not just my Gremlin, she was (and is) symbolic of all the fruit that’s inside of me – the beauty that my Ego worked hard to shield me from. Shelia teaches me about CHOICE and how life can be when we choose to live outside of the shell.
Have your inner critic walk the floor. Take that monster and tame it. You’re in control.
That voice is a tiny part of who you really are. It’s not your whole SELF. Not the essence of you. Not your world value.
It’s a fake.
You created it and exploit it. You use it not to be happy, not to be successful, not to be glorious and
shine all over the universe.
4. Why don’t you stalk it for a change?
Study what brings your Heckler out. When does it appear and why?
When you know the specific reason for Gremlin Talk – be it stress, making decisions, learning something new, changing your life, heading into success – then you’re prepared. You can kick that bully to the curb when he shows up. Push him around and chase him down the street.
Keep a Gremlin Diary. List the facts. Collect and examine the evidence. Record it:
– When does it/he/she show up?
– What does it say?
– What happens when you confront it, send it away or just sit with it?
Study and learn about your inner voice because knowledge and understanding are what it fears most.
When you challenge your Gremlin, you challenge your self to be strong and confident by confronting your inner fears.
You’ll move forward out of doubt, anxiety, blame and even self-pity when you do this.
Taking responsibility for your life, actions and thoughts increase your self-worth. Respect grows and the nagging, petty
*fear buttons* your bully pushes regularly, don’t work well any more.
5. Notorious models
People have created Gremlins that we like and identify with. Here are a few to think about:
– Shakespeare’s Three Witches… who offer warnings and dark prophecies at the opening of Macbeth.
– The creature Caliban in The Tempest. What Prospero calls, ‘This thing of darkness…’
– Sirens on the Rocks. Mythical beings; seducing sailors with their songs and ruining their lives.
– Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein… the creation of a ‘monster.’
– Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson… One man with two different personalities.
– The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde… Dorian’s actions disfigure his portrait but he remains beautiful.
– The great heroine – Scarlett O’Hara from, Gone with the Wind – Beautiful, selfish, scheming, rebellious.
– Erika Kane from the soap opera, All My Children. A powerful, controlling archetype.
Each character came from the mind of a person. It has a name, a shape and meaning that says specific things about good and evil, strength and weakness, hope and fear in the world and yourself.
What can you learn about your inner critic from them?
6. What does a gremlin fear?
Here’s Lou Tice’s personal Gremlin Diary – the facts and evidence for his inner critic:
I am fear.
I am the menace that lurks in the paths of life, never visible to the eye but sharply felt in the heart.
I am the father of despair, the brother of procrastination, the enemy of progress, the tool of tyranny.
Born of ignorance and nursed on misguided thought, I have darkened more hopes, stifled more ambitions, shattered more ideals and prevented more accomplishments than history could record.
Like the changing chameleon, I assume many disguises.
I masquerade as caution.
I am sometimes known as doubt or worry.
But whatever I’m called, I am still fear, the obstacle of achievement.
I know no master but one; its name is Understanding.
I have no power but what the human mind gives me and
I vanish completely when the light of Understanding reveals the facts as they really are,
For I am really nothing.
7. Why not make friends with your bully?
We each have our own personal demon who aims to screw things up.
Why not make him your friend? Don’t kill or annihilate your inner critic. Embrace him.
The incredibly hopeful miracle in all this is that you are in control. You’re in charge of your life, happiness, and success. You hold your destiny in your mind and heart, and you have the power to change your Gremlin into your promoter,
your prophet, benefactor, or muse.
Assign him a new job. Give him a big promotion and surprise him by asking for his help.
A good critic of anything (theater, music, art) is a teacher. They present what’s good and what could be better.
See your inner critic like that. Whatever he says, listen. And if there’s an ounce of truth in it, take it and learn.
It’s your job, intense and brutal as it may be, to break through your own fears, to change, and go after living your dreams.
It’s beautiful and necessary work to discover the truth about yourself, even your shortcomings, faults, or weaknesses, and then live your life with greatness, honesty, and unconditional love.
Never let anyone, least of all yourself, make less of who you are!
We have Gremlins in us, and we also have a higher inner voice, a higher self that stands for justice, respect, and personal integrity. These are the things that nullify fear and small debilitating, fake opinions of ourselves. Learn to understand and trust yourself, your instincts, and intuition. That’s where your happiness and greatness lie.
Calling out your Gremlin means calling to the best things in yourself.
What are you waiting for?
Buddy up with your bully.
Thanks – Michael