We all have some sort of inner critic – a Judge Johnny or Janie that lives within. It is an aspect of personality that helps us be civilized but we need to keep it within boundaries. When the inner critic gets unruly, it judges too harshly, condemning us to a life of poverty, lack, and limitation.
The critic’s voice whispers sweet negatives to us when our guard is down. This is the voice that keeps us from speaking out because we might make a mistake. This is the voice of constriction, of hopelessness, of fear and cowardice.
Here’s an example….Maisie dresses for a party in her red skirt, pink blouse and she wears a real carnation in her hair. As she looks in the mirror, her inner judge whispers, “You’re too old to wear flowers and you’re too fat to wear bright colors.” So Maisie obediently takes off her first choice and wears that tired old navy dress. At the party, she lingers a dark corner and Prince Charming goes home with a plump girl in a purple skirt – the one with the big smile who laughs.
Another example…. Horace is a fine fellow with a great job, a big, fancy, car, and plenty of money. His problem is that he’s lonely. Then he meets a really nice woman and Horace likes her a lot but every time he starts to pop the question, his inner judge hits him over the head with fear. The judge spits out a long monolog that includes be careful, she’s after your money. Why would a good woman want you?
Horace and Groucho Marx must have the same inner critic because it was Groucho who said, “ I wouldn’t want to join a country club that would take me for a member”.
Certainly, we need judgment to keep us from possible danger and to stay safe. We also need it to help us make appropriate decisions. We rely on our inner critic to tell us we should not wear our mink to feed the homeless. But we don’t need much more from it. We certainly don’t need to hear it spew criticism all day long.
If you are like most people, there is a good chance you will benefit from opening up the briefcase of your inner judge and ruling some opinions out of order. Your judge probably holds some nasty beliefs that sting and burn just like the nonsense in Pandora’s box.
Look and listen for stuff like, “You shouldn’t laugh so loudly.” “You’re too tall.” “You’re too short.” “You’re too old.” “You’re lazy.” “You should be working.” “You’re too serious.” “You’re not serious enough.” “You should try harder.” “You hang on too long.” “You’ll never be able to catch up.” “You did something so wrong, it will never be right.” “You should be braver.” “You should be ashamed.” “You should start exercising.” “You should stop eating.” “You’re no good.” “You’ll always be poor.” “No one loves you.” “You’ll never amount to much.” “You are worthless.” “You’re unloved and unwanted.” “Nobody will help you.” “You don’t deserve much.”
The list is endless and each person’s list is personal. Rather than analyzing why we are the way we are or pitting one person’s list of coulda’ shoulda’ woulda’ against another person’s, I offer three tips for controlling your critical voice.
Rule one – don’t get sidetracked into analyzing the contents of the briefcase. It was Clint Eastwood who said, “We should forge on and expect the sun to shine”. That’s good advice so just forge ahead.
Rule two – don’t get attached to your story, or your suffering, or keep any of those pesty opinions for pets. Let them go freely. It is not denial to move on.
I realize this requires a major change for many of us. If we are not going to analyze our problems, what in the world shall we talk about? If Maisie and Mable have lunch and Maisie doesn’t want to feel bad about herself, she won’t order the baked potato with butter and sour cream and then confess she’s too fat. She’ll just eat the potato and have a good time.Or she’ll skip the potato and have a good time.
Then if Mable doesn’t get to complain about her husband, what will they talk about? How about world peace? Science of Mind? Their accomplishments? Favorite movies? New books? When we stop focusing on what’s wrong and start noticing what a big, wonderful world we live in, our lives will change.
Sometimes we hang onto opinions about ourselves that aren’t working just because we hate to admit we are wrong. Everyone changes all the time. You don’t have to admit you are wrong, you can just rescue yourself and move on.
Take Horace and his girlfriend, for instance. If Horace stops being attached to his story and decides to take a risk on marriage he’ll be moving on. He’ll also be making new decisions and living in the present instead of being paralyzed in fear. He’ll also have many more chances to deal with his lack of trust.
If he’s not attached to fear, and his wife wants money for new curtains he will just say yes or no. He won’t be thrown into a panic and think she’s trying to take him to the cleaners for everything he’s got. He’ll still have to make decisions and use his judgment but he won’t be frozen in fear. Horace gets to be born again on a daily basis.
Rule three Use Love to deal with your inner critic. This is the most important thing to do. You can use love to bring everything into perfect right order. Love yourself into health and happiness. If you look in the mirror and your judge whispers, “You look awful today.” Smile at your reflection in the mirror and said, “God loves you and so do I. Have a great day, Beautiful.”
When that judge whispers, “You didn’t get your work done today, you’re a lazy good for nothing.” Say out loud, “I took the day off and it was fun. I deserve a good life.” If your inner critic says no one loves you, tell yourself God loves you and you love yourself. Say, “I am love.” Say it until you mean it.
You can even love your judge in time. Spray the inner critic with love and watch it shrink. Next time the judge tells you that purple is not your best color, say, “Thank you for sharing. I hear your concern. But just for today, purple is my best color.” In other words, treat that inner judge the way you would treat someone you love but have no intention of letting run your life. Acknowledge and move on. It’s an old trick but it works.
What am I telling myself that works for me?
What would I like to stop saying to myself?
How do I plan to do that?