It is part of the human experience to interact with criticism, either from those we come into contact with or internal criticism. TS Elliott once stated that criticism is as inevitable as breathing. Many of us have a strong inner critic; in fact, we typically have more than one.
If you have been criticized a lot in life, your inner critic might very well be echoing the comments you received in the past.
This criticism can quickly begin to rule your inner world and cause you to get swept up in a whirlwind of harsh messages and consequent hatred for that part of yourself as you become enmeshed with the bad feelings.
What might be different if you could see yourself through the lens of a compassionate friend? This person understands your history and has endless love for you. This type of lens, the lens of compassion, can decrease the inner critics’ voice.
We have all heard that old biblical expression of loving thy neighbor as thyself, and we forget the “thyself” part as if self-compassion is in opposition to loving thy neighbor.
The introduction of self-compassion can seem so woo-woo, trivial, and even selfish upon implementation. Recognizing that this response is part of the cycle that fuels your inner critic becomes very important. The journey towards self-compassion is a long and windy road for this express reason.
It isn’t simply achieved through a pat on the back or offering yourself a “good job, buddy” because we believe we need the inner critic’s messages to continue to achieve, strive, belong, which actually are an attempt to ensure we don’t activate pain.
The inner critic is attempting to maintain safety and security, which can be very difficult to see.
Understand that the introduction of compassion does not erase criticism; criticism isn’t the ticket; it’s the way we interact with it, use it, and allow it to reinforce beliefs about ourselves.
This is the pattern that we want to begin to address through the use of self-compassion; to create space and realize our agency in deciding how we structure our lives based upon these critiques. Remember, the critic part is not bad; it is not evil. It is simply utilizing distorted means of preventing you from experiencing internal pain.