Controlling Your Inner Critic

You know those books that stick with you (even if you haven’t read all of them)?  They’re a rare find.  This week I was reminded of a book that really made an impact back when I started reading it (and practicing the exercises).  It’s called “Beautiful You:  A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance” by Rosie Molinary.  If you’re like me, and you struggle with putting yourself down on occasion or you just find that you second-guess yourself frequently, this is a great book & I highly recommend you pick up a copy!



Unlike Other Books

I’ve had this book for awhile.  And I’ve never read the whole thing.  I’m sure you’re wondering: how the heck are you recommending it if you haven’t read it all?  Well, it’s (in my opinion) not something you read cover to cover.  In fact, the first section after the introduction is about “How To Use This Book.”  You can either use it similar to how you would a devotional book (for those people who grew up in religious households, this will make sense) where you read a passage everyday at the same time (and then ideally do the recommended action).  Using that method, I likely would have finished it a long time ago.  Or, you can approach it how I did and select specific topics that pique your interest and focus on those.  Which is why I haven’t finished the book.  But, also why I find myself digging it back out during times of change or stress.

There are number of different exercises in “Beautiful You” that I’ve found a lot of value in practicing.  The one I was reminded of most recently was the “Name Your Inner Critic” exercise.  It’s the 7th exercise out of 365 exercises (early on in the process of self-acceptance).  What does Molinary have you do?  Well, she has you give an actual name (not your name) to the critic in your head.  The one that tells us we aren’t enough, the one that says we suck, the one that makes us believe we deserve to be put in our place.  Why does she have you do this?  Well, it certainly isn’t to forcibly create a multiple personality disorder ?!  No, the idea is that you focus on the fact that you (at your core) shouldn’t be contributing to negative lines of thinking that impact how you feel about yourself.

And that’s just a couple of exercises out of over 300 that you can read & work on toward self acceptance.

Who’s your “Inner Critic?”

Molinary recommends that after you’ve named your inner critic, you consider the most common or most impactful insults you tell yourself regularly and pay attention to when they happen.  Then, you can tell your inner critic to shut up!

So who is mine?  Well, I named her Wendy.  Why?  During my very first interaction with a vendor (at my first job), I had to talk to a fairly hostile woman named Wendy.  She was unpleasant & rude.  She questioned everything I told her and because I was new, and I didn’t always answer what she asked with a lot of confidence because I was still learning.  She was supposed to help me.  Instead, she called me stupid & told me she wanted to talk to someone who knew what they were doing.  And that rattled me a lot.  As it turned out, all the answers I’d provided to her were accurate and she’d been a problem for a number of different people on my team.  But I didn’t know that at the time.  I just felt awful about myself and I questioned if I was really capable at all or if I’d duped this company into hiring me or even if my boss was going to fire me once he found out about it (nope – he was upset when he heard about it, and not at me).  But I’d built up this entire story in my head about how I wasn’t worthy, how I was stupid, and how everyone was going to see me for the fraud I was and my “career” would be over within the first year of graduating from college.  No one would ever consider me for a job again.  Wow, just remembering that line of thought is exhausting.  And the idea of Wendy still makes me mad.  So, my inner critic’s name is Wendy.  And when she starts telling me things like “You can’t even manage dinner, how the hell did you think you could manage people?” (when it’s taking me over 45 minutes to wash & cut up vegetables because the damn sprayer for the vegetable cleaner is broken and I can’t find a way to fix it), maybe it’s time for Wendy to shut the hell up!

So, who is your inner critic?  What are their common insults?  And how might naming them (again, not your name ?) help you separate truth from fiction & focus on the true value you bring, not the fiction that happens when you allow yourself to plummet into a downward spiral of self doubt?

Share in the comments!  I’d love to know if you’ve done something similar to this exercise before (and how it worked) or if you’re just trying it for the first time.
Wishing you an ALL+SUM LIFE,
– Sarah

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