The advice we hear most often in relation to our Inner Critic is “Silence it!”. But our inner critics have been on board a long time and it is easier said than done. Telling the inner critic to be quiet, well it is a little like ending a discussion with an argumentative child by telling them to shut up. They might be quiet for a while, but the energy of their argument will build during the silence, fuelled also by resentment because they weren’t heard, for the rebellion only to erupt some time later with even more force.
The inner critic is in place to keep our spirit small, in check. It is probably there as a reflection of someone else’s need at some point in our lives to do the same. Perhaps a parent, a carer, a sibling, a teacher, a friend. They criticised us, due to their own struggle, thinking that they could be greater by us being smaller. Or perhaps because our greatness, which they glimpsed, frightened them, left them wanting, or feeling that they could not control us. The more threatening the emergence of our full potential would have been to them, the stronger their criticism of it. And we internalised all this, because we held them in regard or love, believing what they said about us to be true. But the criticism was not about our spirit, it was about theirs.
So, instead of trying to silence your inner critic, hear it. That does not mean you believe it. Instead hear it and let it serve as a reminder of your greatness, and that once someone saw it first, before you did. The greater you were found wanting, the more magnificence they probably glimpsed. Meet the voice, not with scolding, but with self-compassion. Speak to the child in you who is still bewildered because they were not encouraged, praised, or understood. The child whose wings were clipped.
And for those who planted the seeds of your self doubt, meet them or their memory with compassion, for it was their lack of self-worth and self-love which caused them to be afraid of your greatness. Smile on them, and forgive them for it was just part of their struggle, although misguided, to be great.
And soon you will hear just the faintest whisper of your inner critic and smile, because your true voice will be stronger for having had it.