Your Inner Critic is a Danger to Yourself AND Others
When you are aware of your inner critic and able to engage self-empathy and become centered, you get much needed relief and you are also a benefit to others. You are more pleasant to be around and you are better able to express kindness and consideration to others.
Inner critics are thieves. They rob you of emotional resiliency, energy, and mindfulness. The longer you ignore an inner critic the more likelihood there is that judgment and defensiveness will define the quality of your interaction with others. Because of this, taking time to skillfully focus on your internal experience isn't selfish or self-indulging, it's simply your responsibility as a person who holds the intention to live from wisdom and compassion.
Specifically in relationship to others, it seems that inner critics are made of velcro. Any characteristic or behavior of another that you are criticizing yourself about sticks to them. Before you know it, you find yourself saying something vaguely or obviously critical of another. Then it gets worse. If you think yourself to be a mindful compassionate person (which your critic has some standard for), you move into shame around what you said.
Now your critic really has ammunition. At this stage you can become paralyzed by self-criticism and shame, an excruciating state to be in and not one from which you can be helpful to others.
While you may not be able to stop this cycle on a dime, you can step out of it at any time. For even a moment, you can take a conscious full breath, sit still, close your eyes, and express compassion and acceptance. For me it sounds something like this: "I feel shame and hear my inner critic. Part of me believes the critical voices. This is painful and I can tolerate this, it's okay. This is a pattern running itself, it's not who I am. It's an experience passing through, I don't have to fight it. I am committed to relating to it with kindness and acceptance."
As you approach the holidays and are likely to have time away from the stable and nourishing routines you have created for yourself, and be in a mix of family dynamics, it's especially important to plan for self-reflection and centering time.
Take a moment now to reflect on your plans for the next three weeks. Choose a specific way you will make time for yourself in a regular way. At the end of this post, I offer several links to other articles that outline specific steps in self-empathy and in relating to your inner critic. If you don't already, have a structure for self-reflection time choose one from these articles to practice.http://www.wiseheartpdx.org/post/759
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