My Inner Critic is a Savage, Yours Probably is Too – E&OC

inner critic
mercury retrograde
inner critic

My Inner Critic is a Savage, Yours Probably is Too

What a week! Hello, Mercury Retrograde you absolute bastard. Haha. I actually enjoy Mercury Retrograde and the madness that it is. I have found fantastic opportunities to grow and heal and better myself. Also, it’s much easier to blame breakdowns on Retrograde.

Option 1

“How ya going?”

“Ah, you know, Mercury’s in Retrograde.”

“Yeah, I feel ya.”

Option 2

“How ya going?”

“Well. If you have a minute. I analysed and over thought an interaction I had last week for about three days. Anxiety crushed me about it, so I got flu-like symptoms, but I didn’t have the flu, just anxiety. Then I got sad for a few days because it shouldn’t be happening. Anyway! It turned out to be a simple miscommunication, and my Inner Critic was like um, no, you need to stress about this for the next week because you’re an awful person.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. How are you?”

“Oh, you know.”

Option 1 is much easier 99% of the time. Personally, I need to be with the person to communicate deeply. I feel like communicating via text or by phone leaves so much room for misunderstanding. Talking in person is something I enjoy, it feels better to me to hug or touch hands in comfort after. You can’t get that with technology conversations.

Also, during Retrograde, technology does all sorts of things. I haven’t had internet for a few days now and what a struggle that is. This Mercury Retrograde I can say has been a blessing and a curse. There have been many moments of reflection, realisations and tower moments that I’m not quite prepared to deal with.

However, one realisation, I am prepared to deal with. That is the revelation of my Inner Critic and how awful I am to myself.

GoodTherapy.org says an Inner Critic “refers to an inner voice that judges, criticises, or demeans a person whether or not the self-criticism is objectively justified. A highly active Inner Critic can take a toll on one’s emotional well being and self-esteem.”

My Inner Critic is highly active. Or was. Actually, I’m working on it. I think that it is normal for people to be critical of themselves. Helpful, even. But for me, the overactive Inner Critic has manifested into fear. I’m afraid to make mistakes, to upset people, to express myself. I don’t want my words or actions to hurt anyone, so I don’t say anything to protect myself and protect them.

Ironically, I hurt myself anyway because I have all these repressed emotions. Afraid to make mistakes? How am I supposed to grow? Afraid to express myself? How many more blockages am I going to have to work through?

This realisation came because I overthought an interaction. I worried myself so much that I had hurt the other party’s feelings that I created scenarios in my mind so far-fetched I have better chances of marrying a perfect stranger. In that worry and chaos of my mind, I neglected my body. Because I couldn’t regulate my emotions, so stressed and panicked by the Inner Critic telling me I had made a mistake, I had to take two days to rest my body was so exhausted from my mind.

My Inner Critic comes from my childhood wounds. It is a survival instinct. Making mistakes or upsetting someone often led to an argument or being put in the spotlight and having an anxiety attack. Being critical of myself would prevent future mistakes, which would ensure survival.

But this is trauma response thinking. And that is what I realised this Mercury Retrograde.

The past week I have spent most of my time challenging my Inner Critic thinking. My Inner Critic has screamed in agony – how dare I!

I want to share some examples:

1.

Inner Critic – “You should not have asked them about their day because now they are going to have to feel bad about having a bad day.”

Challenging – “I have no control over their bad day. I asked about their day out of genuine concern. I am here to help them if they need. I am allowed to ask questions.”

2.

Inner Critic – “You should have already known what the problem was. Because you didn’t know they had to talk about it and now they are upset.”

Challenging – “I have no way of knowing what the problem is until they tell me. It is not my responsibility to guess what the problem is. I can only help with the information I am given, and it is up to them to share the information with me.”

3.

Inner Critic – “If you were a better friend they wouldn’t be struggling right now.”

Challenging – “I am not responsible for other people’s lives. I can only be the main character in my life. By trying to be the leading star in other peoples’ lives, I rob them of their own opportunity to do so.”

4.

Inner Critic – “You are worthless because you can’t finish this task.”

Challenging – “The task I am trying to complete is actually a project and will require hundreds of hours. It is impossible to complete hundreds of hours of work in one day, which comprises twenty-four hours.”

5.

Inner Critic – “Making mistakes makes you a bad person.”

Challenging – “Making mistakes just makes me a person. I don’t have any bad intentions in anything I do. Therefore, I am just a person who sometimes makes mistakes. I am allowed to make mistakes. I am allowed to apologise and to grow from them too.”

So, in summary, my past week has been exhausting. My Inner Critic is a complete savage. But, my healing and higher self are savage with self-compassion, which my Inner Critic cannot handle. Even though I am mentally and emotionally tired, I can push through and keep challenging my Inner Critic. As long as I do so, I will get better.

From this TedTalk article about how to stand up to your Inner Critic, the author states “Both of these voices have a role to play. Our inner nurturer brings self-compassion and encouragement, while the Inner Critic helps you recognise where you’ve gone wrong and what you need to do to set things right.”

In my challenging examples, I am just encouraging my inner-nurturer. I’m also enjoying talking to myself with such kindness.

I want to finish this week with my favourite example:

Inner Critic – “You made a mistake.”

Challenging – “So what?”

Tea of the day – T2, Just Ginger

Stay safe, be kind, and feel free to reach out below!

With love and eternal optimism,

J.R. Sonder

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