Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Twelve Traits of the Inner Critic

As you may have guessed from a recent post, I am reading Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal and Sidra Stone. In the back of the book, they list twelve traits of the Inner Critic that I found interesting.

This is why I'm doing everything I can to get the Critic under control.
1. It constricts your ability to be creative.
2. It stops you from taking risks because it makes you fear failure.
3. It views your life as a series of mistakes waiting to happen.
4. It undermines your courage to change.
5. It compares you unfavorably with others and makes you feel "less than."
6. It is terrified of being shamed and so monitors all your behavior to avoid this.
7. It causes you to suffer from low self-esteem, and possibly depression, because it tells you that you are not good enough.
8. It can make looking at yourself in a mirror or shopping for clothes miserable because of its ability to create such a negative view of the body.
9. It can take all the fun out of life with its criticisms.
10. It makes self-improvment a compulsive chore because it bases the work on the premise that something is wrong with you.
11. It doesn't allow you to take in the good feelings that other people have toward you.
12. It makes you susceptible, and often victim, to the judgments of other people.
I don't suffer from all of these things, but several on the list apply to my life.

In the first chapter, the authors describe the Inner Critic this way:
The Inner Critic is remarkable in a number of different ways. It seems to operate with heightened awareness in all areas. It can see, hear, and feel what is wrong with us as though it had the most advanced technology at its disposal. It has the intelligence of a genius, an uncanny intuition, and ability to analyze our feelings and motivations, a sweeping gaze that notices the tiniest of details, and, in general, an unerring ability to see and magnify all our faults and shortcomings. It seems to be a lot more intelligent and perceptive than we ordinary mortals are.
The really bad part of all this is that there is NOTHING we can do to make the Inner Critic happy. We can never do enough to please it or change enough to make it feel safe. In it's eyes, we will always be flawed, and it will always need to be on guard to prevent us from making fools of ourselves.

I am speaking in the "we" voice here because everyone has an Inner Critic to a greater or lesser degree. Those of us who have a dominant Critic suffer the most at its hands.

As I read the book, I'll post any bits of wisdom or insight that I come across.

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