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When Your Inner Critic Attacks

Imagine this: You start the week off feeling great; You're motivated to get up early and get in a work out before you begin checking things off of your To-Do list. Your business is gaining momentum and you have better understanding on how to help it grow. When things don't go as planned, you know how to problem solve without feeling discouraged. You're doing your best to keep up on housework, and don't judge yourself for what's left undone. Food isn't the enemy and you eat to nourish your body and stop when you feel content. You notice that when someone you love doesn't agree with you on an issue, you're able to stay level-headed and give them space for their viewpoint.


And then you wake up on Friday morning and you hate, yourself, your business, your body, your wardrobe & just about everything else in your life. You can't remember why (or how!) you felt so good just a few days ago.


This is what my recent Inner Critic Attack looked like.


I have decades of experience with this part of me that shames every move I make. But during the last 3 years I have done a lot of work to break the pattern of self-loathing, and I have felt a huge difference.


But that doesn't mean the Inner Critic is gone.



Looking back on the most recent struggle with my Inner Critic, I could actually see how the pressure was building; I just wasn't in tune with it in the moment.


I had been stressed about some unfinished things, but pretended it didn't bother me. I hadn't been sleeping well, but felt compelled to "push through". And criticism had been festering about myself and those that I live with.


I actually hadn't been taking care of me like I thought I was. I had been resisting my discomfort instead of allowing it to be there and learning from it. I had been ignoring the messages my emotions were trying to communicate to me.


Another interesting observation: During that week, the attention and energy that is important to give to processing emotions, I had instead been giving to my Inner Critic.


While I 100% support the approach of turning toward the voice of your Inner Critic to heal the fear that she (or he) is protecting your from, I have learned that if you spend too much time there, it can be overwhelming to the nervous system.


Your nervous system gets overwhelmed, or dysregulated, when it experiences actual or perceived danger. Our brains are wired to protect us from perceived threats and can't tell the difference between actual or detected danger.


This served our primitive ancestors, whose world held many actual dangerous. Our brains have evolved since then, and we aren't exposed to nearly as many threats, but the primitive brain still functions that same way; meaning our nervous system can fall into dysregulation without experiencing real danger. So worry and anxiety are common reactions for a nervous system that doesn't have tools for regulation.


An Inner Critic attack is actually the brains misguided way of protecting you. The truth is distorted and the mean voice cuts you down in order to keep you from taking risks that could be potentially dangerous or lead to failure. Being "kicked out of the tribe" would mean death.


Using awareness of what is actually going on is the first step to processing an emotion. Name the emotion, identify the places you feel that emotion in your body and place your hands there as a token of self-support. Allow what you're feeling without self-judgment. No emotion is wrong or needs solving.


If you're experiencing an Inner Critic attack, use awareness to pause that voice and ask it why it is there, ask what it is trying to protect you from. Then express gratitude for the protection it has been at work to create for you. Notice how the feelings in your body might lighten or shift as your Inner Critic is allowed to be heard and appreciated.


You cannot feel a sense of Wholeness if you are rejecting parts of yourself. This requires learning how to be accepting of your imperfections and mistakes, and separating those from the lies your Inner Critic tells you. In my opinion, It is the most important kind of work you can do.


Xo,

Meredith




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