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  • Writer's pictureEve da Silva Msc, PgDip


Self-criticism – it’s the thing that we think keeps us motivated, keeps us on top of our game and ensures we meet our own standards. The inner critic is a powerful part of our inner world but too often the critic becomes a bully and we are left feeling depleted and like we can never be good enough. What’s the alternative? The evidence shows the alternative is self-compassion. Compassion is the ability to acknowledge the pain and the motivation to something to alleviate it. Compassion gives you the ability to pursue your goals, to handle the difficult days and ultimately make peace with the inner critic.

We can find it difficult to make peace with the inner critic when we are under the most stress. This isn't random. This is because in a lot of ways, the inner critic represents a way we, within our family and social context, have been taught to handle stress. If we can keep ourselves in line we can stay in control.

In her popular self-help programme, Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way teaches a creative approach to working with the inner critic. Cameron suggests that you visualise your inner critic. Take a moment to write down some key characteristics about the inner critic. How they might look, how they might sound perhaps even assign them characteristics of a fictional character. Cameron describes that her inner critic as being haughty, uncompromising and extremely picky. The technique Cameron suggests can be a helpful way to detach slightly from the inner critic. Another method you may want to try is translating your inner critic to a certain colour, piece of music or other creative method to symbolise the critic.

In Compassion Focussed Therapy there is a similar exercise developed especially to support you to visualise and connect with your inner compassionate coach. If the inner critic is dominant you may find it difficult to even begin to connect with your wise, compassionate self. With this in mind, you can work through visualisations and prompts to access this part of yourself. If this sounds intriguing you can find out more in this self-help pack filled with CFT techniques.

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