Getting in touch with the inner critic
The Inner Critic Voice
We all have voices that echo inside our heads – some are helpful, and some are not. That hurtful voice is sometimes called the “inner critic” (Elliott, 1992), “impostor syndrome,” or “saboteur perspective.”
The negative thoughts that characterize self-critic can become problematic when we believe these thoughts to be true. In these cases, the judging voice of the self-critic strongly influences our feelings and actions. A powerful way to reduce the effect of self-critical thoughts is by observing them. Rather than being fully identified with negative, self-critical thoughts and believing them to be true, observation involves the ability to stand back and witness them. This ability has been referred to as “reperceiving” (Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, & Freedman, 2006), “decentering” (Safran & Segal, 1990), and cognitive defusion (Hayes, 2011). This reflection was designed to take an observational stance and consider our inner critic from an outsider’s perspective.
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The inner critic is a perspective we have of ourselves that can be potentially limiting when we over-rely on them. For example, achieving results and completing tasks is important; however, when our self-image is wrapped up in our achievements vs. who we are, it may become potentially limiting.
In the same way, being prepared is a good thing; however, when the ups and downs in life keep us in a constant state of frustration, good planning and perfection may limit our ability to be resilient during the many unexpected events that happen daily.
In this exercise, select any of the following categories of the inner critic or saboteur perspective that may show up.
Inner Critic – Ruminating or Worrying
The inner critic, also known as the saboteur perspective or impostor syndrome, also shows up in two broad categories.
- Ruminating over the past and 2nd guessing decisions
- Excessively worrying about the future and things to come
In this reflection, consider the circumstances when the inner critic shows up.