As you step forward to claim your life, to pursue your most thrilling dreams, to honor the longings of your heart, it is likely that a kind of inner alarm will go off. You may start feeling anxious, scared, or dejected. Your head may be filled with compelling arguments of why your dream can never be, why you aren’t qualified or adequate, or why circumstances make fulfillment impossible.
Congratulations! You are human. ALL of us have a self-sabotaging inner voice that holds us back.
This voice is called, by various thinkers and spiritual traditions, the ego, the saboteur, inertia, limiting beliefs, or the monkey mind. I call it the inner critic.
Identifying and recognizing the Inner Critic when it is present is more than half the battle in mitigating its effects. Here are some questions to write about to help you do that.
1. What does your Inner Critic say? About your body, your abilities? What does it say about the world, or other people?
2. What does its voice sound like? Does it echo the voice of anyone in your life now or in the past?
3. What are some of your Inner Critic’s most frequently voiced beliefs?
4. What kinds of situations seem to wake up your Inner Critic?
5. Give your Inner Critic a character — an animal, figure from a book or movie, whatever makes sense to you. Describe this character.
6. What’s your Inner Critic like? Anxious? People-pleasing? Sneaky? Pick five words that describe it.
Start making it a practice to notice your Inner Critic as you move through your life. Tell some supportive friends about your Inner Critic so they too can call it out when he or she shows up in conversation.