Have you ever tried to get centered? Maybe it was through prayer, meditation or yoga. Or maybe you were on a run. Or sitting in a coffee shop and you wanted to quiet things within so that you could align with your true desires or with your God. But you just couldn’t get rid of ‘that’ voice in your head that continues to criticize everything and anything. That’s the critical voice. It’s the voice within ourselves that tells us that we’re not good enough. It tells us that we’re not doing a good enough job. That we could be doing better, no matter how well we are actually doing. Sometimes the critical voice charges directly, shouting and screaming across the battlefield while pointing at us and calling us out. But other times it comes at us sideways while we feel safe in the comfort of our bed, surrounded by our pillows and duvet. In those moments it whispers, ever so softly, ‘you’re going to forget something important tomorrow. You aren’t prepared for that presentation. You’re going to be seen for who you are and she will know that you are a fraud. You shouldn’t have had that brownie. You always do that. You’re not worth being loved.’
When we boil it down, the critical voice is usually telling us that we aren’t enough in some form or fashion.
It gets strongest when we’ve made a choice to better an area of our life. When we finally decide we want to eat better or exercise more. It turns up the volume when we begin creating at a new level. When we start that new blog post or first put pen to paper for that book we’ve been talking about for the longest time. It’s most powerful immediately following a genuine revelation about ourselves. Its desire is to get us off track just as the engine has started to move the train. If you’ve ever launched a new business, taken a class, tried to break a bad habit, live with integrity, pursue your calling, help others, or take a stand for something more… you’ve heard the critical voice.
On many occasions, I’ve tried to grab the critical voice by the hair and smash it’s head into oblivion. I’ve tried shouting at the top of my lungs to drown out the incessant murmur. No matter how hard we try, we cannot slit the throat of the critical voice in a permanent fashion. It is relentless. But we can find respite. We can quiet that critical voice for a time. We may not be able to turn the voice off, but we can turn down the volume significantly.
The next time the critical voice shows up to distract and derail you, ask yourself this simple question. “What if I am already enough?” At first you may get a response telling you that isn’t true. But stay with the question. Let your imagination wander free. “What if I am enough? What would I do then? How would I move forward? What would I do next? What if I don’t have to earn my worth?” If you ask yourself this question and stay with it for five solid minutes, you will set your brain on a course of answering that question for a portion of your day. That’s how your brain works. You ask it a question and it will begin to try to answer it on a subconscious level. This simple exercise will create space within you to pursue those things that you know will cause you to grow.
The critical voice shows up because on some level we’re afraid of being uncomfortable. It’s positive intent is to protect us. To keep us from pain. And the pursuit of growth always requires a level of discomfort. That’s how growth works. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and causes us to expand our borders.
"The critical voices in our own heads are far more vicious than what we might hear from the outside. Our 'inside critics' have intimate knowledge of us and can zero in on our weakest spots." - Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy
"Your intuition knows what to do. The trick is getting your head to shut up so you can hear." - Louise Smith
"You've been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." - Louise Hay