In our everyday lives, we spend a great deal of time telling ourselves that we aren't good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or thin enough. Our minds tell us we don't deserve the things we want. Our desires will never come true; even if they do, they will disappoint us. It’s called the inner critic―that part of us that judges us, shames us, and makes us feel inadequate And it affects us in very powerful ways.
In this episode, Kim explains we get messages from our primary caregivers, society, and our community that tell us how we are supposed to operate in the world There’s invisible rules and expectations of how we are supposed to “do life.” In order to protect ourselves, our inner critic shows up to keep us in line. But the inner critic exaggerates and judges, and while it has our best interest at heart, it doesn’t help us or motivate us to change. Instead, it keeps us from being true to ourselves.
Kim walks you through 4 layers of self-talk, according to Jack Canfield, and how we can coach ourselves in a positive and more rewarding way.
What’s in the episode:
- The role of the inner critic
- How we are living in the emotional traps we grew up in
- How our beliefs shape our perceptions of how we show up in the world
- The 4 layers of self talk to overcome your inner critic
“When guilt and shame are used to control you, you become someone you're not. ”
- Kim Strobel
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Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and mission-minded person whose passion is helping others overcome their fears and discover their joy!
Kim Strobel 00:05
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's episode, we have been talking in the last couple of episodes a lot about how do we overcome our perfectionism? How do we practice more self compassion? How do we really allow ourselves to be just as we are without constantly struggling against ourselves? And so in the last episode, we really talked a lot about how perfectionism shows up in our lives, and how behind perfectionism is really shame. And behind shame, is the feeling of being criticized, feeling like you're not enough or that you're wrong. And so this is multi layered. And as we were ending the last episode, I wanted to go deeper with the inner critic so we can start to understand it. Now, the inner critic is that voice inside of yourself, that tells you everything that you're doing wrong, right? It's the one that when you wake up in the morning, and you look at yourself in the mirror, and you say, I'm so fat, or my body looks disgusting, or my hair is terrible, I'm never going to find somebody to love me, I'm not worth being attractive. The inner critic is the one that comes home after work and says, gosh, you you weren't enough today, you didn't handle this situation, right? You made this mistake over here, you lost your temper with this person, the inner critic is the one that continually kind of rears its ugly head. And it does this in a lot of different ways. But first, I want us to understand where our inner critic originates from, it actually comes from our early experiences with our primary caregivers. This could be our parents, it could be our daycare workers. It could also be our teachers, people that were around a lot of the time. And what happens is we internalize how these caregivers relate to themselves, but also how they perceive the world. And their voices and perceptions of us become our own voices, and how we relate to ourselves. And these primary caregivers, these important people in our lives growing up, have a very strong role in our lives. And because of that, it is difficult to create a sense of ourselves outside of what others believe us to be. And so what we do is we internalize our caregivers feelings, even the ones that they criticize themselves for. So for example, if you grew up with maybe a mother, who was constantly putting herself down, maybe she was constantly putting her body down, she you know, over and over again, she modeled this behavior. So then what happens is that that kind of, you know, seeps into our own psyches. And then we begin to hold ourselves to those same standards. We also get messages from society, you know, we could have, maybe you received a cruel message about your race, or your religion, your your sexual orientation, your size. And what happens is that when we get these messages, it kind of confirms the inner critics negative stance, and it makes it even
stronger. Now, what is at the core of our inner critic, is exactly what we've been talking about in the last two episodes. It's that feeling of not being good enough. And what we do is our inner critic, is constantly scanning, to find evidence, that substantiates our belief. So whatever you believe, right, and we, we've gone through this, your thoughts, create your beliefs about yourself. So whatever you're thinking about the most becomes an inherent belief that you have about yourself. And by the way, most of our beliefs, as you've heard me say, were formed between the ages of zero and six by our primary caregivers. And so the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, those become the actions and behaviors that We operate with in life. And what happens then, is, whenever we're having these feelings of not being good enough, we what that means is is that your inner critic is scanning, to find evidence that supports your belief. And belief is one of the driving factors in our life. Like, I always, when I'm when I'm talking, when I'm teaching, like my course on creating abundance in your life. If you're scanning the world all of the time, and you have a belief that everybody else can create abundance, but that you can't, then you are going to find a ton of evidence to support your belief. If you have a core belief that you're unlovable, you're going to scan your environment and find all the evidence that supports your belief of not being lovable. Because beliefs are housed in our subconscious minds. And our subconscious minds, create 95% of how we operate and show up in life. 95%. And so, whatever that belief is, right? That's where the inner critic will scan to find evidence that says, you know, what, yeah, look, you are worthless, you aren't enough. Look here, look here, and it starts to find all the evidence that it can find, so that it validates your belief. So, let's talk a little bit more about how this shows up in our life. You know, it just, it just amazes me, okay, I mean, I, my inner critic, I have dealt with her for years. And by the way, mine has a name, her name is Ethel. And I don't know if I was right in doing this or not, but Well, I think I was. So I created a visual representation of Ethel one time. And I chose a name that was like, nasty, you know, well, I'm sorry, if your name is Ethel, but I think that those are pretty terrible name. But I drew her and she has like snake like hair, right? Because she's constantly striking out at me, you know, she finds one little flaw or one little thing that I did wrong. And all the snakes on her hair on her head, just like start zapping me and, and striking me. She has like really angry orange eyes that are piercing where she's just like looking at me in that really judgmental way. She has like these really red, fiery lips, because she's always got an opinion, she's always got a judgment, she always has something to say to me. And so Etho is the she operates like in a very negative way. She says things like you know what? You You shouldn't perform like this, you, you didn't do this well enough, you're supposed to act a certain way. You're supposed to behave a certain way. So everyone will accept you. You're supposed to never be angry or never have a misstep, or always be the perfect mother and not lose your cool at times with your son. You know, like she can braid me. And she is fierce. And she says some of the nastiest things about me. And for a long time. I held a lot of negativity towards a thought. And I don't know that I'm wrong in this. But I would say things like, Shut your trap, Ethel. You know, I don't need to hear from you. Your opinion doesn't matter. Stay in your corner. I know who I am. And I think I think that was really helpful. But what I'm also trying to understand is that our inner critics are Ethel's actually are striking out at us, because they're trying to protect us. And the way the reason the inner critic kind of rears its ugly head is because it actually does want to create a sense of control. Right? And so what we do is we kind of hold ourselves to these really crazy high expectations. And then there's like this little voice inside our head, who's constantly measuring our every response to things to make sure that we don't do it wrong, that we don't go down the wrong side of the tracks. Because doing it wrong, feels dangerous to our psyche. And so our inner critic thinks, oh, wow, there's danger there. She better, you know, and so she's got to protect you in the way she protects you, or he protects you, is by getting really loud, and really scary. And it wants to motivate you to get back to safety. And so we all have this, like, this domestication that has happened since childhood that has said, This is how we operate. This is the right way of doing things. And when
you do things the right way, according to our domestication, right, how we were raised by our parents, our caregivers, the community, we live in what are considered social norms. Well, when you do things the right way, you get rewarded, even if this means that you have to learn to be someone that you're not. And this there was a great story in the mastery of self, which is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. And he explains that this domestication happens from the time we are really little. And someone else tries to control our behavior. And he says, imagine a child of eight or nine, having lunch with his grandmother who has prepared soup for the afternoon meal, they sit together and converse, enjoying each other's company. And the love they share. After finishing half his bowl of soup, the child realizes he is full. I don't want the rest, Grandma, I am full. And then grandma replies, You must eat all your soup. Now, whether you are a parent or not, it's pretty clear what this boy's grandma is trying to do. Right? Her intentions are admire trouble she wants him to eat, she wants him to be nourished. She doesn't want him coming back five minutes later to say he's hungry again. So when the little boy says no, I don't want any more, I'm full. What does she do, she tries to get him to eat more by offering him a reward for doing what she wants him to do. And this is how this is like the first way we get domesticated. And so then the grandma says you must finish your soup, it will make you grow up big and strong like Superman. Now I know some of you're laughing because you're you're either going, oh my gosh, this is exactly what my parent did. Or you're going, this is what I do to my own kid. And so she says, you know, she's, you're gonna be big and strong, you're gonna be like Superman. But this little boy is not going to be deterred. He's like, No, I am not hungry. I don't want to eat any more right now. Now, why do kids say no? Right? So it's so easy for us to be like every time I kid, don't you tell me no, right? You see people enter into that power struggle, especially if you grew up in my generation, like you were not allowed to look at your parents in any kind of negative way. And you certainly were not allowed to say no, but what we really need to understand is in this story, the child is just enjoying the feeling of inserting asserting himself, right? Like he it feels powerful to say no, it feels powerful to express his free will. And he can also feel powerful when he says yes to the things he wants, and it feels good to say it. And so this is how the way Don explains it's how young children including us, we learn about the power of intent by stating yes or no. And so eventually, the grandmother won't let up right? She keeps you know, she's threatening him half of the time with a negative consequence. She's trying to reward him with a positive consequence. If he eats, you know, just three more bites and you can have some ice cream or whatever it might be. And so finally, the boy, he just reaches his threshold he and he's when the carrot doesn't work, right? Right. She dangled the carrot like hey, you know, you can be Superman you can be stronger. Then she now she's ready. Didn't she reaches for the stick to impose her will upon him. Right. And so like many parents or grandparents before them, what she does is she crosses the line of respect for his choice and adds a punishment. And in this case, the punishment is guilt and shaming. Right, which is the second tool by the way of domestication. The first tool was offering a reward for allowing me to control you. The second is guilt and shaming when you won't let me control you and So the grandmother might say things like, and I'm laughing here because my dad used to say stuff like this. Do you know how many children don't have anything to eat around the world, they are starving. And here you are wasting your food, it's a sin to waste your food. Or like my dad used to say he used to say there are starving people in Ethiopia, and you're being ungrateful. Now you finish your food. And so now, now they're using guilt and shame to get the kid to do what they want, right? And he's concerned, he doesn't want to be a selfish person, he doesn't want to be a sinner in his grandmother's eyes. And so finally, he just relents, right? Okay, Grandma, I will finish my soup. And so then he begins to eat again, and he doesn't stop until the bowl is empty. And then grandma is happy. And with the tenderness that makes her grandfather son feel safe and loved, she says, That's my good boy. And so then the boy learns that by complying with the rules of life, right, that he can earn a reward. In this case, he is a good boy in the eyes of his grandmother, and he receives her love and encouragement, the
punishment would have been to be seen as a selfish child, a sinner, a bad boy. So like, this is just a simple example of how we become domesticated how we become controlled. And many times guilt, and shame and punishment are used as control mechanisms. And as we learned in the last episode, behind are not enoughness, behind our inner critic is always shame. And so look, our parents had the best intentions, when they used to do this to us, we have good intentions when we do this, right? We love our children, we want them to eat their, their food. But the problem is, is the method that she's using in this story to achieve that goal has some negative and attended consequences. Because anytime guilt and shame are used as tools to make you do something, this counters any good that has been achieved. And eventually those negative pieces will re surface in one way or another. So let's go back to the story in Dan's book where he says like, let's imagine now that this boy grows up. And the domestication that occurred around this issue growing up about eating all of your food is so strong, that it has like this hold on him, right? It has this power over him, that carries into adulthood. And so many years later, he goes into a restaurant where they serve a big plate of food and halfway through his meal, his body signals to him, I am full. And then either consciously or subconsciously, he hears a voice. It's a sin, to waste food. And then consciously or subconsciously, he answers, Yes, grandma, and continues to eat. Because finishing his plate, like a good boy, is what he learned growing up. And what he also has learned is to respond to how he was domesticated or controlled, rather than to his own needs of the moment. And so he goes against himself by continuing to eat after his body has already let him know he is full. Now, I'm telling you this and tying this to the inner critic, because the inner critic is trying to control you. But the inner critic is also trying to protect you. It is trying to keep you safe, so that you can live up to the ideas, the ideals that you have adopted from others, without even considering if those ideals are really what you want. So how do we start to deal with this inner critic in a way that lessens the voice? You're never going to get rid of the inner critic, but can we lessen its presence in our life? And can we see it for the exaggerated monster like person that it can be? Can we see it that it's just an exaggerated voice trying to protect us that needs to be tamed? And so the first thing we have to do is teach our inner critic to tell us the truth. Just like a parent right disciplines a child for their Good. Your inner critic, again really has your best interest in mind it, it wants you to get the benefit of the better behavior. But it doesn't always tell us the truth. So let me give you another scenario. Think about the parent who yells at their child for running out in the street. And they yell and SWAT him on the butt and send them to the room, and they're angry, and they're screaming, right? I'm so pissed at you for running into the street, you could have been run over now go to your room and think about what you did. So that's the first layer of self talk is anger. Now, what's behind that anger is actually fear, which is the second layer of self talk, right? Fear is, I'm afraid that you'll get hurt or killed. And so the fear is what ignites the anger. But what we're really wanting is the third layer of self talk, which is a request, I want you to pay more attention when you're playing near the street. Always look both ways to ensure your safety. And then the fourth layer is love. I love you so very much, and I don't ever want to lose you, I want you to be safe. And so when we're looking at these four layers of self talk, anger, and then really what's behind the anger is fear. And what's behind the fear is what we really want, which is a request. And the reason we have this request is because we love right love is that fourth layer. And so we express that anger. But like Jack Canfield says, There are three more layers of that message that never get delivered. You don't deliver the fear, I'm afraid because you'll get hurt or killed. You don't deliver the request, I want you to pay more attention when you're playing near the street, and you don't deliver the love. I love you so much. I never want to lose you, I want you to be safe, right? Those other three layers get lost. And this plays out in our own lives with our own inner critic, as well as when we're criticizing others in our life just like this kid we're criticizing. And so I want us to think about this in relation from your own inner critic. I want you to think about when your inner critic rears its ugly head. When it starts to judge you. You probably first go into anger, right? For me, I'm
thinking back to I'm a marathon runner, and I fail to complete my marathon. A couple of years ago, I actually had intense back pain at mile 13. And I made it to mile 18 and had to call my husband and I am not a quitter. Like I pushed through, I am not a quitter. And I had to quit, I had to stop. And what did I go into right away? When my inner critic reared its ugly head, right? I went into like complete anger. I'm so ticked off that I did not complete this marathon. I am such an idiot. I looked like a fool posting about all my marathon training for 18 weeks. And then I couldn't even get to mile 19 I don't you know, I didn't take my training seriously enough. And now I just wasted 16 Darn weeks of running because I'm not a good runner anymore. And I just berated myself. You're such a quitter, you're such a loser, I can't believe you couldn't push through. But behind my anger was that step to that that second layer of self talk, which was really fear. My fear was, I'm no longer a marathon runner. I can't perform anymore. I'm not as good as I used to be. You I probably won't even be able to compete in races anymore. Because I just don't have a good enough body to do it. Right. So behind my anger and my inner critic was just really fear. And then behind my fear was really what I needed to see was a request. Kim, take some time to recover. Because you had some injuries while you were training. Your back went out during the 16 weeks of training. Your dogs were pulling you as you were running with them. You went to multiple chiropractic appointments. Maybe you should start taking a little bit better care of yourself. Maybe you need to figure out a different way of running with your dogs. Maybe you need to go to the chiropractor. Maybe you need to find ain't a training program. And then step four, that you want to get to, when you're coaching yourself is love. I love you cam. And I want you to be able to do the things that bring you joy, like running and competing. I know you feel alive when you run, and you like pushing yourself and you like the sense of accomplishment that comes from your drive. And so when you're thinking about your inner critic, first I want you to become aware, and to just understand that it's really trying to protect you, but it's over exaggerating things. And it's trying to protect you sometimes from things you don't really need protected from. But when you find that inner critic, come up, you're going to notice that you go into anger. But I want you to ask yourself the question, what is the fear? That is behind the anger? And then I want you to go to the third layer. What is the request you're really asking of yourself? And then step four, is love, compassion. Being kind to yourself, and that is how you go from your inner critic, to actually self coaching yourself. And if for fun, you would like to name your inner critic. I would love to know what you name your inner critic. Take a screenshot of this podcast episode. Share it on Instagram, tag me at Kim Strobel joy. And when you tag me, let me know what you named your inner critic.