Using my psychology here and my own personal experience, I do believe that in order to turn off your inner critic you need not only to do what we call “shadow” work but also “light” work. Shadow work is about accepting your own limitations and shortfalls as a human being. It is also about dealing with past trauma, attachment issues and negative emotions that are still stored in your body.
On another hand, light work is what I call to the process of accepting and loving yourself for the good qualities and virtues that you have. Doing both shadow and light work requires patience, time and effort. For some people, it takes years of on and off therapy sessions, because the process involves not only your commitment but also courage to face aspects of your inner life that you may have been running away from for quite some time.
Nonetheless, going through these two processes is extremely important to achieve a greater sense of wellbeing. You might uncover events and situations that you didn’t even remember, and that alone can throw you out of balance. However, those same events and situations, hidden in your unconscious and subconscious mind, do consume a good amount of mental energy. They function pretty much like ghosts in a haunted house – you might not even see or believe in them, but they disturb you and your overall wellbeing.
As time goes by, unmanaged emotions, memories and hurtful narratives start to eventually manifest themselves in the form of minor or major physical ailments. Most of us is not even aware of the intrinsic connection between the health of our unconscious and the health of our body. Some people are already noticing how the unconscious affects their wellbeing though, which is what I want to focus here. So how can we become more aware of the negative patterns that drain our energy and focus?
Whatever technique you choose, I believe it is all about creating opportunities for self-reflection. Be it through meditation, hypnosis or even writing, the most important is to put yourself in a reflective mode, a sort of trance or meditative state in which you become a non-judgmental observer of your inner reality. Note that I’m saying observer, not critic, because the goal is to simply notice what kind of program is running in our system. Do you have more positive thoughts than negative ones? Do you feel emotionally balanced? Does your body close on it itself or is it open and receptive?
To find answers to this type of questions you need to work on your self-reflection and self-observation abilities. You need to tune in and listen to what both your unconscious mind and physical body are communicating. Only then you can have a clearer depiction of how bad your inner critic is. In other words, you can see how badly you treat yourself. Don’t let yourself be discouraged though. We need to start somewhere, and we can only improve our wellbeing once we know where we stand. I was once in a very dark place too – we all are at some (or several!) points in life.
As soon as you begin to spot your inner critic, it becomes easier to invite it out of your life. You need, however, to feed your mind and body with more positive programs. For instances, you need to feed your mind with positive affirmations about yourself and your body with nourishing foods. You need to tell yourself that you are deserving of love, no matter your circumstances in the present moment or your past actions. This might be the most difficult challenge, because you will have two tasks at the same time: first, you will have to spot the inner critic and invite it out, and second you will have to replace negative beliefs (e.g. I will never be happy) and feelings (e.g. sadness, frustration) about yourself. I do recommend you have a look at Dr Margaret Paul’s work on inner bonding and Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” for specific exercises to increase self-love and self-confidence.