Most of us are much harsher on ourselves than on those around us and many of us would never dream of speaking to our friends the way we speak to ourselves. The put downs, the invalidation, the name calling, the ‘shoulds’ and the unrelenting demands, which come in the form of subtle whispers and loud sirens, are usually unique to our relationship with ourselves. When talking to close friends we are usually more caring, more forgiving and more mindful of the impact our words have on them. Sadly we forget there is also a part of us that hears the things we say about ourselves and is impacted by the words we use about ourselves. And it’s not just what we say but the tone in which we say it, which is often sharp, hard and even brutal, that has an impact. And as you can imagine the impact of self criticism is often some sort of suffering, be it reducing our self confidence, lowering our self esteem, generating feelings of anxiety, shame, self disgust or self directed anger to name a few. This is often not the intention of the inner critic but it is sadly often the consequence.
The inner critic in therapy
Many people who come to therapy have, for various reasons that are not their fault, developed a very strong and cruel inner critic and we often work with people in helping them soften this part of themselves using ideas and skills from Compassion Focused Therapy as well as other approaches. Last week Ellie Hunt, a journalist for The Guardian newspaper wrote a great piece on how self compassion can help silence your inner critic. Paul Gilbert, the founder of Compassion Focused Therapy as well as other members of the Compassionate Mind Foundation have contributed to the article. We hope you find it informative and helpful.