One of the universal aspects of the human psyche is the internal voice known as the Inner Critic, the Saboteur, or the Gremlin.

This voice feels at times like it is speaking the Whole Truth about us, but actually it is one very narrow, critical perspective that is usually born out of our childhood experiences (thanks, Mom and Dad), even the happy ones.

The Inner Critic’s role is to keep us safe, and it takes this role seriously. 

It operates from a place of fear, is overly careful, and is often downright cruel.  It says things like:

“You sound so stupid/You’re an idiot/You suck.”
“You’ll never be as good as ________”
“You should (or shouldn’t)__________ “
“Don’t embarrass yourself!”
“You ALWAYS/NEVER_______”

When we let this voice chatter on, unquestioned and unchallenged, it keeps us stuck.  Safe, but stale and stuck.  

It gets loud and frantic the minute we make a move to leave our dead-end job, or put up an OK Cupid profile, or sign up for salsa lessons.  “No!  You might look bad!  Or fail!  or…or….”

Even worse, the Inner Critic keeps us in a state of perpetual self-loathing, incapable of opening to and recognizing the magnificence, beauty, and purity that lives in the heart of every human being.  And yes, that includes YOU.

Letting ourselves off the hook of the Inner Critic feels scary.  The Inner Critic makes up stories that if we stop with the constant self-flagellation, we will wind up homeless/gain 100 pounds/make a critical error/fail/never date again/be humiliated.

Somehow, self-criticism feels noble and righteous, or at least our Inner Critic would like us to think so.  Unconditional self-love seems at best, simple-minded, uncritical or ridiculously earnest,  and at worst, downright arrogant or immoral.  Guess what?

It is actually the key, the only path, to happiness and inner peace.

And, it is a practice.  We are well versed in the habit of taking the Inner Critic’s dictates and running with them.

We are less skilled at saying, “Hmmm.  There I go, getting nervous before a big move.  Time to feel the fear and do it anyway,” or “Thanks, Inner Critic, but that’s an old story and it’s time I challenged it,” or especially, “I am a divine being.  I am love incarnate.  There is nothing wrong with me.  I deserve happiness, joy, and peace.  And FUN!  Definitely fun.”

How do you let yourself off the hook?

1.  Awareness:  Stop.  Breathe.  Notice that the Inner Critic is there.

2.  Forgive yourself for having an Inner Critic.  You’re human.

3.  Ask yourself “What do I REALLY want?”  Listen without judgment, or if you judge it, notice that, and let the Inner Critic go.

4.  Act in accordance to your True Self, and give yourself some love.

5.  Cultivate compassion for your humanity, and along with that, for the human condition.

6.  Love yourself.  Period.  Practice.  Fake it ’til you make it.  You’ll get there, and it’s worth it.