Health Wise: Mindfulness and the Inner Critic

 12/11/2017 - 15:10

Often times we get caught up in our own inner dialogue. Mostly referred to as the “inner critic” - this tiny little voice in our heads creates self-debilitating thoughts of doubt, shame, and embarrassment.

You may notice that for most of us this inner critic is at an “on” function all of the time in our lives – whether at home, while running errands, watching television, or attending a party. You may be sitting in your back yard and relaxing and up goes the inner critic shaming the self and blaming you for not being productive. It goes something like this – “why are you wasting your time sitting here? You could have done so many productive things in this hour”. And as the inner critic takes over, we lose our precious moments of tranquility and peace, letting emotions like guilt and anxiety pervade our minds.

Alas, we surrender to the critic!

In a split second, we start judging our actions possibly hindering our self-esteem, often leading to sadness and a reduction of our over all wellbeing. The more we pay attention to and listen to the inner critic, the more ‘powerful’ it becomes, directly attacking our self-worth.

Cultivating mindfulness brings awareness to the inner critic. Paying attention to this tiny little voice in our head creates discernment of the self from the voice. In other words, one is able to recognize that the voice in the head is not me but my inner critic. With the practice of mindfulness one can get to the clarity of recognizing these unhelpful and unwanted critical thoughts and learn to let go of them.

Try it yourself:

  1. Find a place where you can be undisturbed for a few minutes (5-10 minutes). Assume a comfortable position by either sitting in a chair, upright, yet relaxed or on a cushion on the floor.
  2. Allow your body to be at ease.
  3. Slowly close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. And then, eventually to the various sensations of your body.
  4. Now, gradually bring attention to your thoughts/inner critic in your head and let the thoughts flow as they are.
  5. Slowly and gradually bring awareness to a particular thought and name it, such as – “a thought of judgment” or a “thought of embarrassment”. Recognize that this is just a thought and let it go.
  6. Befriend your inner critic by offering compassion to yourself. Place a palm(s) on your heart and say out loud -

                         “I am here for you”

                         “I care for you”

                         “I’ll be okay”

                         “I got this”

                        “I am a brave person”

Mansi Brat's picture
Mansi Brat
Mansi is a psychotherapist at Still Waters Counseling. She earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lindenwood University, MO. She also earned her doctoral degree in Counselor Education from the University of Toledo, OH with an emphasis in Mindfulness Meditation. Mansi values an integrative and strength-based counseling approach. She believes in holistic wellness that embodies the person as a “whole” – the physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, occupational, social, and environmental aspects of healing. Her philosophy resides on the foundational elements of instilling hope through creative transformation and sound intentionality. Incorporating these in unison, Mansi’s aim is to provide a sound space of comfort, warmth and trust that enables individual’s to find their purpose and meaning in life. Mansi is also a certified yoga instructor. Her journey began back in 2010 when she started exploring holistic forms of healing and wellness. As this exploration developed, she noticed subtle changes in her thoughts and perception of what it means to be well. More so, she developed a deep connection with her innermost self. For her, yoga is creating a space of awareness. It is in this awareness that the mind ceases to control all external worries and anxieties. Through her classes, she aims to teach her students the beauty of being present to the ‘now’. I invite you to experience a journey beyond yourself, uncovering boundless possibilities to rediscover your eternal self. Welcome aboard!