Are you aware of the power of negative thoughts and the havoc they wreak? One enlightenment for me is how easy it is to dwell on the negative. “The research found that the average person has between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and of the thousands of thoughts, 80% are negative, and 95% are repetitive, which means that the thoughts we had today we had yesterday.” Even if you had a new thought, it follows the old patterns precisely why God instructs us to renew our minds.
The negative thoughts are sometimes called our inner critic. “The self-critic” symbolizes the strict, inner normative voice that interferes with the individual’s organismic experiencing process.” The inner critic is harsh. It says things like:
You are not good enough.
You can’t do it.
It is the voice of discouragement and doom, and if you have allowed it to be your worst critic, I encourage you to name it, recognize its power and begin the process of gaining control over the inner critic. Perhaps you’re wondering, what? Name it??? An article in Psychology Today stated that “naming your critic allows you to see it for what it is. When you name your critic, it loses some of its power because you are acknowledging that you are not the problem.”
One of my clients lived a life of taking responsibility for things that were not their fault. They apologized to others for things they thought were a reaction to something they did or said. Another client was caught in the web of comparison. They examined the negative things about themselves and compared them to the positives of others. It caused them to despair. They were in a constant state of feeling bad about themselves. However, they started to understand that the critic was not them, and they did not have to believe every thought that entered their mind. When we recognize the inner critic’s role, we can align ourselves with our gentler rational judge.
Dr. John Townsend says a “healthy judge has two aspects: it is (1) warm and (2) accurate. Accurate has to do with the truthfulness of the judge’s perspective. A healthy judge should cheer you when you succeed and prompt you to change when you fail. Unhealthy judges will tend to prompt us when we’ve done nothing wrong (a false positive-like making you feel you broke the speed limit when you didn’t).” A distorted critic can also prevent you from celebrating your wins, notably your small victories because it is not good enough.
Understanding one’s inner critic is a process and a journey of staying aware and embracing a healthy judge.
Regina Hall, MA LPC
Perspectives Counseling Centers, Psychotherapist