Welcome back, tiny sparks readers! I hope the close of your summer was lovely, and as we enter into autumn, I hope you enjoy the best of it: the changing leaves, crisp mornings, and warm drinks. While I took a break from this newsletter, I was very much still active in my therapy practice, holding my first glimmer mini-retreat (so much fun!), getting settled into my new home, and celebrating my pup’s 16th birthday!
Now, on to this week’s topic!
Let me lay out a scenario for you - have you ever wanted to try something new, join a new group, or try to make new friends but you’ve felt so much anxiety and fear that you’ve held yourself back? Maybe you wanted to sign up for a beginner ceramics class but you have this persistent inner voice saying “What if don’t know what you’re doing, what if you look stupid, nothing you make will even look good, you’ll probably mess it up and look silly.” Welcome to the ring… your inner critic.
While I was absent from this newsletter space, I kept coming back to the idea of our inner critic and how it functions. There’s a reason it’s called inner critic rather than inner coach or cheerleader - if it was functioning as a coach or cheerleader, I wouldn’t have much to write about this week! Let’s talk about how our inner critic develops.
Many of us might have grown up with parents, caregivers, teachers, family members, or other adults who consciously or subconsciously shamed us or punished us. You might be wondering how you can subconsciously shame or punish, but the thing is, it’s not always vindictive or mean shame and punishment. It could be very subtle, such as we didn’t do as well in a class or on a test and we notice that mom pays us a little less attention than usual. However, that subtle little shift, to a child’s brain, tells that child: “So if I don’t do really really well, mom loves me less.”
Remember, that doesn’t have to be mom’s intent at all, but that sets the stage. So then, we grow up and become adults, having internalized this belief that to keep ourselves “good” and in connection with others (perhaps no longer the same adults from childhood, but now friends, partners, and co-workers), we have to be really good; we have to be the best.
Here’s the thing about adulthood: it’s not as easy as going to school, studying hard, getting an A, and having everyone love us. Sadly, what happens is that our brain creates this critical internal voice that punishes and shames us all the time. Then, we wonder why we feel so badly and find it difficult to move towards what we want.
It can impact everything how we form relationships, our work, how we spend our free time, and more. Oftentimes, we may try to white-knuckle our way through it by gritting our teeth and constantly trying to battle our thoughts. This can start to feel like an internal battle of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots (does anyone else remember these?), you versus your inner critic - and it’s exhausting to be battling yourself all the time.
Read more here: https://trishawolfe.substack.com/p/its-me-hi