I’ve recently been doing these exercises from a great book called Succulent Wild Love by Sark and Dr. John Waddell. I definitely recommend the whole book as an excellent read and in one of the chapters titled Inner Critics, the writers lay out a really detailed and engaging way of identifying your Inner Critics, stopping them and then transforming them.
Inner Critics live in the realm of your subconscious and often in a Tarot Therapy session, they emerge from the shadows and you realise that they’ve been pulling the strings all along. More often than not, most people can’t separate the voice of an Inner Critic from their own voice.
So these Sub-Dwellers, these characters who got formed were developed when you were growing up. As a small child, you learnt to survive by not getting into trouble with adults - these include parents, teachers, and other authority figures. They inadvertently installed beliefs about how you should behave and how you should think.
Soon these external voices that didn’t belong to you then become your inner voices. And while they were helpful in the past, they now are a cluster of beliefs that are still in your subconscious and are not so useful anymore.
The techniques shared in Wild Succulent Love is an excellent system for self love and self care. The tools given really do allow you to help silence the voices that scold, berate and bully. If you are looking to love yourself, here’s a really good start.
GET TO KNOW THE INNER CRITICS
The book identifies these 6 different types, I’ve shortened the full write-up:
The Good Person - This is the idealised standard. Eg: the good wife, the good girlfriend, the good husband and it hurts you because you deny who you are to become this imaginary person.
The Overachiever or The Pushy One- This personality is responsible for the voice that tells you it’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH. This critic pushes you to live up to an impossible standard. So even when you attain your goals, it’s not enough.
The Perfectionist - Everything is constantly assessed and analysed for needing to be “better” and nothing or no one is ever going to meet all those standards.
The Comparer - Everyone else’s life is better. Every comparison finds you lacking in some way. You often think your life is harder while everyone else has it good and all figured out.
The Procrastinator - Rehearsing, planning, researching, thinking - without moving are the hallmarks of this critic. When you do not do as you said you would, you feel guilty.
The Hopeless One - The Hopeless One has a fatalistic view of the world and tends to dramatise everything. This critic is often found saying - “Nothing ever works out for me. It’s all pointless!"
“Remember everything that evokes feelings of being less than or not enough, of lack, or that you “should be” different, is an Inner Critic,” state the writers of Succulent Wild Love.
THE EXERCISE: PUT A NAME ON IT
The idea behind giving your Inner Critics new names is to separate them from you. By using your imagination to create a new persona for them, you help create much needed distance. It makes it easier to identify them when they are speaking. For me I really enjoyed this part of the exercise. So here are some of the characters living in my inner landscape. Please meet them:
Who are the people in your mental neighbourhood?
Ernest Ernesta/Good Person
I think my Good Person Inner Critic comes in the voice of Ernest Ernesta. After all I’m the daughter of Ernest because that was my father’s middle name and my grandfather’s first name. So as a product of Great Earnestness, I have this Good Personna that is constantly thriving, striving and trying to be GOOD.
Kan Cheong Kathy/Overachiever or Pushy One
Next is Kan Cheong Kathy and I think her source is the Overachiever or Pushy One. Kan Cheong Kathy can’t be satisfied and constantly feels that this is not good enough. She is always getting Kan Cheong because she believes she has so much to do, and so little time.
When Ernest Ernesta and Kan Cheong Kathy gang up against me, it’s exhausting. OMG I’m constantly running ragged trying my best to improve or get healthier, or read more. I’ve always got some self improvement project going on and I always bite off more than I can chew, leaving myself feeling overwhelmed.
Calculative Connie/The Comparer
Calculative Connie is the Comparer, so she’s constantly looking over at other people and keeping score on how I’m not doing as well as everyone else. Yes, Calculative Connie’s voice has kept me up on many nights as she compares in excruciating detail how everyone else is better, luckier, richer, more beautiful, etc etc.
Ms Meh/The Procrastinator & Hopeless One
Ms Meh is the latest Inner Critic to make herself known. She’s part Procrastinator and part The Hopeless One. She shows up when I have just reached and attained a goal and instead of feeling happy and inspired - I feel Meh. I feel as if the air is taken out of my tyres and I feel flat and uninspired. Ms Meh sucks the colours right out of my world and I have always wondered why I don’t feel happy and excited when I should be.
EXERCISE PART 2: GIVE THEM A JOB
Once you’ve identified them, it’s important to give them jobs because Inner Critics are actually trying to be helpful and keep you safe. While harsh, they are well meaning and want to serve. Remember you can’t get rid of your Inner Critic. By inventing a job or a productive vacation for them, it provides them a distraction and keeps their focus off on you. Also remember to give them pretend jobs that align with their personalities. Here are some ideal jobs for my Inner Critics:
She’s checked into a luxury spa retreat for Enlightenment and Personal Growth & Development. The perfect way for The Good One to spend her time.
Kan Cheong Kathy
I thought she would thrive training and pushing herself to compete in the Iron Man endurance race.
She’s given the task of tabulating how much better my life has been in the last 10 years. After that she’s going stargazing and can spend her time counting the stars.
I have dressed her in the finest pyjamas and she’s checked into luxury hotels around the world to take naps, test room service and report back on who has the best mattress.
The techniques really work to separate you from the old beliefs and to help stop beating yourself up and being your own worst enemy. Plus when I finished the exercises, I had a lot of compassion for my Inner Critics and I could identify them easily and know it’s only some old parts of myself trying to be helpful, rather than the TRUTH of who I am.
Anyways, in the next edition, we will meet our Awesome Allies or what I like to call your Wise Inner Council who live in the Subconscious like your Wise Inner Self, the Aware Self and your magical Inner Child. They are there as your cosmic cheerleaders in your journey.
If you are interested to delve deeper into your Inner Critics work, you can book me for a Tarot Therapy session to find new ways to manage them.