Who Is My Inner Critic?

I’m highly self-critical by nature, often to a fault. A good amount of the inner work I’ve been doing over the past 2 years has been about reigning that part of myself in. But now that I’m exploring the IFS (Internal Family Systems) I had a realization: While my inner critic has been the dominant voice in my head for most of my life… I don’t actually know much about this part of myself. 

[00:00:00] as I’ve been fucking around with my different inner parts over the last couple of days, especially with it three combo of that, inner critic or pusher and that the distractor or the bunker as I called it,… I had a couple of really interesting moments with my inner critic.
Okay. I told you where the first aha moment that I had. Was when I was driving to Frankfurt and I, it was going through this internal family systems therapy question thing in my own mind, I was just playing it out. And I was asking this firefighter part, that was the bunker. Hey, would you be open to do another job, but what would you rather do than this to help him?
And I instantly sensed enthusiasm for another idea. Right. And I mentioned this like spa yeah. Well, I’d rather build you a spa and have you in this fucking bunk up, I was like, oh, that’s cool. And then when I asked the critic, Hey, what would you rather do than being this [00:01:00] harsh unrelenting critic? what I got was not an answer, but the sensation of having to throw up and that one, it was the first aha moment for me, where I thought, okay, Ooh, maybe.
This inner critic is what’s causing some of my discomfort maybe that is the part in me that is afraid. And it’s not some like inner child. The part of me that’s the most afraid most present right now, maybe my inner critic. There’s some, because the response was basically like, fuck no, and you know, then I thought more about it.
And it was like, okay, this makes sense that this inner critic has dominated a good amount of my life has cost me to act oftentimes against my will in the way that I ought to act. Right. So it was responsible for some good in my life. so that moment stayed with me then. The other day I was reading [00:02:00] some ifs book and I threw a question to my inner critic.
And the response was it’s none of your fucking business. And it was sort of, the feeling that cost, those words was a feeling of, I don’t want to put, I don’t want to answer this, which then made me realize, oh, maybe that part of me, I mean,
it could be, could be my inner Rameen. But that part of me, maybe doesn’t fully trust what I’m currently doing. the, you know, work and the being creative and the. Feeling my feelings and all these changes that I’m making, that we have been celebrating, I thought, Hmm. Maybe there’s a part of me that is not happy about all of this and it’s actually resisting it, which comes back to my jaw.
Right? My jaw, probably the most prominent body part that we’ve been discussing on this [00:03:00] podcast. My tense jaw and I had a, another moment where I was playing through some of these different internal parts and dynamics in the, my inner kind of my inner systems. And I felt almost that, that tension in the jaw.
That I was always associating with just pure anger. Is there anger that I’m just suppressing or anger that I’m not in touch with? And I’m trying to connect with. I mean, that is the sensation to some degree, but this inner critic sits, it sits to some degree in the pot, in my joint. It’s almost like grinding its teeth, biting the tongue, not speaking, but being very tense and being somewhat angry and kind of in a position that is
combative without engaging anymore. Because here’s an interesting thing. When I think about my firefighter part, the bunker, the part [00:04:00] that tries to distract me, when things go too painful. That part has still had space in my life. In the last two years. I’ve still, I’ve been more aware of it.
I’ve been more in control of it. I didn’t allow it to run totally wild, but I gave it space. It was okay when, once in a while I needed a break, it was okay when I was, and I also was experimenting to some degree consciously or subconsciously. I was working with that part to be building more of a spa, right.
Instead of watching documentary. So listen to podcast, I’ve gone on more walks. I’ve read so much more. I’ve found other outlets. when I think about my inner critic, my inner critic has been silenced. In the last two years, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have, it just means that I don’t allow it to go. There is a tension inside of me almost every day. And [00:05:00] that tension, if it could speak would say, you ought to do more. You can do better and you can do more. This is not your maximum effort, which is the energy of my inner critic, but it’s not allowed to speak.
Like I don’t have these thoughts or when I have them, I stopped them early. I don’t have a critical voice these days, everyday running in my mind go, you should do more. You should do more. I don’t have it because every day I’m telling myself you’re doing fine. Take it slow one step at a time. You know, he’ll like explore these other areas of life.
Don’t just run with the urge to perform and to work. Just find these other ways of being and have been pretty good at at that. But now I’m wondering if all I’ve done is I have not included the critic set the critical at the table, negotiated with a [00:06:00] critic and figured out a way, how can we live better together?
I basically just, you know, I see like sitting in his cell, like the count of Monte Cristo, like hedging, a revenge play. Yes, yes. Sort of just like, silence it. Right. I just told that part of me now you’ve spoken enough now. Shush. You sit there and let the others at this table speak and make decisions and do things.
And that part of me might be sitting there. And just because it’s not speaking, it doesn’t mean that it’s an agreement or it piece. And that would explain a lot when I come, when it comes to the way I’m feeling, that would explain a lot, you know, remember all these times, like all these, we have all these episodes where I’m like, I don’t know how to relax.
I’m doing these relaxing things, but I have so much tension always in my body. I don’t know. I [00:07:00] don’t know how to get rid of this tension in my body in now. I go, oh, if that’s the case, I would kind of understand why at this table, there’s some tension, you know? And for the last three days, I’ve played with the experiment of.
Well at first, I started to speak to that part of me again, which is something I didn’t even think of doing and not speak to it in the shut up. Right. But in the dude, I’m actually really grateful for everything you’ve done for me. And you are really important part of me. And I want you to be part of the fucking team, right?
We have to find a way to work together. And the first few times that I’ve, as you would imagine in a real life scenario, kind of these first attempts remind part of them were honest. Part of them were maybe phoned in, but the response was not immediately positive. Like no open arms, [00:08:00] no real trust. That’s why also that response that popped in my head all the prior times when I was trying to have a dialogue with the inner critic, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get the, what I call the bunker to talk to me, but then a critic I could never get to talk.
Like, I cannot get that part of me to talk to me in that kind of internal family system, inner dialogue. And the first and only time that it’s spoken to me so far was the time where I heard it say, it’s none of your fucking business. And then I thought, Ooh, I guess we’re having trust issues. You know, maybe, maybe that part isn’t trusting me.
I’m like, why am I not trustworthy? Well, maybe, maybe I’m not trustworthy because I, uh, have just ignored that part of me, like, or have worked really hard to ignore it and to take power away from it without integrating, without understanding. And so the last few days I’ve been trying to play a little bit more with it.
And basically at times, like I, [00:09:00] every day I would in the morning go, all right, in a critic, if you get to vote for one thing we’re going to do today, what will be your vote? What do you think. Needs to happen. What’s something you uniquely want me to know that the other parts of me would not tell me. And then, you know, it’s still not been like super bubbly.
Like it’s not instantly, since I asked that question, I’m getting all these great answers and insights, but I had maybe like a, a hunch. And I was like, all right, I’m going to do this one shitty thing that I don’t want to do that I probably would avoid for another two weeks. I’m just going to do that today.
And it’s going to be my I’m going to, it’s my dedication to my inner critic, I’m going to do that as a peace offering, and then I’m going to do all the other things I was planning to do anyways. And it’s too early to tell where this will go, but I have felt much better tension wise.
Right. I’ve had no [00:10:00] intense jaw tension since I’ve started playing with this idea. So I’m curious to explore this further, but
at least in the metaphor, it makes so much sense. And it’s something I would have never thought about. Like to me, the goal was to silence that inner harsh critic, because I didn’t like him, but, and I do think that, you know, there are different parts within us, but then there’s also the self, right. Which is kind of when we are at our most enlightened at our most Zen at our most balanced, there’s a place where you’re, you’re at your best.
We use the, the, the purest form of who you are and let’s call that the self. Right. And I mean, there are many philosophies and religions and many schools of thoughts that all point to that, a version of that, right. Of explaining of what that is [00:11:00] in internal family systems. They also use that. I mean, it’s also, uh, a union concept.
He really integrated that from many other disciplines into his kind of into his school of psychotherapy. But in ifs, they also use the idea of the self and they go, you know, we have all these different parts, but at the center we still have ourself. Sometimes we blend with parts. So the parts take over and there are so inter so blended with the self that we can’t distinct them can separate them, but.
There is a voice in us. There’s a, a force in us that is the self. And what oftentimes happens in ifs is that you have, I have the, you activate the self and then you have the self actually talking to these different parts, negotiating with them, giving them attention, right? Like integrating them. A lot of it is very, even when you work with a therapist, a lot of [00:12:00] it is the therapist will ask questions, but most of the answers and solutions are being generated by the self and the self, having a dialogue with these parts.
Right. So it’s all, self-taught in some way. Right. And I have noticed, and in an increase of presence of myself, right. I do feel more like myself. I do feel more of that today than I have in a long time. So that has grown. And I was always wondering, well, that is growing. I can feel I’m going to the right direction, but where is this tension then from and how do I release it?
Right. To me, it was unintuitive. It felt, it felt like if I’m, if I’m becoming more and more myself, if I’m more and more honest, more and more authentic, if I live more, [00:13:00] you know, according to my passions, my desires, my curiosity, my, my honest feelings, and I am not suppressing and hiding and running away and pushing, then shouldn’t I gain the sense of ease and an increase in energy.
Right. That was kind of intuitively what I was waiting for. It was not quite happening the way that I thought it would. And should. And now that I’m looking at this imaginary critics sitting at the seat at this large marble table that I’m sitting at, I’m thinking, well, that maybe makes sense. Maybe there’s this really important part of me that I just, I didn’t make peace with.
I just abandoned in some way that, that part didn’t like, and doesn’t like, and it’s making itself self, right. It is making me feel what I, [00:14:00] what it thinks of me, you know, even when I, when it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it doesn’t talk to me anymore. So I can’t tell her to shut the fuck up, but it just clenches my joint, tensing it up.
So I know what’s going on, that I’m being disapproved of Fascinating shit. I don’t know. I’ll see where this, where this continues to go, but it’s been an interesting couple of days of me playing with different ideas and having new little aha moments where, um, ha I never thought about that. Huh? That would explain X, Y, and Z.
So yeah, I know. And you know, oh, go ahead. So I know you, you haven’t had any, you know, breakthrough moments in these peace negotiations yet, but what was the conversation with your inner critic? Like, what are some things that you try to communicate to the part and what is it telling you that other than none of your business, you know, I asked the question at one, one of, kind of a, flagship question is.
If you could do [00:15:00] another job instead of being the critic, if you could have another role, what would that role be? I remember asking my inner critic what it thinks of what I’ve been doing the last two years now. I’ve been living my life and I couldn’t get, I couldn’t get an answer or a response. It’s almost like I’m talking to somebody.
That’s, it’s almost like talking to you when you’re angry, upset. It’s like you talk to somebody and they just, they just cannot speak back to you yet. And
when I asked about the, what it thinks of this other part, like the kind of the. Firefighter distractor the bunker. I didn’t get words, but I got a pretty clear sense that it was like,
when you’re in there, you’re just hiding from you from who you have to be. And you’re just lying to yourself by looking away. Like I can’t, you just being a piece of shit. Somebody that’s not tackling his challenge as [00:16:00] somebody that is running away from his problems, somebody that is hiding in comfort, like a coward.
My inner critic, I don’t think has been happy with the general idea of even with this podcast, right. Of let’s just talk creative ideas and let’s explore and let’s be vulnerable and let’s do art. And let’s not worry about setting goals. Let’s not set targets and milestones and lets when we are on the podcast, that part is not active.
Like I’m most often in the self I would, I would assume. And so I’m immensely enjoying it and I’m having a great time and I’m feeling better afterwards. And the same thing is true in other like activities that I do where I’m fully engaged in, you know, myself and having a good time. But overall in the day, Because I am not [00:17:00] pushing myself anymore right now.
Like I used to, because I’m not stressed out all day because I’m not having tons of goals. I’m chasing because I’m not grinding because I’m not pushing as hard.

You know, the mind can go either direction under stress, towards positive or towards negative.

, I’m trying to treat myself well, I’m trying to take my time and I’m trying to do things in an enjoyable way.
my inner critic is not sitting there, like applauding my success or my growth or my change. It’s just sitting there and thinks that to some degree, all this feels like I’m just not doing as much as I could do enhance. I’m not doing what I’m responsible to do, which is okay. Always give it my all and always give a thousand percent and I’m, I’m not, I could do more.
And that [00:18:00] the inner critic is not cool with that. It’s just sitting then has to be silent about it, but he’s actually angry at it.
yeah. And it’s also a place where that inner critic doesn’t have a role to play. Right. It’s like, like a basketball game where this grand master of chess who is not athletic. Right? Yep. This is dumb. Yeah. Yeah. There’s no, there’s no, there’s no integration of that part, right? There’s no new role or there’s no way to integrate some of the towns or energy.
I think about the. Insane amount of energy. That part of me has that is now tied up in a bundle and can do anything.
And that also explains, you know, I had a number of friends that past years I’ve had struggles at times because I had critical thoughts about them, but that didn’t want [00:19:00] to, this has been a conflict of mind for a long time. Like I’m hypercritical with people I care about. And I don’t want to tell them really what I think, because I think it would be too hard in a weird way.
I was thinking, this is what I’m doing with myself. Like I I’ve now. And I always, when that would happen, when I would meet somebody and have hyper harsh, critical thoughts about them, And hold all of that back. It would always make me feel so crushingly bad, right? Because there was so much tension that I was holding and it was in such internal turmoil.
I was not letting go and letting loose and thinking that problem, I’m going to give them my truth. And I don’t give a shit. And I wasn’t Zen thinking, they’re fine. They’re okay. I’m okay. I was thinking all these things and holding them inside. Right. And that would make me feel really, really bad. And now I was thinking, well, I’m doing the same in some way.
I’m now doing the same thing with myself without being aware of it. I wasn’t aware that this is what I [00:20:00] was doing, but I’m basically, I have a part in me that has a lot of critical things to say about me and I forbidden it to talk, but it’s not, not having these thoughts. So it just holds that all in now.
There’s another part of me, you know, which is, I don’t know, maybe an angry part or a defensive part. That’s the, maybe the defensive part that wants to go, the critic needs to shut the fuck up. You know, there’s not that much to criticize right now. And all the things that the critic would say right now, are you relevant?
So there’s this kind of, kind of reaction when the critic gets a little bit of something, maybe there’s another part of me that’s like shut up, you know? But what’s clear is that
it’s such an important part of me and just shooshing it right. Is definitely not the way to go. Like that’s not longterm the play.
And [00:21:00] so I’ll have to play with other ideas. And even, I wasn’t even aware of all this honesty, like we’re talking about this as if I, if I made these decisions clearly in this modality, which I didn’t. Right. I was just silencing unhelpful in a critical dialogue that I thought only makes me feel bad, but it’s not useful right now.
That’s what I was trying to do that. And then focusing on getting better at enjoyment and relaxing and being creative again, I’m doing, exploring these new parts of me. That was really what I was trying to do. But the sensation that I’ve had, one really big sensation that I’ve had along the way, was this incredible tension.
That I could not release in. Couldn’t quite understand. And now
I have a new idea and I’ll, I’ll play with that one and see if that, maybe that is the key that unlocks the door. That [00:22:00] makes sense. I mean, right now it feels like it because it makes so much sense, but I’ll know once I live a sinless life or once that whole, the amount of tension that I’ve felt over the last two years drastically reduces through some of this work, then I’ll be like, that was it.
Yep. Let’s see, you had this this conversation with Alex ones on the flight where you basically told them a lot of the critical things. And I recall. You saying the conversation went like very well. Right? So that was one example where the, like the, this very critical part of you was able to express itself and it all went well.
No. Oh, you know? Yeah, no. Yeah. Yes and no. You know what happened there? What happened? There was a multi-step process because when the thing went down, that I, the, when, when the event happened and I had anger against Alex, I was hiding from him. Right. I was [00:23:00] hiding because I knew if I see him, he asks me, I’m going to destroy him.
At least I’m going to be unnecessarily harsh. So I was literally hiding. I was trying to no eye contact. I really don’t want him to see me because I’m afraid of what I’m going to say
when I went. So the airplane after the event, and I had this thought, oh, in two days, I’m flying with Alex to Greece for a month. And when I’m going to sit in the airplane, he’s going to ask me for feedback. What the fuck am I going to tell him that that’s what I almost had a panic attack. And that’s what I went through.
The question, why am I so afraid to be so harsh to Alex? why do I feel so intensely? Like, what is it? And there I realized because I’m afraid to hurt him this much. And then I thought, well, [00:24:00] Why am I afraid to hurt him? And then it kind of clicked. And I realized that the thing I was angry about with him was something I’d been angry about with myself for a long time.
And so that anger that I felt in this kind of overwhelming way was an anger I had towards myself in the fear I had to release that anger towards him. There was a fear of confronting that anger, Nick, like in facing it myself, like facing my inner angle, like facing the way I really think about myself and on that flight, I, I went through a transformation of sorts of forgiving myself, for lack of a better word for this and that forgiveness calm me down.
And then. When I was at peace with myself about this one grave sin, I had committed, which to me was the sin to not live authentically. Like I didn’t believe in [00:25:00] myself enough and I didn’t live as authentically if I, as I needed in certain areas. That that was what I saw with Alex and triggered me is that I saw him do something within a different context in that way.
Maybe say agree with him. Once I had forgiven myself for that, when we went to Greece and we sat down and I gave Alex my critical feedback, it was just the facts. It was, there was no emotion because I was not harshness. There was no harshness because there was no anger. I was not angry at him anymore. I was actually like just, I loved him.
I, I could much, clearly, much more clearly. Feel how much he cared, how much effort he had put into everything and why he had made maybe certain things that I deemed mistakes. So there was more compassion for him than anger towards him. And I gave him the facts brutally, honestly. Right. [00:26:00] I, I, I didn’t sweet talk anything, but it didn’t cause any injuries.
I think because I gave him these very hard facts without anger and without really attacking him, I gave him those harsh facts with compassion. And so he was able to take them on board. Maybe there’s something here where, you know, I do think, and I have been thinking that this. This inner critic is also my bullshit detector and it’s my no BS truth teller, because there’s nothing that my inner critic that’s maybe not true, maybe overstating it, but there’s many things that my inner critic says effectually true.
Right? But it’s the emotions behind them. The maybe the amount of anger and panic, it’s the fear that is maybe driving in a critic, the fear and panic [00:27:00] that I’m going to become a loser or that I’m going to not live up to my responsibilities. There’s an irrational fear that makes that criticism too relentless and too.
You know, actually it’s grinding me down. It’s not building me up and helping me do these things that he wants me to do to finding, finding a way where the inner critic gets a microphone becomes the inner truth teller, right. Is somebody that is maybe also the challenger, but just not this kind of relentless 24 seven nagging, nagging, nagging, nagging, nag, and kind of in a state that is never considering contacts, never considering the bigger picture.
Like you just ran a super marathon at, by the end, as you’re like, as you’re relaxing, you’re eating ice cream, the voices like you should be doing this, you should be doing that. That’s kind of where it’s unreasonable.
Yeah. And helping that , Or being able to tell the inner critic, Hey, you have that superpower and I want [00:28:00] you to use it. Right. but this thing that you’re so afraid of, you can let go of that fear, yeah. but that is, uh, I think, oftentimes these parts of us, they are stuck emotionally in a situation that was, that felt really, really, really, really bad.
And so everything they do on a loop is try to prevent us from ever experiencing that moment again, what they would sometimes, or oftentimes doesn’t happen is that as that moment goes further and further in the past, and as we grow up and become people that could not even be in that situation again, That, that part is not evolving and adjusting.
It’s just stuck there. it is every day acting within us as if an imminent threat is being nine years old at the playground and peeing your pants and everybody’s laughing at you or something like as if that’s something that has to be prevented today. [00:29:00] Right. But it’s maybe, you know, it’s not even possible that that, that level of humiliation would happen that easily.
And especially, it’s not that that level of humiliation awaits behind every little thing that you could do today or should do or shouldn’t. Do you know what I mean? Like there’s no differentiation. That’s kind of stuck emotionally in a, in a moment that felt so bad that now it kind of is another loop trying to prevent that moment.
From ever happening again. I think when you can let that go recognize that we’re not children anymore, this is not a valid threat anymore. Then
the beautiful idea would be to be able to transform that part of yourself to a part that doesn’t have to play for avoidance. Like it doesn’t have to protect you from some really life-threatening thing, but cannot play for
adding to your life and making your life richer, better, making [00:30:00] you stronger, making your life more fulfilled. Instead of just doing everything to prevent. Whatever you becoming a loser, you being worthless, you being embarrassed, whatever it is. Um, yeah, I almost feel like there’s both, there’s a part of ourselves that wants to prevent that at any cost.
And there’s a part of herself that wants to re-experience that, and this time resolve it rather than like, being defined by it.
Yeah. Could be, could be we are, if nothing else, we’re interesting creatures. full of paradox, yeah, getting to know my inner critic better is not something that I would have said even three months ago is of interest to me. Right. I would have thought my inner critic, I have no minor critic, well enough. Like I’m trying to get to know all these other things. Like I’m trying to get all these other people in this table to get to know them better, but that’s not true.
I [00:31:00] mean, critic is more like a critic, like who’s been making your life. In some ways really great. And in some ways really miserable, but you don’t know what you’re in. Like what’s your inner critics, favorite food what’s what does he like to do? What exactly you don’t, you don’t know that, like, I don’t know that part I’ve been just because I’m hearing it screaming me in my ear doesn’t mean I like, I’ve never turned around to look at it and go, how old is my inner critic?
I have no idea. What is, what is my inner critic afraid of? what is really going on here? what does my inner critic think about these other parts of me? Like I’ve never gotten to know it and I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t even aware that I could, but I was also not particularly excited about exploring that more.
I felt like I’m pretty self-critical. And now in the now I’m currently working on getting better at. Being a Jew. I’m great. I’m black belt that critical. I’m trying to learn, not critical. You know, like that’s what I’m trying to learn. [00:32:00] And I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. But one thing that I’m realizing is that my inner critic is very fucking powerful.
I always knew that. And maybe it can’t just be ignored. Maybe that’s not a way to deal with this. Maybe just needs to be loved more or understood, better integrated, upgraded, whatever. But now it’s got my attention. Now. It has got my attention and I’m looking at it. I’m winking at it, you know, throwing little kisses and I’m going good.
You can be mad at me, but now you’ve got my attention, you know? And now that you got my attention, we’ll get to know each other. We’ll take it from there. Yeah. Interesting times indeed. In the village of Steli FDA’s mind. Yeah.

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