The Critical Mind - What is it? Do I Have One of Those?

Just what is this Critical Mind?

People often think of it as:

Self-Doubt.  Self-Critic.  Judging Mind.  Not Believing in Myself.   Being Too Hard on Myself.

What are the Clues to tracking down the Critical Mind?

It may attack in the form of:
    •    drip drip drip – like a slow leaky faucet or
    •    pow! – a punch in the gut or
    •    silent & stealth – completely undetected like lethal gas
It can leave you feeling:
    •    jabbed by sharp little pokes
    •    heavy, weighed down, & sluggish
    •    cranky & angry like hornets
    •    overwhelmed & out of control like being sucked into a tornado

This Critical Mind generates judgments and criticisms about how we don’t measure up.

Most of us have some form of this.  The volume may be turned up or turned down.  The frequency may be high or low.  It is typically experienced as a Voice in our head.

The Voice says words like: stupid, idiot, ugly, fat, failure, weak, show-off, freak, boring, lazy, careless

The Voice generates these kinds of thoughts: you could have done better, you screwed that up, you let them down, what’s wrong with you? you’re out of control, you’re not doing it right, you’re too shy/loud/ uptight, you are not good enough, nobody likes you, you should be able to, you should have known.

The Voice has power because it feels like this Voice speaks The Truth.

How do we get this Critical Mind?

The Critical Mind is formed by the internalization of messages from important people in our past.  It primarily comes from messages (either spoken or unspoken) by our parents.  Sometimes others like teachers or cruel peers leave their trace as deposits in the Critical Mind.

When we are children we are defenseless against this – we are like little sponges and we absorb everything that comes our way.  The messages may come in a direct verbal form like, “you screwed that up!” or indirect like, “if you had done it this way, you wouldn’t have fallen down.”  We especially absorb non-verbal messages and energy.

A key piece here is the concept of internalization – those external messages transform inside us to become our own internal voice.  Moreover, it is actually so much a part of us, that typically, we don’t even notice its presence.  But we feel its effects whether we notice it or not.  And herein lies the danger, if you will.

Who Me? Couldn’t Be!

Sometimes people are adamant that this voice does not exist inside — and again that is because this voice is so sneaky and so integrated into who we are that it operates under the radar.  But when people begin directing their awareness to pay very close attention, they can detect the traces of this harsh voice.  This discovery can be surprising, overwhelming, and painful.

The good news though, is that this detection allows you to start working with the antidote to the Critical Mind.  This is one of the cornerstones of my counseling practice – if you would like to learn more about working with this antidote, feel free to set up a therapy appointment at my office in NW Portland by calling me at 503.224.6559.