What’s the Inner Critic?

  • A sub-personality
    • A manifestation of one’s Self view
    • A filter that colors our everyday life
  • Continuously judging and blaming us
    • Has a sense of harshness
  • It may have its origin in childhood
    • But we are construing it in our mind everyday
  • Its power is in its vagueness
    • The more we focus our attention on it, the more it loses power

Effects on Us

  • Creates a sense of inadequacy, not being enough, fear

  • It suppresses deep seated needs of human beings:

    • Capacity for self-expression and Creativity
    • Capacity for intimacy and revealing oneself
  • Sometimes it affects even our relationships

    • We project it onto others and feel judged
  • The inner critic is prevalent in our society

    • Individualism and consumerism all contribute to its formation
    • Even if we are not very materialistic, the air we breathe favors the inner critic

How it Affects Practice

  • ”Should” comes into practice
    • Creates pressure
    • Removes intrinsic motivation
    • Takes the joy out of practice, it doesn’t feel like a gift
  • In reaction to the Inner Critic, we create the Inner Rebel
    • Pressures us to not practice anymore
    • Inner Rebel is a manifestation of a healthy life force
  • IC stifles questioning in practice and ability to play
    • It criticizes us when we get distracted, instead of allowing us to inquire
    • We need to accept distraction to inquire, but IC won’t let us
    • The only question IC allows us to ask is “Am I doing it right?”
      • Can we instead ask “How am I?”
      • Introduce kindness in practice

Ending the Inner Critic


  • The IC is just a mental habit of negative thinking
  • Practicing Metta we create new habits of thinking
    • Sow the seeds of kindness towards ourselves and all beings
  • When IC is very strong, the Metta phrases may seem ridiculous, fake
    • Over time this has tremendous effects
  • May be tempted to keep the Metta towards ourselves only
    • Directing Metta to all beings, we can’t help but be soaked into it
    • We do need love from others as well
      • Dharma culture focuses on everything coming from inside us
        • True on some levels, but love from others can also be extremely healing

Mindfulness (Kindness)

  • Can we let the IC be there?
    • Give it kindness and give it space
  • Instinctive reaction may be Aversion, wanting to get rid of it
    • The IC is a force of aversion, getting rid of aversion with aversion is like pouring gasoline on fire
  • Each criticism ends up creating some pain in the body
    • Can we be with it with kindness, warmth, care?

Mindfulness (Deconstruction)

  • The IC is a mix of feelings, thoughts, textures
  • We re-create and strengthen the IC in our minds everyday
    • Can we deconstruct them to each individual sensation and stay with each separately?
      • e.g. listen to the tone of the voice, feel the sensations in the heart
    • If we don’t “join the dots” we don’t give the IC the capacity to create vicious cycles

Questioning and Talking to the Inner Critic

  • Am I believing the Inner Critic?
    • Do I believe I am a bad person and I need to feel shame?
    • Do I believe I am a phony, and it’s only a matter of time before others find out?
  • Can I allow Great Doubt to come in?
  • Is this IC pattern giving me anything?
    • A feeling of familiarity perhaps?
    • Is it trying to protect me from something?
  • Can we try conversating with the IC?
    • Understand its fears, its instinctive behaviors, and perhaps we can re-assure him

Re-claiming our Power

  • Is meditation disconnecting us from our power?
  • The Inner Rebel, rebelling against the IC, is one manifestation of our power
    • Power to say no, that’s enough
  • How can we connect with our inner power?
    • Metta can feel powerful
    • Connecting with the feelings of energy in the body
    • Connecting with the Inner Rebel, and its images
    • Using the intellect, to question and outsmart the IC

Other Ways to Gradually Weaken the IC

Focusing on our Qualities

  • Not an ego trick
  • Culture pressures us to assess our success by worldy achievements
    • What would it be like to measure ourselves by how ethically we live?
    • Kindness, generosity etc… Qualities that our heart longs for

Living Rooted in our Deepest Desire

  • If we are living in accordance to what we truly desire, there will be less room for the comparing and judging mind to step in and bother us

Realizing Dependent Co-Arising

  • We are quick to blame and criticize our Self when we make a mistake or act unskillfully
  • We can learn to realize that all our actions are based on causes and conditions
    • Maybe you were stressed, tired etc…
  • WHere is the Self?


Created on: 2021-04-24 Inspired by: Rob Burbea Related: Psychology | Internal Family System (IFS)