Inner Critic Karma

Although in hindsight it’s quite obvious, it occurred to me the other day that the same “Inner Critic” in our heads (that stream of incessant thoughts always judging everyone around us) is also the same voice we use to judge, criticize and condemn ourselves.

This made me think that perhaps if we learned to tame the severity of that voice when it comes to others, we might end up helping ourselves by cultivating a more gentle and understanding Inner Critic. 

I’ve read that we are far more harsh with our criticism of ourselves than we are with others. The general rule of thumb is the question “Would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself?” when it comes to not meeting a goal, or dealing with circumstances or (so-called) “failure”.

It would seem that by training our Inner Critic to be more forgiving, less quick to condemn, and to have more compassion when it comes to the instantaneous evaluation of strangers, perhaps we will receive a small benefit of this more enlightened judge when that voice is focused upon ourselves.

In a way, this made me think of the concept of karma. I’ve come to understand the concept of karma as simply “cause and effect” — your actions have consequences.

The manner in which we filter the world through the often harsh lens of the Inner Critic ends up creating the same impossible to please judge with which we berate ourselves.

Not only do we then perceive the world through this negative perspective, that warped view is then used to perceive (and judge) ourselves. The consequences of our actions in a very direct and straightforward way have come back to us.

Each criticism that arises is another reinforcement of the voice which will turn it’s attention towards you eventually, and ten-fold. I think we’d all be smart to cultivate a kinder and more understanding version of that voice.

4 thoughts on “Inner Critic Karma”

  1. Seems like meditation could help with this. The exercise of differentiating the “observer from the observed” would likely help to keep awareness of when the inner critic is doing it’s thing. I find that I often times get lost in that inner critic’s thought process, almost like it takes over and all I can see are potential negative outcomes to any task that I might be planning on taking on. One on hand it is good to consider the negative outcomes of a particular activity. Doing so can (obviously) help you avoid pitfalls. But the problem is, for me and probably for a lot of people, is that the negativity of the inner critic takes over completely. I almost equate it to causing a sort of “analysis paralysis”, where I’m so critical of my abilities, or chance of success that I take no action whatsoever. I’m not sure if you were talking about inner critic in regards to projects/activities, or inner critic in regards to self-awareness/understanding, but I guess the two are related. Being overly-critical of yourself (myself) can stop you from even considering making positive moves in your life. This is definitely one of my struggles. I have noticed when I’m feeling generally positive, that life seems to be easier. I have more energy for the things I like to do, and am more willing to try new things. When I’m feeling pretty negative (which unfortunately is WAY more of the time) then my energy is almost non-existent, and I tend to become a couch potato, ruminating over failures, and talking myself out of making changes in my life. It’s one of my goals with meditation to be able to first identify when that’s happening, and second to be able to dissociate myself from that inner critic.

    1. Without a doubt, meditation is the biggest help in toning down the severity and frequency of the Inner Critic.

      But meditation primarily helps one achieve that state of third-party perspective (observing your thought process) so you can notice the Inner Critic has taken over.

      I suppose this “Inner Critic Karma” concept is an additional tool to help tone down the harshness towards yourself by conditioning that voice when it judges others. A bit of selfish altruism there.

      A little bit of self-help, and a little bit of making the world a better place.

      And I should clarify that the Inner Critic isn’t necessarily the same analytical thought process involved in making decisions. But that Inner Critic voice can definitely rise up and influence the thought process of analyzing decisions.

      But in a sense, the Inner Critic does influence the way we perceive the world. A harsh critic fosters a negative worldview.

      This was my thought about the “karma” of the Inner Critic — that we live in whatever world we cultivate which in turn is influenced by the type of Inner Critic we cultivate. This is in addition to how we treat (and talk to) ourselves.

      So in a very direct way, the type of Inner Critic (judgmental thought process) we cultivate influences the perspective we have on the world and ourselves.

      Since we use that same voice for both our judgments of ourselves as well as others, the way we treat others — even just in our private thoughts — has a direct influence on our experience of the world and our image of ourselves.

      I see meditation as just one tool to help with this Inner Critic stuff. I think it brings you to the awareness of it all taking place, and gives you the ability to dis-identify with those thoughts.

      The speculation in this post was a next step, trying to find a way to help tone down the severity once meditation has brought you to the threshold of awareness.

      In other words, meditation helps bring you to realization about your thought processes. Once you are at that point, there’s a lot of work left to do. I’m sure meditation will continue to help with that, but I thought this post might also be a tool to assist with it all.

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