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.