Over three years ago I became involved in my first mom group. A drama free group with positive, uplifting women who have the same shared goal; to raise our babies the best as we can, be the best mothers we can and have a village behind us for the good, the bad, the celebrations and the heartbreak. Every once in a while we would share some things that challenged us not just as mothers, but to dig deep in who we are as individuals. So, this blog is birthed from the work shared by my dear friends Ashley and Erica.
Last month, my friend shared the podcast episodes “Inner Critic Pt. 1” and “Inner Critic Pt. 2” in our mom group community by Rachel Brathen (Inner Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl). If you are reading this, I promise this is not just a mom focused thing so don’t let me lose you. We discussed these shared podcasts from the lens of “what does your inner critic say?” and “what does your inner best friend say?” The results? Women poured their hearts out and later were able to see how similar they were to those around them but also women were able to see how other people see them… because of course our inner critic tells us a distorted reality.
As a mental health provider it was also eye opening for me. I don’t tend to use these terms; the critic vs the best friend. I have used textbook terms, buzz words, “positive/negative self talk” but nothing as clear and as simplified as this. This new view humanized those parts; the critic and best friend within all of us. Since this work, I have made it a mission to use these terms instead. Now I can’t share what others have shared but as a human first I can say that I was surprised at how much just looking at our negative thoughts vs positive thoughts from this re-frame challenged me, opened me up and made me come face to face with realities I didn’t know how to express previously. It was hard! I also noticed that when I speak to other people I speak from my “inner best friend,” the kind helper… and how when it comes to me it is so hard to do the same.
As a therapist, I try very hard to practice what I preach but I will admit that the homework I assign to those I sit with isn’t always easy for me. It doesn’t come naturally even if the way I communicate it makes it seem seamless; I wish it were. Many of us question whether we are doing something right. Is it good enough? Am I setting my kid up for success? Is my child’s delay due to something I did? Am I lovable? Does my partner love me? Am I worthy of these relationships? That, my friends, is the critic. Yes, I think that as humans we should evaluate our decisions and challenges some thoughts but when they become overwhelming to our day to day knowing of ourselves… that is when that critic is speaking. The critic is also the one that tells you things to make you feel less than… like an inner bully. “You suck. You’re worthless. Not good enough. You are a failure. You aren’t smart enough. No one cares”. The inner best friend is supportive and loving and kind- the encourager.
So, I have homework for you….
Speak to yourself from your inner best friend. Be kind to yourself.
You can find more information about “the inner critic vs the inner best friend” by exploring Rachel Brathen’s website, her podcast, blog or one of her many books (Rachelbrathen.com).