One of the more common topics of discussion on several PTSD/CPTSD web pages and posts is about the Inner Critic. That little voice in your head that keep pointing out and dwelling on every mistake ever made by that person.
Someone on Facebook posted this image about criticism…
This is what I do to myself. I can do 100 good things in a day but the slightest simplest error is the one remembered and nag myself about. My counselor attempted to help me see past this barrage of insults coming from within myself. He had me do one kind thing every day for a week. I was to record my experience the rules were, the thing I did couldn’t take more than 5 minutes or cost more than 50 cents. I did my week….he asked me what I learned from it. “I’m not doing enough kind things, I can do more to be kind to others.” I watched him stare at me a bit dismayed that I totally missed the point. I was supposed to learn that I do nice things for others. My inner critic could make a negative out of even the nicest assignments. It is like a waterfall of toxicity that I pour over myself.
Poisoning myself is not unique to PTSD or CPTSD what it does do is making healing so much harder. I reject compliments, distrust hands extended in friendship and basically makes my life really difficult. I listed some articles that popped up when I did a search for inner critic. I tried these. Here is an interesting thing, I am really stubborn about putting myself down. I picked up where my abusers left off in hurting me. It is hard and I am my hardest critic. What to do? A few techniques my counselor taught me:
Journal about it and write examples of how that what the critic says is not true.
Reframing an incident is taking my perspective and changing it to a totally different view…my counselor recommended listening to myself and write a note as if I was writing a note to one of my kids or a dear friend. What would I say to them? He was right. I am much nicer to my kids and friends. I took this one step further and envisioned myself as my friend. (The snide remark popped into my head, “Friends like that who needs enemies?”) I shake my head and remind myself that I am a nice person, I do kind things for others, and I can be nice to me too.
My sister tried to outlast her inner critic by egging it on with, “Is that the best you can come up with?” In the process discovered that it was like a loop the same old things over and over.
Another thing I tried was trying to remember when some of those insults started….many back in my earliest memories from childhood. Funnily enough, I realized some were fairly accurate at the time. One of the insults laid at my door, “Lights are on but nobody is home.” That is probably the best description I ever had of living with multiple personalities. But many were false lies used to hurt me, many times on purpose.
One of the things my counselor encouraged was to finally learn to love myself. It was a theme I picked up years before but didn’t know how to put it into practice. People throw out Love thy neighbor from the scriptures but cut off, AS THYSELF. I am learning to love myself. When I start to call myself a name or put me down I start asking questions? Is what you are saying True? Is it kind? Is it helpful? In the process, I learned that the inner critic will lie, is cruel, and helping is the last thing on its agenda. I work at separating myself from the unkind flow of words. Those criticism are not who I am or who I am striving to be. They are stumbling blocks that need to be flipped over to become stepping stones. I deserve happiness, I am lovable, I can over come hard challenges, I am kind, I want to help others, I often help others when I am able, I can take every single thing my inner critic says to me and flip it over to what I can become.
Other articles and ideas to try: