2 Fear-Based Inner Critics That Come Up During Isolation & How To Tame Them

Psychologist By Athena Laz
Psychologist
Athena Laz is an NYC-based licensed psychologist and a leading voice on modern spirituality, specializing in the intersection of psychology and mysticism. Originally hailing from South Africa, Laz has degrees through the University of Witwatersrand and is licensed through HPCSA. Her work has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine and the South African Journal of Psychology.
Upset Woman on The Stairs of Her Building

We are going through so much as a collective right now. And at the same time, many of us are feeling totally alone. During these times of isolation, our inner critics have a way of becoming louder than ever.

The first step in quieting our inner critics is tuning into what they're trying to tell us when they spew out negative and fear-based statements. Your inner critic is the mouthpiece for the many different aspects of your psyche that require your attention, compassion, and healing. Here are two kinds of critics that I'm hearing about from many clients right now, what they could be trying to tell us, and how to start to alleviate their presence and find more self-compassion:

1. The anxious inner critic.

This inner critic can strike at any time. Perhaps you wake up to see that you've received another message from a family member or friend with even more bad news. Before you know it, you've spent 20 minutes reading an entire social media thread that has left you feeling knotted, nauseous, and anxious. On top of that, your inner critic is likely screaming: "I told you so! You are not safe! This was bound to happen."

Critical inner voices often morph to highlight internalized feelings of lack of security and nourishment. Stressful times shine a spotlight on these internalized feelings, heightening our general sense of anxiety.

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How to deal with it: Set boundaries to take back your sense of control.

You can learn to tame this inner critic and take back your ability to feel inner peace, even in stressful times, by setting healthy boundaries. Set boundaries with anything and everything that is triggering for you. That may mean consuming less coffee, watching less TV, staying off social media, or speaking to people that you trust about how you really feel. Taking these kinds of actions will show your inner critic that you are actually the one in charge.

2. The psychic inner critic.

Every time I have a thought about how devastating our collective future will surely be, I know that I'm dealing with this inner critic. This inner critic is not the voice of reason or common sense. It's also not your intuitive voice. No, this inner critic is the voice that knows exactly where it hurts and is unafraid to go there.

Taming this inner critic requires recognizing it for what it really is: Fear in disguise. When we witness our fears, we afford ourselves the opportunity to transform them for the better.

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How to deal with it: Tap into your own power to confront your fears.

This exercise will help you move your fears from the recess of your psyche into conscious awareness so they no longer have as tight of a hold on you:

  1. State the following out loud: "Today I will be witnessing fear. I am safe, in control, and ready to do this." 
  2. Allow the future that you fear to play out in front of you, reminding yourself that you are safe. Try to remain detached from the narrative that unfolds for you.
  3. When this projection is over, ask how it made you feel. See if you can identify the specific fears it triggered, and then voice these fears aloud. For example, you could say: "I am (your name), and I am fearful of (name your fear); it leaves me feeling (name your feelings)."
  4. Then, say the following statement aloud in whatever way feels comfortable to you. (Personally, I like to shout it!) "I am now ready to release these fears. I will not choose a fearful story. I choose peace, loving acceptance, and the ability to learn through love. And so it is."

As counterintuitive as it may sound, every single type of inner critic is actually trying to protect you from a perceived psychological or emotional threat. Digging into what those threats are is the key to long-lasting, positive change.

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