Clearing the Clouds of the Inner Critic

I have the great privilege with my work to hear people’s stories and get to witness their vulnerable selves. In this often superficial world, where we tend to always show our best and most glamorous aspects even to our friends, not to mention Facebook, I want to jump for joy every time someone reveals something difficult or shares their “deep, dark secret” - which is often, “I have a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning.” I think it takes real courage to admit our struggles and name our feelings. Not to mention often when we do this, we take the power, the shame away from them. I can’t tell you how many times, someone revealed something that they were so ashamed of, often with a big build up, only for me to say, “Oh, that’s normal! I’ve heard that a lot.” Despite the amount of stories that I’ve heard, I am surprised when the person first reveals their “Itty Bitty Shitty Committee”. This is that part of them that says, “I am not worthy.” “I’m not pretty.” “My legs are too fat.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m not evolved enough.”

I’m not surprised because they have these. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t have an Itty Bitty Shitty Committee, even if they keep it really hidden.

What surprises me is the dialogue of their committee. Often, it is completely opposite of my perspective of them. For instance, a woman who is the kind of beautiful that could easily fit on the cover of a magazine, thinks she’s ugly. Or someone who literally has people lining up to hear her speak, thinks that she has nothing to share. Or someone whose work completely changes people’s lives, thinks she is worthless. Or a sweet, gentle, kind man thinks he is unworthy of Love.

For me, when I witness these, I feel the pain and I think, “What a waste!” I wonder how many hours or perhaps years, we tear ourselves apart based on some view of ourselves that is omitting our true Beauty.

There are numerous videos, books, articles, you name it focused on this inner critic. Through my work with my clients, students, and quite frankly, my own journey, I have discovered the following in regards to the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee:

1. We can change the inner dialogue. 2. This committee does not need to rule our lives. 3. We can use the inner critic as a tool to help us grow and heal. 4. There isn’t any shame in having a Committee.

1. We can change the inner dialogue.

Much of our inner dialogue comes from our culturalization, both from sharing this Earth with other imperfect humans and because it benefits the establishment to have you doubt your gifts. You are more likely to spend money on products you don’t need and less likely to overthrow the people in charge. Therefore, we can begin to listen to the dialogue and discern the roots and reasons for it. Once we understand why this particular critic is speaking, we can stop them through our healing work. For instance, perhaps your committee says, “Your arms are too fat.” Well, we can see that this comes from industries designed to have us doubt our beauty and buy their weight loss or other products. We can begin to focus on the gifts of our arms. What are you able to do and experience because of these incredible arms. We can even start thanking our arms throughout the day. “Thank you arms for helping me dig this hole.” “Thank you arms for allowing me to hold my baby.”

2. This committee does not need to rule our lives.

When our Committee kicks up, we can acknowledge it. This often takes the power away. “Yes, I don’t have anything interesting to say AND I’m going to say it anyway.” So acknowledge and continue on.

When we ignore or try to argue with the Committee, it gets louder and louder and uses any mistake to prove that it is right.

Years ago I assisted an herbalist. It became a joke that I could not put a label on straight. Often, I would make and bottle the products and she would label them. Several years ago, I was getting ready for my first vending at a conference. When I tried to label the bottles, I froze, my hands shook, and I cried. I kept hearing again and again, “You can’t even put them on straight!” And “No one is going to buy your Essences because the bottles are so ugly.” I knew I had a choice, I could give in, not put on the labels and not do the show. Or I could push through and label the bottles, crooked or not. So I labeled them. With each label I told myself, “It’s okay if I put labels on crooked. People want these for the incredible Spirit Essences inside.” I labeled over 400 Essences that night. I got to know this mantra well. As I started going forward, the voice quieted down and the labels got straighter. Now, I can label bottles without thinking about it and when I do put a label on crooked, I laugh.

3. We can use the inner critic as a tool to help us grow and heal.

When our inner critic starts up, we can get curious. Often this committee is demonstrating areas where we have been wounded in the past or areas where we have smothered our True Self in order to fit in. Other times this committee is expressing our limiting beliefs. And then there are times when the committee is encouraging us to be better (this does not mean perfect). All of these can be beneficial if we understand what is happening and then use this information in our healing journey.

4. There isn’t any shame in having a committee.

Many chastise themselves for having these inner critics, which only adds insult to injury. As I said, I have not met a person who doesn’t have an Itty Bitty Shitty Committee. I have had the great pleasure of interviewing many of my role models and mentors as well as other amazing leaders in this world and given time, they will mention their inner critic or not enoughs.

For now, it appears that having a committee is part of the human conditioning. So having one is not “bad” and as I’ve said, we can use this in our healing. It is important to remember (and we frequently need to remind ourselves) that the committee only represents one perspective. As loud and certain as it may seem, the committee does not represent absolute Truth. We can always shift our perspective and I invite you to do so.

When my clients start to work with their committee, I give them a little tool I learned from David Dalton of Delta Gardens. Every time you experience negative self-talk, pinch a spot on the back of your hand. Pinch the same spot throughout the day. At the end of the day, look at the mark. This gives you a glimpse of the energetic effect your thoughts are having on you, which can be eye opening. And can help us shift our language to one of Self Love.

There are, of course, many incredible Plants that can help us develop Self Love or heal the wounds or shift the limiting beliefs. One of my favorites for helping with Self Love is Sassafras. Rose is another wonderful ally, helping to soothe all our pains and guide us to living Love.

I also think it is important to flood our family, friends, and even strangers with Love, gratitude, and appreciation. Suicide rates, drug abuse, anxiety, and depression are all on the rise. I am not saying that if we flood our Loved ones, this will solve everything. However, it can brighten someone’s day, perhaps even affect them for life.

Remember as Ram Das said, “We’re all just walking each other Home.” We can do this lovingly.

Life is difficult and painful and filled with astounding Beauty. When we can clear the clouds from our committee, the Beauty pours in and we shine our Lights a little brighter.

There has been enough war. We know it doesn’t really get us anywhere. So now, we can try a different paradigm of Love and start by Loving ourselves.

“You have suffered enough And warred with yourself It's time that you won”

~ From “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova