The Inner Critic and Self Love: How to Be an Ally to Yourself
Below is a transcription of this video.
Hey there I’m Tripp Lanier. For over 12 years I’ve spent thousands of hours coaching folks to get out of the rat race, become an authority in their field, and make a great living doing the work they were put on this earth to do. And for more than a decade, I’ve hosted The New Man Podcast which has been downloaded millions of times and can be found on iTunes or Stitcher.
If you’re like me you’ve probably got a voice in your head that just loves to beat up on yourself. It doesn’t seem to matter what you’ve accomplished, this voice still finds a way to exploit the places where we’re not enough.
The really sad thing is that I’ve experienced some great moments in my life, and this voice will be the thing — if I let it — to rob me of the joy and love in those moments. And I’m certainly not alone. I see this a lot. I’ve worked with some people that others may consider to be very successful who are haunted by this inner critic that never allows them to enjoy their lives.
Some folks are so hypnotized by this voice that they’re proud of this part of themselves that makes them miserable. They’re proud of the long hours and the endless amounts of bullshit and drama and self neglect they tolerate. They wear it like a badge of honor until they’re exhausted and wondering why they feel so empty and miserable. In fact, I would wager that most of the folks we put on a pedestal are haunted by this voice and a never-ending need to prove that they’re enough.
The voice tells us that the only way we’ll be happy is to constantly do more, be better, look better — you name it. In other words, it has us believe that who we are now is unacceptable but — and this is a big but — someday in the future we could be. We really believe there’s a point when this voice will surrender and say, “Yes! You’ve done it! You’re finally worthy of love and acceptance and peace and freedom!”
Which is bullshit. It’s a trap. No matter what we accomplish or how we look or what we can afford, this part of us will never be satisfied. The inner critic’s sole purpose for existing is to find shit to criticize. And he’s not going to retire any time soon. We’re always going to have an inner critic, so the opportunity here is to learn how to keep him in check.
I had the pleasure of coaching Kamal Ravikant a while back. He wrote a wonderful book call Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. In the book he reveals the process he went through as one of his businesses failed and he was overcome with self doubt and criticism. And then he talks about how he found his power and mojo by simply acknowledging that underneath all of that self criticism, he actually loved himself. He would repeat the statement, “I love myself” over and over and over again throughout the day. And this practice helped him keep the self critic out of the driver’s seat of his life and work.
Now, I’ve shared this story with my clients many times and I inevitably get the “Yeah, okay. Right” treatment. So many of us have so much resistance to this simple statement of “I love myself”. I struggle to maintain this practice even though it’s so simple.
Which is why I want to share a little adjustment that helps me when I get into a dark place. When our inner critic and low self worth are driving our actions, we are not allies to ourselves. We do shitty things to ourselves. We rob ourselves of opportunities because we’re not good enough. We keep moving the finish line because we don’t think we’ve done enough. We beat ourselves up because we didn’t do it perfectly. We betray ourselves, we don’t keep our word to ourselves because we don’t think we deserve it. We withhold joy and pleasure because we haven’t proven that we’re X enough.
And this cycle of shitty behavior sets us up to hate ourselves. It keeps us in a cycle where we continue to injure ourselves. After all — If I’ve been betraying myself, why would I love myself? If I don’t believe what I say, why would I love myself? If I’ve been withholding joy and pleasure, why would I love myself?
So let’s pivot. Let’s ask ourselves, “What would I do if I was an ally to myself?” This doesn’t ask us to believe anything. It simply means that we zero in on the choices we’re making so that we can be an ally instead of an enemy.
It means we take care of our bodies without berating how we look. It means we take time to play while also taking care of our responsibilities. It means we take time to celebrate the things we set out to do. It means we see ourselves as human instead of someone who has to be perfect all the time. It means we dust ourselves off and get back in the game when we take a hit. It means we set a boundary and say “no more!” when that inner critic is trying to bully us.
Being an ally means we know we have flaws and shortcomings. Being an ally doesn’t mean we overlook these things. It simply means we deal with it and move on instead of turning it into another reason to stick a knife in our own back.
This is how we break the cycle of self injury. This is how we build trust and appreciation and love for ourselves. This is how we reclaim our lives instead of pissing them away trying to prove that we’re worthy to a phantom in our head.
And I also want to name that we have to be careful not to turn this practice into yet another reason to beat ourselves up. “Dammit! I’m not being an ally to myself! I’m such a loser!”
I’ve found the best approach is to find the humor in this craziness and simply get back to doing what an ally would do.
Now just watching this video isn’t going to make the change. You’ve gotta practice this daily if you want a different experience. Start small. Commit to an hour of treating yourself like an ally. Then commit to a day. If you fail, no big deal. Find the humor, and just get back in the game.
That’s the process. It’s not easy. But it is possible.