By Joanna Kleinman, LCSW
I have been a psychotherapist for over 25 years, and I have been on my own personal growth journey for over 30 years. In the thousands of clients I have seen throughout my career, one thing I know is that most people are not experiencing the joy, contentment and happiness that they so desperately desire.
And what most people tell themselves they need, or what they must do to be happy, ends up producing more frustration than joy. I have spent the last 30 years studying what it truly means to live a content and fulfilling life.
Most people think it is their life circumstances that determine how they feel. If they just lose weight, find the right career, find their soulmate, get divorced, reach that goal, that will be the thing that will make them feel good about themselves.
So, most people spend years, even decades, trying to fix, change or perfect either themselves or their circumstances so that they can feel happy. Or they spend years trying to fix or change someone else, or win approval from other people so they can feel happy.
But here is something that most people don’t know. It is never the circumstances themselves, but it is our thoughts about the circumstances that determine how we feel.
In our culture, we are not taught HOW to think. We are taught to work towards happiness through our goals, our achievements, our accomplishments. We are taught to make sure that other people see us as successful and accomplished. And the more we push ourselves to find our happiness outside ourselves, the more our lives are filled with anxiety, turmoil and discontent.
In fact, our wants and desires are so seductive, that we are actually convinced that we NEED to fix or change ourselves or some part of our lives before we can feel good.
What many people don’t realize is that they have been listening to their inner critic (IC) for their whole lives, and mistaking the voice of their IC for themselves. Let’s define what I mean by your Inner Critic.
Your IC is the voice in your mind that speaks to you all day long and tells you where you’re not good enough, what you need to fix, change, manage, control or perfect. Most people wake up in the morning and they begin the day by thinking about their problems.
That is the voice of your IC. And the moment your IC starts talking, every one of those thoughts causes you to feel certain emotions, like anxiety, unhappiness or feeling discouraged. Your thoughts come from your automatic mind. You don’t tell your mind what to think. It just thinks for you.
Learning how to MASTER your mind is one of the single most important things you can do in your life. Why is that? Because everything you do in your life begins with a thought.
Your thoughts create your emotions, and your emotions determine your actions. And the actions you take determine how your life unfolds. You need a thought to initiate an action.
So the challenge is that if you keep thinking the same thoughts, you become hard wired to think the same thoughts over and over, day in and day out. Then these thoughts produce chemical reactions in your brain that create the same emotions over and over.
Unfortunately, your IC is not going anywhere. The voice of your IC is automatic, and has been with you for forever. You can't ever get rid of the conditioned and habitual thoughts of your IC--you can’t silence it, banish it, or get rid of it.
Changing your life is NOT about calming the mind, changing your thoughts, or adjusting your attitudes. Change occurs when you learn to actually shift the location of your mind, into a newly rewired mind, the moment you catch your IC speaking to you. You can develop the capacity to see who you really are when you stop listening to your IC.
When you learn to think in a way that creates different emotions like peace, contentment, and gratitude, you have the power to rewire a completely different mind and awaken to your full potential as a human being.
The MOST powerful life you can live is when you know the difference between the two.
Dethroning Your Inner Critic is about learning exactly how to unhook from your IC’s incessant thoughts.
When you know that you are separate from the voice of your IC, you can learn to take guidance from a completely new, rewired mind.
When you learn step by step how to Dethrone Your Inner Critic, you are able to shift out of your old mind that makes you feel not good enough, alienated, alone, anxious, and fearful, and into a new mind that is already calm, alert, loving, and wise.