Have you ever been at a social event and found yourself feeling more and more uncomfortable or deflated as time wore on?
Perhaps you found yourself seeking an exit route or feigning tiredness to escape early.
You might even decide not to go in the first place to avoid the anticipated embarrassment and anxiety.
If this sounds familiar, it could be that the inner critic was in the driving seat and on red alert.
The inner critic cares SO very much what other people think – and you can be sure that whatever you do or say, you will never quite measure up in its eyes.
It will do anything to try to protect you from “other people ” in a misguided bid to keep you safe.
Yet if we can learn to move beyond its messages, connections can be so much richer, meaningful and fulfilling.
The Inner Critic is the voice that does a lot of comparing, judging and controlling our behaviour in social situations. It might happen at work where the inner critic is keen to keep reminding us how much better our colleague is doing.
It could be when we are with new friends and the inner critic's voice creeps in to tell us how much smarter, funnier, kinder, more successful they are than us.
Or it could go on the rampage as you are chatting with another parent, pointing out just how poor a job you are doing.
In social situations, the inner critic tends to bring along its friend, the “story-teller,” who always seems to know exactly what all those unnamed people out there are thinking about you. “Nooo! Don't do that – they'll think you're desperate and you'll never have any friends again, EVER!” it warns.
The scenarios in which the inner critic can undermine us socially are endless and can prevent us from reaching out and connecting. I used to have a strong aversion to networking events and speaking in public. Whenever I considered the idea, the inner critic would raise its head and begin listing all the reasons why I couldn't and shouldn't.
While networking may never be my favourite activity, I have found ways of not letting the inner critic stop me in my tracks.
Gently but firmly letting go of the comments as they arise, loving self-acceptance and releasing ideas of who I think I am all help. As that deepens over time, the inner critic's comments fade and the defences begin to crumble, leaving room for a truer, less conditional connection with others.
Recognising where the inner critic is holding you back from forming meaningful connections is the first step in becoming less identified with it.
There are many other small steps that can help loosen the inner critic's over-protective grip.
As as this begins to happen, our whole perception of the world begins to change too.
If you'd like to transform your relationship with the inner critic, why not come on the workshop I'm running on November 24. To find details of this plus information on the six week course, visit:https://www.themindpool.co.uk/events
Take a look at my other blog on the inner critic on this page.