Visualize Your Horrible Inner Critic – Part 2
Here we are then in the second part of the Horrible Inner Critic (HIC) Visualization process. This is where we can have a bit of fun with our HIC. If you’ve not read Part 1 yet, please do take a look at that first – especially if you’d like to benefit from the full power of this anti-negative thinking strategy.
So, a quick recap of Part 1 – I described how we can allow our mind’s-eye to bring up its own vivid and unique picture of our Horrible Inner Critic. We noted the difference between its voice and our own more positive everyday ‘inner-voice’. Then we allowed our imagination to show us where our HIC ‘lives’, its size, how it looks, dresses and even how it smells. This first part of the visualization process can significantly weaken our negative thinking, leaving space for more helpful, positive thoughts.
But there’s more we can do! Let’s continue the story of how I work with clients to help quieten negative thinking. If you’d like to follow the process for yourself, cast your mind’s-eye back to your image of your Horrible Inner Critic. Please remember the cautions in Part 1. Ok? Then let us begin.
Horrible Inner Critic – Imaginative Fun
So far, we’ve sent our imagination on a voyage of discovery and observation. Now we can become more active. We can have some imaginative fun with the picture of our HIC. This process may seem trivial and perhaps rather whacky. But it has the potential to make us smile at ourselves and at our Horrible Inner Critic, and to transform our attitude towards our negative thoughts – from one of fear and acceptance, into something much more light-hearted and powerful.
Shrinking Your Horrible Inner Critic
Having asked my client to ‘find’ their Horrible Inner Critic and hold the image in their mind, I’ll now ask if they can make their HIC a little bit bigger. Did they manage that? Yes, they did. Okay. So now take it back to its original size – no problem. And now shrink it down a little… and a little more…down to half its previous height… and keep going further still – to a quarter size. Again, this usually happens easily.
You – If it feels appropriate, follow the same process – make your HIC a little larger, back down, and down, down to one-quarter size.
Now the client has an image of a very titchy Horrible Inner Critic – and it was pretty small to begin with. How do HICs respond to this? Let me tell you, they aren’t happy about it, often stamping their little feet and shaking their tiny fists, and maybe squeaking out their displeasure.
A Demonstration of our Power
At this point it’s worth noticing what’s just happened. Because without realizing it, the client has just demonstrated that they have a lot more power over their Horrible Inner Critic, and by extension, over their negative thoughts, than they had previously assumed. And we don’t have to stop just by shrinking our HIC down – if we want to, we can take it further.
We can do whatever we want.
Poor Little Horrible Inner Critic
You know, if we forget all the crap and negativity that our HIC throws at us it’s easy to start feeling sorry for it at this point. After all, if part of what we’re trying to do is personify our negative thoughts – to imagine the source as a character, a personality in its own right, do we really want to get nasty with it?
Well, my own view is that regardless of how nasty our HIC can be to us, we’re probably better off avoiding nastiness in return. I’ve already mentioned in earlier posts that our aim is to take our negative thoughts way less seriously. I think that treating our HIC with venom and cruelty is taking it seriously – and taking our HIC seriously risks giving it power rather than recognising its weaknesses.
So, if a client feels strongly that what they want to do next is stamp on their pre-shrunk HIC and grind it into the floor, then fair enough – that does work for some people. But I’ve found that the lightly humorous route works better for most of us.
Here are a few ideas of what might work for clients and perhaps for you.
- Stick a big red nose on your HIC and some even bigger clown feet then… custard pie!
- Shrink your HIC down and stick it in a match box
- Hit him on the head with a giant comedy mallet
- Tickle it into submission
Some people want to distract their HIC with kindness
- Give it some toys to play with
- Or give it a big hug
- Or a slap-up dinner
- Or put it in a hot-tub with a boat to play with
There’s no reason at all why you can’t do all of the above (not all at once, obviously). Even better – think up some stuff of your own. Let your imagination run free and see what happens.
I give my Horrible Inner Critic a big ice-cream Sundae, because he’s based on a film character who was greedy for ice-cream. On the rare occasions he gets too persistent, I also have a rather more wicked treatment for him – but more of that some other time.
Horrible Inner Critic Likes and Dislikes
Yes, my Horrible Inner Critic likes ice-cream. You might be thinking here that I’m entering some new level of weirdness. Actually, all I’m doing is allowing my visualization to be as complete as possible. And I’m not worrying about, or censoring, the quirks of my imagination. If our imagination provides quirky likes or dislikes for our Horrible Inner Critic, especially if that quirkiness delights and amuses us – then go for it. If not, fine – we can manage quite well without such level of detail.
The bottom line is this: once we’ve successfully achieved an unthreatening image as the source of our negative thoughts, we’re well on our way to freeing ourselves from the power of those thoughts.
Letting Your Horrible Inner Critic Emerge More Slowly
What I’ve described here is a guided visualization process that often takes only a few minutes to complete. However, there is a slower alternative that can be equally effective, and that’s to allow your imagination to do its work more gradually, over days, or even a couple of weeks. Understanding the process described above and in Part 1 can act as a guide for your imagination, but you’re not asking it for an immediate answer.
A Horrible Inner Critic Under Control
Either way, what we end up with is a HIC persona that we don’t have to be afraid of. As we get to know our Horrible Inner Critic better we can even build a relationship with it –a relationship where we have far more control. We can get to know its tricks, its strategies, when it’s most likely to show up and try to cause trouble. Most of all we can learn when to listen (sometimes it does have a point) and when to wave it away and carry on.
What this all adds up to is a life and mind largely unfettered by negative thoughts – a life and mind that’s much more open to opportunities for achievement and happiness.
We can laugh away our Horrible Inner Critic.
Your comments are welcome. I’d love to hear the details about your own unique Horrible Inner Critic.