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Breaking Up With Your Inner Critic - Powerful Strategies To End One Relationship That Never Works

Written by: Dr. Adriana Popescu, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


As a licensed clinical psychologist, empowerment coach, addiction and trauma specialist, and director at a drug and alcohol rehab, I hear a lot about breakups. Relationships play such a fundamental role in the creation of our life and our happiness. When a heartbreak occurs, it can leave people with a sense of loss, grief, emptiness, and despair.

However, there is one breakup I actually encourage in my clients, a breakup that frees their creativity and gives them a space of peace and ease with themselves and others and that is a breakup with their inner critic.

What is an inner critic? An inner critic is that constant nagging voice telling you that you are wrong, not enough, or somehow lesser-than. The inner critic always looks at you and what you create through the lens of judgment. It’s that negative voice inside that squelches every great idea or inspiration and keeps you locked in a box of doubt, limitation, and suffering.

Do you have an inner critic?

What does that inner critic tell you and what does that create for you and your life?

What would a life without an inner critic be like?

The first step to freedom is to recognize where the inner critic comes from and how it gets created. We don’t come into this world judging and criticizing ourselves; it’s something we learn. In the latest episode of my podcast Kaleidoscope of Possibilities: Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health, I discuss this in the context of empowerment and how we come into this world as babies: happy, whole, and perfect, and are slowly “programmed” to judge ourselves and make ourselves wrong.

Some of us grew up with families, parents, teachers, or caregivers who judged us and then we internalized those voices and took over the job of criticizing ourselves. This constant state of criticism becomes our “comfort zone.” We then develop what is called in psychological terms a confirmation bias, from which we are constantly seeking information to prove to us the rightness of our self-criticism and judgment. We choose partners, spouses, bosses, and friends who have these same judgments and points of view about us and we see how they treat us as “proof” of our unworthiness. Some of us also buy the idea that without a harsh critic at our side we would be unmotivated to change and would never achieve or create anything. What if exactly the opposite is true? This brings me to the next step in the breakup process.

We have to recognize that judgment truly is the greatest source of human suffering. If you have read other articles from me or listened to my show or other work, you have heard me talk about this. Judgment isn’t even real; it’s an invention. We have to stop giving judgment value and power. It only creates limitations and destruction of ourselves and others. No one, and certainly no relationship, business, or endeavour, has ever become greater because of a judgment.

Science actually validates this, as we see in the water studies of Masaru Emoto and his book The Hidden Messages in Water. These and other research studies illustrate how consciousness and the vibration of our positive or negative energies and thoughts can actually change the form of water molecules, plants, and other living systems.

What are your judgments creating for you and your body? Take a moment to get present and ask yourself these questions. When you notice that critical inner voice, ask: Who am I being here? What is the value of choosing to criticize me? What is this creating and how is it making me feel?

And then you can ask another set of empowering questions: What would be possible if I was not judging? What’s right about me that I’m not getting? What other way is there to see me?

When the inner critic has a stronghold, one exercise I often use with clients is called “expanding out.” When we are expanded out, it is more difficult to stay in the heaviness of judgment and criticism. From the expanded-out space, you can have greater clarity and ease with what is actually real and true, and you don’t have to buy the lies of judgment. I have a quick expanding out exercise here on Soundcloud.

Another tool to use in this process is gratitude. Being grateful for you is a powerful way to break up with your inner critic. One of the principles of Access Consciousness®, (one of the many modalities I use with my clients), is that judgment and gratitude cannot exist simultaneously. So if you find yourself judging yourself or others, you can shift to gratitude instead. What can I be grateful for about myself? What can I be grateful for about this situation? What can I be grateful for about this person?

Finally, as with any breakup, I always recommend compassion, self-care, and kindness for you and your body. This can include being out in nature, practising yoga, taking time for meditation, doing breathing exercises, or engaging in other types of energy work. Additionally, spending time with someone who doesn’t judge you can also be incredibly nurturing to your body and soul. If you don’t have such a person, this could be an animal or pet. Animals don’t judge or criticize us and their energy of allowance can be very powerful and healing. Who or what could be the space of no-judgment for you?

In summary, when you maintain the relationship with your inner critic and judge and criticize yourself, you are being extremely unkind and even self-destructive. This can seem so normal in our world that we don’t even recognize when we are doing it. So please be patient with yourself and recognize that just as with a breakup with a person, the process of healing can take months or years. I know that if you make a commitment to ending your relationship with your inner critic you will have more peace and ease and a much greater sense of your true, authentic self which is essentially perfect and whole. Also, please know that you don’t have to do it all on your own. I highly recommend seeking the help of a qualified professional to provide you with tools, support, and guidance during these times of growth and change.

If you’d like to find out more about this topic, I’ll be hosting a free Facebook live on the topic on Wed. April 6th at 11 am PDT.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Adriana!


Dr. Adriana Popescu, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addiction, co-occurring disorders, and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Adriana has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world coaching and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She coauthored the Conscious Being, Conscious Recovery, and Conscious Creation Workbooks, and she hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health. She loves to empower people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.



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