The inner critic is a brute force, a totalitarian tyrant, lurking in the human psyche. It’s a primitive part of us that operates with the mentality of a psychopath. It harbors a capacity for evil.
Yet many mental-health practitioners tell their clients the inner critic can be subdued or neutralized by making concessions to it, compromising with it, and even befriending it.
No, do not cozy up to the inner critic. Doing so diminishes us. We must tame it, render it powerless, not compromise with it or befriend it.
The best approach is to befriend our authentic self, not our inner critic. Our authentic self is, in the language of depth psychology, our secular soul, the throne of goodness, wisdom, and power. We want our consciousness to unite with our authentic self. Its values are the opposite of the inner critic’s. How is compromise possible when values are diametrically opposed?
The inner critic, known in psychoanalysis as the superego, is a formidable inner foe, a true enemy within that is audacious and shameless. We can’t suppress it through willpower. We can, however, undermine and defeat it with correct self-knowledge.
In my past writing, I’ve called the inner critic a bully and a villain. Now I want to be more emphatic about its vile nature. Compromising with the inner critic is, at best, trying to compromise with inflexible irrationality. At worst, it’s messing with aggressive depravity. [Read more…]