Much suffering is produced through our relationship with our inner critic. This part of our psyche is also called the superego or self-aggression. It’s an authoritarian aspect or agency in our psyche that holds us accountable for any real or imagined shortcomings or failures. The inner critic is an offshoot of the natural aggression that humans have needed in order to survive in the world.
Not only does it hold us accountable, our inner critic harasses and torments us for our slightest shortcomings or misdemeanors. It is a rogue operator in our psyche that is mostly negative. It attacks us mercilessly for not living up to some unrealistic ideal of who or what we are supposed to be.
This inner tyrant has been called “the hidden master of the personality.”
It can feel to us that our inner critic is our moral conscience, as if it is an inner authority that we are supposed to trust and be passive to. But it is mostly negative and can’t be trusted. When we grow psychologically, we are able to shift inner authority over to our authentic self. It is this self that we can trust to represent our best interests and to be the true representative of our essence, integrity, and goodness.
When we are failing to check the power of the inner critic, we absorb its aggression, criticism, and negativity. We then become more negative in our relationship with others, and we are quick to criticize and judge them harshly, as well as ourselves. As long as we are assimilating or absorbing the negativity that the inner critic directs at us, we are compelled to be critical or judgmental of someone or something.
This negativity fills our mind with poisonous thoughts and feelings that we direct outward toward others or inward toward ourself. These negative thoughts and feelings produce much suffering for us in the form of stress, anxiety, resentment, cynicism, anger, depression, and hatred.
When we become stronger on an inner level, we are able to “zap” or neutralize the negative, irrational offerings of the inner critic. In this process of inner growth, we bring into focus our inner passivity. This passivity in our psyche is an enabler of the inner critic. Our inner passivity allows the inner critic to get away with its abuse of us.
The great conflict in the human psyche is between inner aggression and inner passivity. Our liberation from this conflict is achieved through study of our psyche, the process that produces self-knowledge and leads to self-discovery.