Address Your Inner Critic: A Journey Towards Self-Compassion | Neha Modi | Skillshare

Address Your Inner Critic: A Journey Towards Self-Compassion

Neha Modi, Mindful Artist & Content Creator

Address Your Inner Critic: A Journey Towards Self-Compassion

Neha Modi, Mindful Artist & Content Creator

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11 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:05
    • 2. Class + Project Overview

      2:26
    • 3. Name the Voice

      4:05
    • 4. Hear the Voice

      2:12
    • 5. Open Up About It

      2:08
    • 6. Cheer Squad Jar

      3:15
    • 7. Gather Evidence

      3:34
    • 8. Facts v/s Fiction: Analyze & Revise

      5:31
    • 9. Self-Compassion Playlist

      3:58
    • 10. Release: Let It Go

      1:55
    • 11. Final Thoughts

      1:50
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About This Class

In this class, we’ll be taking an honest look at the stories we tell ourselves. We all have things we need to improve, though when your Inner Voice is taken over by the Inner Critic, opportunities for self-improvement are obfuscated by narratives of self-doubt and inadequacy. Developing self-compassion is the process of reevaluating how we speak with ourselves. It’s a practice of radical self honesty. There’s no shortcut to reach this stage, but there are some steps we can take to empower ourselves and give an appropriate reply to these harsh internal dialogues. 

This class is divided into a series of creative exercises to help you deal with your Inner Critic, and embark on a journey of self-compassion. We’ll go through the process of: 

  • Externalizing the Inner Critic, and listening to its criticism objectively 
  • Evaluating these narratives, and discerning fact from fiction
  • Challenging and reframing the criticism with evidence and self-compassion
  • Accurately assessing your abilities and own your accomplishments
  • Strengthening your inner nurturer will the help of external “positive voices”

This class is suitable for anyone whose daily routine is filled with insecurities and self-critical thoughts. All you need to take this class is a pen, a piece of paper, and a bit of patience to look at yourself differently. 

When we aren’t ruled by the Inner Critic, we can get to the end of a week and simply relax and reflect kindly on what we did rather than dwelling on what went wrong. We can look ourselves in the mirror without pointing flaws and really appreciate ourselves. We can treat failures as just failures and not as a catastrophe. We can stop looking for approval from others and realize that even with all our quirks we are ever evolving human beings, and we are good enough. 

If your inner critic is holding you back from leaping forward, it’s time we loosen its grip, and let yourself loose! Let’s start this journey! 

Meet Your Teacher

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Neha Modi

Mindful Artist & Content Creator

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Transcripts

1. Introduction : One of the most powerful things that we can do is to learn to pause, listen, and question the stories we are telling ourselves. It's only then we can reframe the exaggerated and outdated blame and shame plot lines and tell ourselves an empowering story; a story that is not shaped by the limitations of our past and the expectations of others, but by the true essence of who we are in the present and what we truly desire. Hi. I'm Neha Modi, an artist and illustrator based in Amsterdam. A lot of what I do is about turning art into play, into a non-judgmental process, and simplifying it as a way to practice mindfulness. During my quest to understand the inner critic, I have come to realize that I'm not alone and that most of us can be quite critical of ourselves. We have some variations of, I'm not good enough, I should have done more, what if I fail again, I'm never going to achieve that, and et cetera replaying in our minds. Now the criticism and doubts may look big and loud, but in reality, they are much smaller compared to the light, the possibility, and the self-compassion you have within you. That is what we are going to unearth in this class. Through the medium of writing exercises, downloadable activity sheets, and tons of examples, I will share the steps that have helped me. During the course of the class, we'll externalize the inner critic, listen deeply to the things it tells us and open up about it. We will refill the positive voices and gather evidence to question the inner critic and figure out what's fact and what's fiction. By the end of this class, you will be equipped to deal with the messages that inner critic is conveying and release the criticism that has been holding you back. If all of this sounds good, join me in the class. 2. Class + Project Overview: Hello and welcome. Thank you for joining me in this class. Now the class may seem little daunting, but I can assure you that disempowering the inner critic is going to be a very liberating experience. Then the ANT rule by the inner critic, we can look ourselves at the middle without pointing flaws. We can appreciate the efforts that we are putting. We can go for the opportunities that we are really longing for, and we can realize that we are good enough. Now, the intention of this class is not to completely shun the inner critic, because honestly, that's not possible. But we can learn to turn down its volume, reframe the words, and give more play time to nurturing and compassionate voices. Now, I'm excited that I'm getting a chance to share this with you, guys. Now, as this is based on my personal experience, some of these steps might resonate with you and some not. But I encourage you to go through all of them as they flow nicely into each other, and later you can decide which ones you want to adapt to and which not. Each lesson in this class, includes an exercise, space to reflect, and lot of tips to get you started. Check the resource section to access all the prompts and exercises. As this class is like a process, a mindset shift, some of these activities may take one hour or some might take quite a few days. So do it at your own pace and take breaks as and when required. The materials you need for this class are already there with you. You need things like pen, paper, marker, glass shot, and along with that, some patience, curiosity, and compassion. As this class navigates a lot into the personal territory, for your projects, you can share as much as you are comfortable with. The point of this class is to give you tool kit that can help you transform criticism into compassion. You can share your experiences or you can share some of the glimpses from your tool kit. Things like the name of your inner critic, the pictures of your 'cheer squad' jar, your 'evidence folder', the revised facts action plan, or your self-compassion playlist. Let's dive in. Next up is our first lesson, which is about naming the inner critic. 3. Name the Voice : Most of us have become so conditioned to the critical inner voice that we just assume that it is our regular run of the mill inner voice. We stop questioning it. We stop noticing the facts behind the criticism and just assume it as truth even though it is far away from it. We think it is our own voice, our conscious, but the truth is, it is an accumulation of all the voices that we have heard and absorbed from childhood to adulthood. It can be the voice of a well-meaning but critical parent. The teacher who seemed impossible to please, the classmate who called us names, the coach who always screamed the overbearing boss, the nagging aunt, the reactions we got when we failed, the unrealistic comparisons by society, the perfect standards blasted on full volume on social media and so on. The critical opinions of these outer voices about our appearance, about a weight, achievements, relationships, how we should be, how we shouldn't be after being repeated time and again, mostly in our vulnerable moments, slowly became our own voice and how we relate to ourselves. Now do take the ring back from the inner critic, we need to distance ourselves from all these critical outer voices. We need to remind ourselves that we are not our inner critique. We need to see it as a character, and the first step in personifying it is by naming it. Naming helps in creating a space between ourselves and the critical thoughts and looking at them more objectively. When we associate a name with the inner critic, it is no longer us saying the mean stuff, it changes from I'm not enough to Mr. critique is saying that you are not enough. This little shift makes the comments external and thus easier to deal with. Now this exercise may seem silly, and the chances are that your inner critic is already telling you that this is ridiculous. It is not going to work, but just give it a try. It has worked for me and I hope it might work for you too. I call my inner critic Mewtoo. I came across the name while reading Pokemon encyclopedia with my son. It's a very powerful and quite an angry Pokemon created by humans, and it is without a compassionate heart. Overall it fits quite well with my inner critic. Now it is your turn to name your inner critic. It could be based on a person you have encountered in your real life, a character from a movie or a book or a TV show. You can mix adjectives and titles to form a name. You can use abstract or natural elements that you associate with these voices. You can get name references from animals, cartoon characters, or something that is based on an album title. You can mix and match from different categories and come up with an entirely new name. The only thing I recommend is to keep the name a little amusing. It shouldn't evoke a strong reaction every time you see it. We want to reduce its impact and not increase. Take your time and name your inner critic. If you don't feel like naming it, you can call it Mr. critique or miss inner critic too. There's no pressure to find the name or title is good enough. Most of the times a negativity can feel like it's just who we are. It's just hard to combat negative thoughts when it feels like we're fighting ourselves. When we think of the inner critic as a separate entity, and that too with the quirky name, it is no longer about fighting with ourselves. It gives us the much needed distance from the criticism, and with time it gets easier to have an objective conversation with it. That's all for now. I'd love to hear the names you have given to your inner critic, so please do share them in the project section. Now let's move on to the next step. Where we're going to give the inner critic the center stage, which it loves by the way, and let it speak to it's hard content. We are just going to hear it out. 4. Hear the Voice : It's only when we are aware and conscious of what the inner critic is telling us, that we can start to make some changes. Now that we have given the name to the inner critic, it's time to hear your doubt. The more we listen to the different ways it speaks to us, the more we can recognize the baseless claims it makes and change its volume as and when required. For a whole week, we are going to tune in every time the inner critic says something and write it down. For this activity, just use regular printer paper and not your favorite diary or a journal because we will discard these pages later. As already discussed in the previous step, all these thoughts and comments are not yours. They are of your inner critics. Like in my case, they are of [inaudible] So it's important to write down all the thoughts in second person. For example, a thought like "I'm a failure" should be written as, "You are a failure." The simple replacing of "I" from "You" will help you further weaken your association with the inner critic, detangle its messages and hear it for what they are. So when you start writing, title the page as Name of Your Inner Critique notes, and start taking notes of the judgment that you catch your inner critic saying over the course of few days. Write down all the fears, doubts, accusations, guilts, shoulds, shouldn'ts, failure throwbacks, and etc. Read through these uncomfortable moments by telling yourself that you are only writing what the inner critic is saying. After a week, whenever you feel that you're done writing with all the things the inner critic has to say, or you have heard enough, you can stop and put the pages out of sight for a while and give yourself a pat on the back because the efforts you have put in have externalized the inner critique further. These pages will help us zero in on the core beliefs about ourselves that the inner critic plays on. After hearing the inner critic talk for so long, let's go and hear some positive voices. 5. Open Up About It: Now one thing that fuels our inner critic is that we don't tell anybody about it. Mostly, we are scared and we don't want to give are those more chance to judge us or criticize us. Also, the social media updates make us think that we're the only one in the whole wide world experiencing this right now. But you know what? It's only our inner critic talking. Because the truth is, even if the external situations around us differ widely, most of us have these self-doubts and critical thoughts pop up in our lives time and again. It's really important to open up about our struggle through conversations. These conversations don't have to be limited to face to face. You can call, mail or use any form of art to communicate. In short, whatever you are comfortable with. Every time you open up to someone or support each other, the critical thoughts which were previously distorted, blown out of proportion start shrinking and detangling. So please go ahead and reach out to your inner circle and tell them what you feel. Have an open and honest discussion. Tell them that you are struggling with your inner critic seeing this in that, and let them tell you all the ways in which your inner critic is very wrong. The sounding, "I understand, or yeah, I too have been there," can be very reassuring. One more interesting thing is that when we listen to the critical soundtrack of others, visualize that some of the lyrics are quite similar. The word statements so accurate and applicable to just us echo in other's lives too. So when we defend them against their inner critic, we start developing an objective attitude towards setting, our inner critic says. So it's quite a win-win. And yes, I understand that it is difficult to share and open up. But once you start and with the right people, it does get easier with time. Now let's move on to the next exercise where we will create a tangible and easily accessible source of nurturing voices. 6. Cheer Squad Jar: Now that you have opened up about your inner critic, and even if you didn't do the previous step, how about we bring some positive voices in your space? How about having a cheer squad, a collection of uplifting voices always hooting for you? Sounds good. To do this activity, you will need colored papers, a transparent jar or a bottle, and a pen. We'll cut the paper and we'll write the names and statements of the voices that are a source of strength to us. Now there's no limitation to the number of messages or the source of messages that can go into this jar. But to get you started, there are some categories that you can refer to to add members in your cheer squad. You can add statements, dialogues expressed by your friends and family, helpful or different perspectives shared by a mentor, therapist or a coach, motivation and inspiring words or quotes by artists, authors, historical figures, leaders, relatable and encouraging dialogues by favorite literary TV shows, often characters, it can even have messages from your future or past self. For example, my jar here has statements from my friends, family, or college mentor, but I have also extended my squad by including quotes from inspiring people, dialogues from movies, and advisors from literally characters. The point is that any external voice that can fill you up with positivity can go into this jar. If the inner critic can be made of external voices, the inner [inaudible] can also take support from external voices. So take your time and create your dream squad. Once you are done, you can label it and put it somewhere where it's easily accessible. Now I know that we can always call people from my inner circle, which is great. But there might be times that they are not available. This jar ensures that when the inner critic is loud, you can right away your something from cheer squad. Now instead of reading the quotes and dialogues on Internet, I like writing them down and putting them in this jar because when I really need a small pick me up, going on Internet and looking for it, just turns from browsing for quotes to watching recent TikTok videos. I'm sure this has happened with a lot of us, so that is why this jar is the savior when I really need something right away. This fun process is all about building up the positive voices and internalizing them in the place of critical ones. You can believe in them and use these words to develop a different perspective and grow your confidence. The interesting part is, that the more you tap into them, the more they start becoming like your own. After some time, though you got this call from your best friend, this slowly become, I got this. Really hope that you enjoyed this activity. I look forward to seeing the pictures of your cheer squad jar in the project section. Now let's go on to the next step. Then we will gather some evidence and all other accomplishments. 7. Gather Evidence : Finally, the thing that the inequality does is that it marginalizes all our past accomplishments and diverts all our attention into the things that we have yet to do. For example, during the production phase of this class, my inner critique was putting on its efforts in stopping me. I mean, it was really loud and it was telling me that why would anybody watch this and you have picked up an extremely wrong topic? It kept on and on. The one thing that really helped me, along with the cheering from my cheering squad was this evidence folder. The folder which helps me overcome the negative voices with hot good evidence. It reminds me of the hard work I've done and the value I bring. Note, this exercise is not about inflating your ego. Rather, it's about being honest with yourself and reflecting on all the things that you have done. Once in a while, there's nothing wrong in telling yourself that you are proud of yourself. Now let me tell you a little more about how to make the folder. Your folder can be in the form of a journal, it can be a box where you keep the printouts, certificates, clippings and pictures. You can use an app like Ever-note, or you can have everything on your computer like the V I have done. What matters is that it should be a tool that works for you and it should be something that you can easily access and regularly update. Think of this project as something that you would do for a loved one. I mean, if you have to gather evidence against that enough critique, won't you include everything that recognizes and celebrate what's good about them? Do the same for yourself. Here are some ideas as to what you can include in your evidence folder. A list of your skills and qualities. The kind gestures you have made. The tough times you have managed to overcome. The lifestyle changes you have done. Awards, certificates, reviews, recognitions, thank-you notes, and et cetera, references of projects or work that you're really proud of, all your big and small accomplishments. Now, because I've been maintaining this folder since quite some time, I would like to stress that, please, do make sure to add your little wins because these are the ones that we simply fail to notice. Little wins like finishing of the book from your reading list, completing the OD project, learning a new recipe, showing off with your friends and family, spending an hour every week on self-care, saying no when you want to, and et cetera. From teeny-tiny to extra special, every piece of evidence counts. Do record all of them in your evidence folder. It can be really hard to give yourself the big hi-fi you deserve for the fear of coming across as immodest. But the truth is that you need to reflect on all the awesome things you have done and give yourself the credit for things you deserve. Otherwise, you let the inner critic when. The next time when we are doing something difficult or just need a reminder that you rock, you can open your file, read about one or more of your accomplishments, and then get back to rocking. This activity, this evidence folder makes confidence the media soundtrack in your life. Once your evidence folder is ready, we can go to the next activity. The VE will challenge everything the inner critic said to us. 8. Facts v/s Fiction: Analyze & Revise: It's time to challenge everything the inner critic said to us in the beginning. Yes, it's time to take out the inner critic's notes. We will question everything the inner critic said to us and talk back to it. Let me tell you that you will be surprised as to how irrational and extreme the inner critic's comments can be. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to make a distinction between what the inner critic thinks you are and what you really are. Let's get started. Now, this exercise is divided in two parts. In the first part, we go through the criticism and divide it as facts and fiction. The second part, we will reframe the facts. For the part one of this activity, you just need the notes that you had written and any two colored markers to divide the statements. Here's what I mean by facts and fiction. Facts can be the opinions made by the inner critic that has some scope for change, that is something that aligns with your aspirations or the lack of it is holding you back. For example, I have marked, you are very messy and disorganized as a fact because I can't prove it wrong and it has some school for improvement. Fiction would be the statements that are based on fear, doubts, unrealistic standards, and which have counter-evidence. For example, when I did this writing activity, one of the days I was feeling quite low about my work, and my inner critic instantly said that, "You know you are too late to be an artist. At that time, I wrote it down as part of my notes, but later when I went through the statements, I marked it as fiction." Because I keep recording the evidence and listen to the nurturing and supportive voices from my inner circle, I can confidently say that it is a fiction. Age has nothing to do with my abilities as an artist and it is just a number. I hope this example will give you a clear idea. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to further discern the inner critic's comments. Is this true? If yes, what evidence do you have? Or can I prove the opposite? Is it new or repetitive? Is it helpful? Is this really a flaw? Is it only one side of the story? Can this really happen? Would I talk like this to a friend or a child? Does my cheer squad agree with this statement? Is there a scope for change here? Keep questioning and arguing with the inner critic with the intention of winning. Once you're done with the marking, we can go to part two of this exercise. In the resource section, you will find the revised facts action plan. Any statement that you marked as facts will go onto this sheet, which I'm sure will be quite few. This step is not to dwell on mistakes, rather, it's a way to work on things which might have a school for improvement and turning these facts into actionable goals. Let me share with you an old example, but I use the sheet and reframe the fact into an actionable goal. When I first came to Netherland as an expect, my inner critic had a field day with regards to my social life. It did leave any chance to tell me that an introvert like me can never find friends here. It kept on telling me that I'm going to be so lonely, I will have no friends and etc. While all of this negative talk was disheartening, it was a fact because for a very, very long time, I didn't have any friends, and there were hardly very few people I interacted with. This field-based fact solved its true purpose when I reframed it as a goal. In my activity sheet, I wrote, I"'m going to step out of my comfort zone and make new connections." I wrote down tangible steps like attend meetups, join a dance group, introduce myself on relevant forums, try to connect with people in my field, strike a conversation with fellow moms during school pickup, and etc. The reward was addressed, I've been [inaudible] for a while. While all of this took time, slowly and eventually, I did find my tribe. I hope this boy example helps you realize that when we accept some flaws without the exaggerated version, we can still listen to inner critic's power on us and bring some positive changes too. But yes, during this whole process of analyzing the facts and fiction and revising the facts, please do remember that being nasty to ourselves is not okay and it's certainly not productive. Please go ahead and fill up the activity sheet. You don't have to come up with an action plan right away, but it helps to reframe the facts because if you cannot reframe them, then great, send it back to the fiction category. Figuring out whether to listen or not listen to the inner critic's voice can be quite challenging. But if you question it objectively, you will be able to distinguish between the true and the false comments. I hope when you do this activity, you feel the shift in the way you have been viewing your thoughts. So now, let's move on to the next step where we will make a self-compassionate playlist. 9. Self-Compassion Playlist : Now in the previous exercise, we separated the inner critic's dialogues into facts and fiction. Now I'm sure that you marked most of them as fiction, which is great. But this alone won't stop the inner critic from blasting on full volume the next time you do a mistake or you're trying something new. That is why we are going to prepare our own self-compassionate playlist to playback every time the inner critic starts being loud and rude. We are focusing on self-compassion here, because not only it is like an antidote to criticism, but it's also like an essential vitamin that you pop daily to keep yourself healthy. It is something you need on everyday basis and not just on the days when you are hurt. Like for a very, very long time, I struggled with the color of my skin. It was [inaudible] of media, people, society telling me that dark cannot qualify as beautiful. Even when I got support from my inner circle and I realize that it is a fiction I still listen to the inner critic every time I face the mirror. It's only when I turn inward and started being self-compassionate towards myself that things started to change. Slowly, I started replying back to the inner critic that it's okay, it is your opinion. But I love the way I look and I am enough. Because of self-compassion, I slowly started healing from the wound that had been troubling me from a very, very young age. So for any criticism that you know is a fiction, but is still keeps replaying in your life time and again, please do write a caring and a self-compassionate response in the first-person, in your playlist, or in your journal. I know this may sound simple I may look futile, but it does strengthens our self-compassion. With practice one day you will be able to shift the process to real-time and silence the inner critic's complain with a self-compassionate response. So get the playlist worksheet from the Resource section and start filling it up. This is a very personal exercise and you can fill whatever that works for you. But to get you started, here are some of the ways where you can reframe a negative statement into a positive one. You are such an idiot. I'm smart and competent in many ways. You make so many mistakes. My mistakes do not define me or dictate my future success. You are so lazy. I'm enjoying the process and only doing the things that matter to me. Why would be anyone interested in seeing your work? My experiences are unique to me and that's make my point of view also unique. Don't bother, you're not good enough. I am enough and I like myself the way I am. You don't deserve success. I'm a worthy person with many skills and qualities and I do deserve success. You are so far behind other people of your age. I have a range of experiences that I've gained at my own pace. As you do this exercise, make a commitment to keep writing for yourself as you would for someone that you love or respect. Remember that this is a voice that you need to develop to replace the inner critic, a voice that is compassionate, honest, rational, and empowering. Keep practicing, keep going through the playlist, very soon you would have memorized the lyrics and you won't need all these steps. The next time the inner critic throws a false statement towards you, you would be ready with an empathetic reply. Now in the last exercise, let's go and release all of the things that we no longer need. 10. Release: Let It Go: Welcome to the last and simplest activity. We have been through a long process. We externalized the inner critic by naming it, we heard it, and even opened up about it. With the help of our cheer squad and evidence folder, we strengthen the inner natural and we challenge the inner critic. We revise the facts and we compassionately dealt with the rest. Now, after doing all of this it's time to release all the old views and judgments that are not ours and no longer of use. The truth is we are not defined by views, opinions set by various external voices we have encountered in life. We are not defined by the statements made by the inner critique on this speech, so it's time to discard it. Now you can let go of these statements by tearing the pages, by burning them, or by throwing them in a box and closing it. No matter the medium then you discard the pages physically, try discarding them emotionally too, and feel the lightness that comes after it. I like to tear the pages and I cannot explain to you just how therapeutic it is to release all of that no matter whichever way you choose. This last step shrinks the inner critic folder. All its comparisons, assessments, and rejections just seem so tiny. The act of physically diminishing the inner critique is just like reformatting it. It's not that it will not come up again, but the next time it will come with lesser opinions and you will be equipped with all the steps to lower its volume and release it if required. The inner critic no longer has to be the dominant soundtrack in your life. 11. Final Thoughts: Congratulations, you guys. That was quite some work. You did a lot of self-reflection, you showed courage, and you opened up, so well done. Thank you so much for walking on this path with me and I'm hoping that you were able to distance yourself from your inner critic. The more you watch your inner critic from far without getting frustrated or trying to get rid of it, the easier it will be for compassion and confidence to fill up the space in you and around you. Going forward, keep acknowledging and celebrating your little wins. Every time you get a critical thought, talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend or a loved one. Do remember that you are not your inner critic and the next time it starts talking loud, which it will, you will know how to turn down its volume. You are awesome and you have all the resources to discern the inner critics comments and understand what's fact and what's fiction. I look forward to your experience about this process. You can share as much as ever you are comfortable with in the project galley. I look forward to seeing it and I'm sure it'll be helpful for others too. Just so you know, I'm going to be cheering for you and yes, if you have any questions, you can share them in the discussion board. You can follow me here on Skillshare to get notified about my next class and to see my work and other updates, you can follow me on Instagram @expressionsbyneha. Thank you once again for taking this class. I hope you found some value and meaning from these exercises and I'll see you next time.