Assess the Strength of Your Inner Critic

Practice of the Week
Assess the Strength of Your Inner Critic

Category: WORTH A TRY, or OCCASIONAL, or MIGHT BE YOUR THING: The practices in this category are "worth a try" at least once. Some of them are daily practices, where giving them "a try" would mean doing them daily for a week. Others are one-time exercises to do and re-do quarterly or annually. Some practices in this category are great for responding to a particular need that may arise in your life. Others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. Among these practices you may find the one particular practice that becomes your main and central spiritual practice -- or a Key Supporting Practice.

Your Inner Critic whispers, whines, and needles you into place. Ze checks your thoughts, controls your behavior, and inhibits actions. Ze thinks ze is protecting you from being disliked, hurt, or abandoned. Instead, your Inner Critic:
  1. constricts your ability to be creative.
  2. stops you from taking risks because ze makes you fear failure.
  3. views your life as a series of mistakes waiting to happen.
  4. undermines your courage to change.
  5. compares you unfavorably with others and makes you feel "less than."
  6. is constantly warning you not to look foolish.
  7. is terrified of being shamed and so monitors all your behavior to avoid this.
  8. causes you to suffer from low self-esteem, and possibly depression, because ze tells you that you are not good enough.
  9. can make looking at yourself in a mirror or shopping for clothes miserable because of its ability to create such a negative view of the body.
  10. can take all the fun out of life with zir criticisms.
  11. makes self-improvement a compulsive chore because ze bases the work on the premise that something is wrong with you.
  12. doesn't allow you to take in the good feelings that other people have toward you.
  13. makes you susceptible, and often victim, to the judgments of other people.
How Strong Is Your Inner Critic?

Answer each of the following, 0-5:
0 = never, ever
1 = rarely
2 = between "rarely" and "occasionally"
3 = occasionally
4 = between "occasionally" and "frequently"
5 = frequently

_____ 1. I wake up at night worried about the mistakes that I made the day before.
_____ 2. I replay conversations after I've had them to see what I've done wrong.
_____ 3. I don't like the way my clothes look on me.
_____ 4. When I'm with other people, I wonder if they're critical me.
_____ 5. I'm cautious about trying anything new because I'm afraid of looking foolish.
_____ 6. I'm afraid people will laugh at me.
_____ 7. I worry about what other people think.
_____ 8. I feel inferior to other people.
_____ 9. I wish I had a more attractive body.
_____ 10. When I look in the mirror, I check to see what's wrong with me.
_____ 11. When I read over something I've just written, I'm not satisfied with it.
_____ 12. I'm afraid that there's something basically wrong with me.
_____ 13. I wonder what other people would think of me if they really knew what I was like underneath.
_____ 14. I compare myself with other people.
_____ 15. I seem to attract judgmental people.
_____ 16. I question my decisions after I have made them and think that I might have done better.
_____ 17. When I say 'No' I feel guilty.
_____ 18. When I take a test like this, I'm sure that I don't do as well as other people.
_____ 19. I avoid taking risks if I can help it.
_____ 20. When I think about self-improvement I feel that there is something wrong with me that needs to be fixed.

Add up your answers to these 20 questions.
Less than 45 = small Inner Critic
46-75 = medium-sized Inner Critic
76-100 = large and strong Inner Critic

Once you've assessed the strength of your Inner Critic, you may want to practice ways of distancing yourself from (i.e., shrinking) your Inner Critic. See the Practice of the Week, "Confront Your Negative Inner Voice" for some approaches to take to your Inner Critic.

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