The inner critic is simply a term used to describe negative self-talk. It’s part of the human condition to engage in negative self-talk. The problem then becomes when the inner critic stands in our way, impeding our ability to realize our full potential.
The inner critic exercise helps students identify and isolate the inner negative voice that manifests itself in bad habits. Yes, at times the inner critic serves a useful role in helping us point out for ourselves what we could improve, but it’s only useful if this is a conscious choice. The problem is that most people can’t turn the inner critic off. When this becomes the case, the inner critic ends up running the show, instead of allowing ourselves to make mistakes and reflect on them in order to keep moving toward our goals. Being moderately critical can be useful, but an overuse can hinder development.
This exercise is so effective because it objectifies the inner critic, which allows the student to witness these thoughts without judgment and disconnect from them. It creates space between that critical point-of-view and the actual, constructive thoughts that will aid in the student’s success. It’s a fun and somewhat playful exercise, leading to its effectiveness.
The Future Self Visualization exercise taps into the natural power of hope. Numerous studies have shown that when we think about who we will be in the future, the vast majority of people create an extremely positive version of themselves. It’s part of a healthy human psyche to assume that we are constantly improving ourselves in order to be more fully capable of gracefully dealing with challenges facing us when we become a wiser and a more experienced future being.