My thoughts never stop. They just go and go and go. It’s a never-ending stream of content, like a Times Square digital billboard ticking by 24 hours a day. My inner billboard is a running commentary on everything that is going on right now, with a healthy dose of analyzing things the past and a large dollop of worrying about the future. “Why did I say that? What might happen? These pants are not flattering!”
Some people find their thoughts are destructive, leaning more towards an Inner Critic. These kind of thoughts can be limiting and destructive to self-esteem and personal development. Dr. Lisa Firestone writes, “The critical inner voice represents an internal enemy and may be thought of as a threat to self-actualization and self-fulfillment. It tends to foster inwardness, distrust, self-criticism, self-denial and limitation, addiction, and a generalized retreat from one’s goal-directed activity.”1
Among the strategies to quiet one’s Inner Critic, homeopathy shines. A well-chosen remedy can release old patterns authentically and organically. Rather than trying to change how/what we think from an outward and intellectual standpoint, the change in our thinking can come about from within and is more akin to softening and releasing old patterns and beliefs.
Let me tell you about a case where my client’s Inner Critic was silenced and she was able to thrive again with curiosity, passion and competence.
Pressure to be Perfect
Lisa was a 51-year-old doctor who came to me with extreme perfectionism, self-criticism, overwhelm and fatigue. When she came to see me, she was exhausted and any errand or responsibility felt too much, like a huge production. Even going on a one-minute drive to the grocery store felt like too much. The moment work began she was exhausted and dreaded the nine hours to come. In her work she literally had people’s lives in her hands, with a tremendous amount of pressure to never make a mistake or fail. The pressure had become so great, she would wake in the night with an overwhelming feeling of not being able to cope with life or even to get through the next day.
Lisa explained that she was very critical of herself, and that she expected perfection from herself. Her Inner Critic was always analyzing her. “Why aren’t you better?” it would say. When she made even one mistake, the Inner Critic would globalize her failure, until she felt like a failure in all areas. The Inner Critic was there in all parts of her life; work, parenting, hobbies, anything she undertook. The Inner Critic would be present in her interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Listening to these thoughts made it hard to be present. She started second guessing everything she was doing and her Inner Critic told her that people were judging her and finding her unacceptable. Interpersonal relationships were becoming strained and awkward, as she was simultaneously interacting and critiquing her interactions in real time. Her Inner Critic never took a break. It was on duty 24/7, and over time she developed a preference to be alone to avoid this discomfort.
Understandably, Lisa was finding it hard to feel joyful about anything. Her zest for life, her interest in the arts, and her curious mind were slowly fading into a gray fog. She told me her joy level was a 2 out of 10 and she was barely making it through her days.
Lisa received a comprehensive treatment plan from me, which included the homeopathic remedy Carcinosin, and a stress management plan that included meditation, getting out in the morning sunlight and taking some walks.
After the first month, Lisa reported that she felt much, much better. She said she had only a few moments of feeling down. Her mood and energy were much better, she felt more optimistic and less stressed about work. She was now able to go to the grocery store and other errands with no problem. In her words, “It has been a big shift, feeling like it is possible to have energy again. I feel like I can handle most things.” Her Inner Critic was not gone, but it was quieter. She felt more confident asking for what she wanted and needed, and she felt ok about “taking up space”.
She had added some exercise classes, walking and socializing. She started getting counseling in nutrition and seeing a therapist. It is always interesting to me when a client receives a well-suited remedy and suddenly they are able to be proactive with their health. This indicates the remedy stimulated a level of agency that was previously lacking. She now had the resources to begin to take care of herself.
Better, but not all better
We decided things were on a good track, and we would wait for some time to see what else unfolded. Over the next few months, things for Lisa were up and down. Though she was better than she had been, she was still susceptible to triggering events in her life and she was having some flare-ups of old physical symptoms. After talking in depth about some of the recent triggering events, I altered her remedy treatment plan to add Calcarea carbonica daily and to continue taking Carcinosin monthly.
Over the next few months, Lisa reported a jump in her energy and stamina. Her mood was more optimistic, and her Inner Critic had lessened in some, but not all situations. It was easier to get errands done and juggle complex daily schedules. Mostly she felt less pressured at work, more accepting of the hectic pace. Her focus at work was improved but fluctuating a lot and not stable. She said the level of joy in her life was still a 2 out of 10.
This was not enough improvement for me to be satisfied, so I added some homeopathic support for Lisa’s brain and endocrine system. We continued with the Calc carb daily and Carcinosin once a month, along with the remedy Hypothalamus weekly for a few weeks.
The impact of the new remedy was dramatic. At Lisa’s next appointment, she told me it was like a switch that flipped. She suddenly felt passionate and curious again, describing a research project that she dove into around one of her most beloved hobbies. She felt she had the space in her brain to take in new information, “like how I used to be.” The Inner Critic was now quiet. The blessed silence made it easier for her to play guitar and work without self-criticism. She was not judging herself and her performance anymore. She did not feel she needed to be perfect! She felt alert at work for her whole shift, with good mental and physical energy. She even felt like work was fun! Her whole perspective of time had changed, with a feeling of spaciousness and enough time for all that needed to be done.
It was telling that Lisa recounted several situations where the Inner Critic was absent for the first time in her whole life; looking at her body in the mirror, in casual social situations, at a family reunion, at her high-pressured job, and playing music. The silence of this voice was deeply profound for her. It allowed her to simply be present in each moment, finally finding joy again in the everyday moments of her life.
Every case is unique
I mention some specific remedies in this article. These are not “Inner Critic remedies”, they were remedies that this particular client needed at this moment in time. Please know that each client has a unique constellation of symptoms that points to the remedy needed. Your Inner Critic may need different remedies, and that’s normal and expected. Homeopathy is always tailored to each individual and everyone gets their own treatment plan based on their needs.
Let me know if you’d like to talk with me about
your Inner Critic and finding some silence.
Wishing you optimal health,
1 Psychology Today, Dr. Lisa Firestone; Steps to Overcoming Your Critical Inner Voice, May 21, 2010