Regardless of our daydreaming style, we all have an inner critic. It’s that voice in our heads that tells us we aren’t good enough, or we aren’t clever enough, or we aren’t worthy enough, thereby sabotaging our attempts to move forward in life. Odd though it may sound, our inner critic is trying to keep us safe, by trying to keep us in our comfort zone. Our inner critic believes that not trying is the best way to avoid the risk of failure or rejection.
But if we want to move forward in life, it’s essential to be able to step outside our comfort zone. So how do we, as daydreamers, deal with our inner critic so that we can move forward?
1. Notice what your inner critic is saying.
When our inner critic tells us that we can’t or shouldn’t do something, we tend to just accept it without question. We might not even notice the inner-critic’s voice in our heads. We might just assume that “people like me can’t do that”, without even questioning where that belief comes from. The first step in trying to change that belief is to be aware of it. Try to get into the habit of being aware of your assumptions and noticing when you are being hard on yourself.
2. Question your inner critic.
Once you have become more aware of what your inner critic is saying to you, you can start to question whether that message is always helpful. Now it’s time to have a dialogue with your inner critic. Try visualising your inner critic as something outside of you. My former therapist liked to call it “the parrot on your shoulder”. Bringing the inner critic outside and giving it its own identity makes it easier to question whether you really want this part of you running your life. Ask it to give you evidence to support what it’s just said. Ask it what it’s trying to protect you from. Decide for yourself whether you want to accept its advice.
3. Bring in your inner champion.
This is where our daydreaming can really come into its own. You’ve been listening to your inner critic for a long time. It probably feels scary to no longer rely on its advice. You might be worried about whether you can go it alone. You might need someone to believe in you. Someone who accepts you unconditionally, never doubts your ability to achieve anything you put your mind to and will cheer you on no matter what. Your mind created your inner critic; it’s time to create an inner champion. And I suspect most of us daydreamers have a character that’s already fulfilling that role. In your daydream they might be a partner or a parent or a mentor – the person who loves, supports and encourages your alter ego through whatever your plot requires of them. Or it might even be your alter ego – that idealised version of yourself who doesn’t have all your doubts and insecurities. If you could jump into your daydream world right now, who would you turn to for advice? What would they tell you to do?
Talking to my daydream characters about my real-world problems has helped me turn my daydreaming from a waste of time into an asset. Whenever my inner critic is causing me to doubt myself, my inner champion will step in and remind me of all the things I’ve achieved (in real life and the daydream world) and tell me that he has total faith in me and that he will love me even if I mess up. That usually gives me all the confidence I need to move forward.
Your inner champion can help balance out your inner critic. Your inner critic will probably never leave you completely – they originally joined you to try to keep you safe, and they may still have a role in reining in some of your inner champion’s wilder ideas. But next time you hear your inner critic tell you that you can’t, take a moment to listen to your inner champion telling you that you can, and then decide for yourself whether you feel confident enough to try.