Is your inner voice really harsh? Does it LOVE to criticize you? Does it constantly tell you how much your are lacking, remind you of all the ways it thinks you are bad or wrong, berate you for doing too little or too much. . . . .is it ever satisfied???
A few weeks ago I wrote to you about a question I am often asked:
What keeps talented singers stuck and struggling?
Today I have another actionable tool for you as we continue that conversation. This tool will help you get out of your head and move past the struggle by changing the way you relate to your inner voice.
You see, when you hear that critical voice, it’s not you. It is not the voice of your true self. It’s the voice of your ego, otherwise known as your “inner-critic”. The voice of the true self so often gets drowned out by the ego/inner-critic that at times the inner-critic is the only voice we hear. But it’s not the only voice that’s there.
Learning how to detach from your inner-critic and connect to the voice of your true self can be game changing for improving your singing and getting you “un-stuck”.
I know, you’re thinking “Oh Arden, here you go again with the voodoo, woo-woo stuff”, but hear me out. I’ve helped a TON of singers dramatically improve their singing by helping them shift how they relate to themselves. In my experience, this is a huge part of what makes a successful singer because it actually effects your vocal technique.
So many of us artists and creative types experience a very loud and often very mean inner critic.
When we allow the inner critic to dominate our thoughts, perceptions and experiences, our ability to sing and perform at the highest level is greatly impacted.
When our inner critic looms large, we go forward in our singing (and in the world) from a place of fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety create physical tension, tension prevents us from efficiently using our technique and when that happens we don’t sing vey well. It’s pretty simple. As singers, we need to be able to let go and trust our support and technique. How can we possibly do that with this very loud and mean inner critic keeping us in fear and anxiety all the time?
A wonderful meditation and mindfulness teacher in Los Angeles named Heather Prete teaches a great technique for keeping your inner-critic in check. When you hear that critical voice, start by naming it, it’s not you. “Ah, there goes my inner critic again”. Detach from it, even laugh at it “Bwahaha, inner-critic, you’re so predictable!” Then return to the present moment, your breathing and the feel of your body.
Odds are whatever the inner-critic was yammering on about isn’t taking place in the present moment. It’s usually shaming you about the past or worrying about the future. The inner critic doesn’t live in the present moment. But the true self does. Every time you detach from your inner-critic, you reconnect with your true self. In this way, your true self steps in and witnesses the ego as something separate. When that happens, all of its criticism and fear mongering takes on much less significance and its voice stops being so loud.
Detaching from our inner-critic allows us to better trust our vocal technique and to flow with the possibilities of the present moment in our singing without the need to tense, over-control, force or manipulate.
The next time your inner critic starts up, use these steps as a practice for keeping it in check:
Step 1. Name the voice as your inner-critic
Step 2. Detach from it, it is not you
Step 3. Address it (even laugh at it!)
Step 4. Return to the present moment. Name out loud 5 objects you see and their color.
Step 5. Connect to your breathing. Say “I am breathing in” as you inhale and “I am breathing out” as you exhale.
Step 6. Connect to the feel of your body, sensations both internal and external.
Step 7. Go on with your day. You have successfully checked your inner critic!