One of my Liberate Your Life program participants emailed me this week and asked that very question. It’s an interesting one, and I thought I’d share with you how I answer it within the body of my work. Although other peoples’ work may define these things differently, this is what works for me and for the people I work with.
Think of the Ego as your identity.
It’s who you take yourself to be. Maybe that’s a man or woman, mother or father, daughter or son. Maybe it’s an employee, a manager, a friend, and so on and so forth. You could sum up “Ego” as the who and what of your thoughts about yourself.
Think of the “Inner Critic” as the judgmental critical voice that has opinions *about* your Ego.
For example, the Inner Critic might look at the list I just wrote and expand it like this: “Insensitive man, ugly woman, unavailable mother, inconsistent father, distant daughter, burdensome son, incompetent employee, overbearing manager, callous friend” and so on and so forth. You could sum up “Inner Critic” as your opinions about yourself.
I’m aware that some people teach the ego to be “bad” or something to “rid” ourselves of. Unfortunately, that perspective *IS* the Inner Critic trying to judge how a person should go about their own path of inner growth.
(that’s just a more cunning version of the Inner Critic)
Rather than think of the Ego as something to get rid of, I prefer to think of it as something to understand. It’s not inherently bad to be a parent. However, it is important to understand what it means to be a parent, how that awareness affects your life, and how you can live both as a parent in the worldn… -without- all the judgments of the Inner Critic about what kind of parent it thinks you are.
Similarly, while I sometimes joke about “obliterating” the Inner Critic, that perspective only has very limited use (for the purposes of channeling certain types of aggressive energy more effectively).
As I teach in Liberate Your Life, it came to be in your life for very important, survival-based reasons. Rather than try to “get rid” of the Inner Critic, again I find it most useful to try and understand it. Explore it.
In my experience, trying to get rid of certain thoughts within my head is only a temporary remedy. The thoughts always come back. The only approach that has ever given me truly lasting freedom from the harsh judgments of my Inner Critic is awareness and understanding.
I hope those examples help clarify, at least within my evolving and developing body of work, where the differences lie between the Ego and the Inner Critic.
Your Partner In Transformation,
Liberate Your Life