The Inner Critic


The inner critic is your ally in the second half of the cycle. Although for most of us the idea of the critic as ally may feel mad, as it is usually experienced as a very toxic figure undermining who we are, it does have a crucial, even sacred role in the development of our power. The critic’s role is to help us to access the power of ‘No’ in the second half of our a cycle...what is not working in our lives, where we are erring from our path of true self, and keeps us true to the depths of who we are. The critic helps us to hone and refine our sense of self, to grow the psychological muscle to handle our full power. In short the critic is Big School, asking us to pick up our full authority. The journey to realising the critic as an ally lies in restoring the powers of the other seasons of your cycle, restoring the whole order of your cycle.

by Amber Bates

I often question my self confessed love for the Critic. It certainly doesn’t provide me immunity from her sneering and tirades. She still shows up,long list of critiques in hand, crouched by my bedside at 3am deep in Autumn. So how is it I always seem to come back to this sense of all pervading love for her? I’ve been musing on why….Before I came into this work I had absolutely no idea how crucial the second half of my cycle was for allowing me to let go of what no longer served in my life.

In fact, I didn’t even know there was a second half to my cycle. My blood came each month often as a complete surprise. Once it was over I just tucked it firmly to the back of my mind never to think of again. Until it came back as a surprise the next month.

I had no conscious idea that I was being worked by any sort of process at all. I’ve found it quite shocking in recent years to realise that no one had ever explained to me the biology of my body, even in the most basic reproductive terms. I struggled with feeling I was wrong. I was criticised for not being able to stick to one thing. I was told I was depressed, oversensitive, too emotional. I experienced incredible shame just for being me.

It has been my initiation into the powers found within my Autumn and Winter that are allowing me as a woman to find spaces of healing and freedom in a culture still so conditioned by patriarchy. And a key figure in leading me to these spaces has been the Critic. One of the consequences of not understanding my cyclic nature as a woman was that I was never able to truly allow myself to be held and evolved by the powers of menstruality.

Sure, it was part of my life process in an unconscious way, but I was never able truly receive the alchemy of the initiatory process I was in each month. I have needed to come into relationship with this power. I’ve had to cultivate becoming a present participant, rather than a passive bystander feeling  victim to it’s process. A work still in progress I might add.

The Critic has been like the sacred gatekeeper of this wisdom for me. For many, many moons after I came into this work I would make my way around the cycle, only to be met by the Critic in the depths of Autumn. I tried to side step her. She stood in my way. I really did not want to hear what she had to say. So she got louder. And if I wanted to block my ears so I didn’t have to hear her, she spoke through me, and my voice became hers. Cutting down and criticising those I love, as if she knew this avenue would be the one wake up call I could hear.

I can remember the night our relationship changed on my side to one of respect. I was deep in Autumn, the Critics breath on my neck, her voice in my ears, ‘You know you destroy everything you touch. There is something so wrong about you that you deserve everything you get. Its no wonder everybody leaves you .’She was digging into my absolute rawest nerve. Pulling the scab off childhood wounds and pain. It  felt low, very low.

I could feel myself wanting to unleash my fury on my family around me, anything to project this pain elsewhere so I didn’t have to feel it. I had gone enough rounds with her in the past to know that this avenue wasn’t the escape route I was looking for. It only provided more ammunition for the Critic and left me crippled with guilt and shame.

Somehow in that moment I made a decision to face this feared figure. In essence, the decision I made was to truly face myself. I took myself away to an upstairs room and did all I could think to do. I journaled with her. I am so grateful for that pivotal moment, it’s was an absolute turning point for me.

I dialogued with the Critic, coming from a space that I was taking my own side, but was willing to hear what she had to say. We went back and forth until finally I was able to receive that small nugget of truth the Critic, in her very own twisted way, was trying to deliver….I needed to get very real with myself about the wounds I was still carrying from childhood. They were now permeating my own experience of mothering.  Both of myself and my children.

In that moment it was as if she finally saw in me that I was only now ready to enter into a whole new landscape within myself. I imagined her head nod as she stepped aside to allow me entry to the sacred door she was guardian of. The doorway that was opened now I was ready to touch the deep well of grief from my childhood. And finally, through my grief, began a process of being able to let it go.

That night I was initiated into a deeper understanding of my cycle. I knew now that this much misunderstood and vilified character was so much more. Somehow, in her sacred role, she was on my side. She had lead me on a pathway to the door into my deepest self. In that moment I could imagine no greater act of love.

About Amber Bates

Amber is one of the Red School Mentors. She's passionate about supporting you to restore a deep sense of love for yourself and your cycle through Menstrual Cycle Awareness.  She's available for one-to-one menstruality coaching sessions, using Red School’s Menstrual Medicine Circle Process. This deeply nourishing process supports a woman to come into connection with the deep intelligence of her own cycle. It brings wonderful insight and healing to wherever it is needed.

Get in touch with Amber at

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