One of my favourite parts of coaching is helping people learn about the critical voice we carry around with us. The voice that says “You’re not ready”, “You’re not smart enough”, “You’re not good enough”. The voice that makes you question yourself, your relationships, your career, your body, your dreams.
Yep you know what voice I’m talking about!
- The first learning is that we all have that mean, inner critic (also referred to as the ego) – you are not ‘crazy’.
- The second learning is that most of the time what your inner critic has to say isn’t even true, often extremely irrational, and is designed to hold you back and keep you ‘safe’.
- The third learning is that it’s something we have to continue managing for the rest of our lives, because it’s an innate part of our biological make up.
So, what’s the first step when it comes to working with your inner critic?
A common phrase you hear when it comes to working with your mind is “You are not the voice, you’re the one listening to it“.
What this means is that in order to understand your inner critic better, and work on managing it more effectively, you have to create space between yourself and the internal dialogue.
Start doing this by separating your inner critic’s identity from your own.
- What does it sound like?
- What are its key characteristics?
- What does it frequently talk to you about / comment on?
- How does it go about making you react to what it has to say?
For example, mine is a task-master, who is anxious, sarcastic, and obsesses over time. Some of its defining traits are that it repeats the same problem over and over again acting as though I haven’t heard it, it’s two-sided, uses should/have to/must in its language, and always jumps to the worst-case scenario.
Once you get into the habit of recognising and separating yourself from the voice of your inner critic, it puts you in the position to subjectively view it’s patterns and tricks, and how it influences your everyday choices.
To help get you started, here are 5 common traits of the inner critic. It’s…..
- Mean and harsh – it says thing to you that you would never say to someone else.
- Black and white – you’re either X or Y, there is no room for grey in it’s thinking.
- The voice of reason – it pretends to act in your best interest to stop you from doing anything.
- Repetitive – it feels like a broken record going over and over the same points.
- Two-faced – it encourages you to do something, then immediately shames you for following through or thinking about it.
Do any of these resonate with you?