Face It, Name It, Tame It: Insights on Outsmarting Our Inner Critics, Part 2

Workplace_BiasIt’s not likely that we will ever completely rid ourselves of our inner critics, so how can we productively live with them? The first step is to identify when your inner critic is present, acknowledge what brings it on, and maintain the awareness that it’s not serving your higher good. At DRIVEN founder Deborah Goldstein’s Real Talk/Real Food dinner event, a participant brought up the brilliant strategy of giving her inner critic a name. This allows her to (a) recognize when her inner critic was operating and (b) to create a distance between herself and her inner critic. When we see our inner critic as separate from the self, we can gain more clarity and see it for what it is, which is often our self-imposed punishment for not being perfect. In reality, no one is perfect….perfect is when you are dead! So striving for this unattainable perfection is futile (a great resource on this topic is Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection). When we become mindful of this process, we can tame the inner critic and see it for the unnecessary baggage that it is. Before you know it, you can even outsmart that inner critic by wooing it instead of letting it hijack your self-esteem.

How Full Is Your Tank?

Because the inner critic manifests during times of stress, and seemingly appears out of nowhere, how can we control our reaction in that split-second moment?  Doing it consciously and timely is difficult because our resources are likely tied up. The best strategy is to “tend your garden” on a consistent basis so that when the storm comes, you’re ready. By “tend your garden” I mean taking care of yourself consistently, and keeping your tank full. Everyone needs different activities to keep themselves balanced, like taking a guilt-free day off, reading a good book, walking along the beach, or drinking a glass of wine while taking a hot bubble bath (how decadent!). You have to discover your own tank-filling tasks and make sure you do them consistently so that when the stressful moment arrives and your inner critic rears its ugly head, you are prepared by being in a more consistent state of balance.

For Serious Consideration

Meditation is what fills my tank. It started with just 5-10 minutes, 1 or 2 times a week. Now I meditate every day for 20-45 minutes! For this to be effective, like anything, we need to find the right flavor for ourselves. Some prefer a mantra that they repeat in their head in silence while sitting in the lotus position (yoga speak for sitting cross-legged on the ground), while some like the soothing noise of nature’s sounds in the background while they lay reclined, eyes closed. I enjoy guided meditations where a speaker takes you on a soothing journey with positive affirmations and visualizations. I find it’s best to do them first thing in the morning before I get out of bed or at night before I go to sleep. Science is proving that meditation has powerfully positive effects on the mind and body, and it’s become the perfect way to learn to cope in our fast-paced, non-stop, hyper-connected world. We all need to detach and breathe from time to time, and the consistent practice of this can change your whole world. Enjoy the journey!

To read Part 1 of this 2-part post about Outsmarting Our Inner Critics and other takeaways from Real Talk/Real Food, link HERE.

Keila Tyner, PhD, is a consultant and speaker with a commitment to empowering women in the workplace. She currently serves as the Director of Programming and Research for DRIVEN Professionals and is a Brand Manager at Saks Fifth Avenue in women’s shoes, managing daily operations for the largest luxury shoe department in Manhattan. Keila has spent her career as a scholar and teacher in the social and psychological aspects of image, dress, appearance, and the presentation of the self.