A Voice and A Choice: Your Inner Critic and You, Part 2:
Well? Have you given her a name yet? Your inner critic, that’s who. As you may have learned from my recent article addressing your Twin Within, this self-imposed menace lives inside the minds of us all, and needs to be acknowledged and tamed before she manages to impede our productivity and career prosperity. You can strategically take control of her once you’ve given her a name of her own, thereby depicting her as separate from yourself.
As promised, here are some tangible steps you can take with your newly-named inner critic to keep her in her place. You’ll be delighted to discover how practical these approaches can be, which should serve to add to your confidence in employing them.
Proving It To Yourself
A monster of a stressor that the inner critic loves to pin on us is the misconception that we haven’t done enough. This one is most effective when we’re preoccupied looking at what needs to get done, that we forget how much we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come. Your best defense here is to provide yourself proof of how you’re allocating your time. For me, the “week in review” challenge gets the job done. Try it yourself. Spend 15 minutes at the end of your week to reflect on what you DID accomplish. Notate what your big challenges were and what your energy was like. This powerful tool will verify for you that you HAVE done enough, and will also serve to pinpoint the areas where your productivity falls short. Take THAT, inner critic!
Self-Compassion: Your Critic’s Kryptonite
The position of power that you’ll find yourself in will be the gateway to emancipation from your critic’s emotional stranglehold. You can now question her, and decide whether she’s raising rational or irrational points about your behavior, your decisions and your skills. If, for example, you’ve poured your heart into a brilliant project, yet your critic is beating you up over it, she is out of line. However, if you spent all night watching cat videos and didn’t prepare adequately for today’s meeting, then your critic has made a valuable point.
We all mess up occasionally. But once you’ve leveled with your critic, you can at last forgive yourself and learn from the lesson. Perhaps setting a timer for your video watching is in order. Or maybe it’s taking 10 minutes for meditation to recalibrate yourself. This proactive approach to staying focused is rooted in self-compassion, and self-compassion is the inner critic’s kryptonite, rendering her ineffectual!
The truth is, we would never speak to anyone else as harshly as we allow our inner critics to speak to us. If we take the time and exert the effort, we’ll soon discover how to transform hateful words into words of understanding and empathy. This leads to reduced stress and optimum focus, which we can all admittedly use.
Keep in mind that taming your inner critic is not a magical “quick fix”. After all, she’s been with you for your entire life, secretly claiming free reign over your emotions and energy when you are stressed. She developed around the time you began to crawl, walk, and understand language. While your parents were saying the word “no” to keep you out of danger, your critic had been saying “no” to keep you under her spell. It’s only when you become aware of the power of this “voice in your head” that can you begin to learn how to manage that voice, eliminate undue stress, and reclaim your productivity potential. This, like many things in our lives, is a gradual process. Stick with it, and sweet relief will eventually be yours!