You know that nagging voice that keeps telling you you’re not good enough, you’ll never make a go of it and are generally a bit useless. Well, we all have it. The good news is that you can not only learn how to manage it, but also use it as a source of wisdom.
I was working with a client whose inner critic was particularly cruel and who was really stopping her from doing everything she wanted to at work. Normally, I would want her to find a way to quieten the voice but it just wasn’t happening. So I asked her if anything the critic was saying was right. She looked a bit stunned, so I asked her again. If you take the nastiness out of it, does anything the critic is saying have some validity?
‘Um, yes, I think it does.’
‘OK are you happy to explore it?’
She was, so we listed everything the inner critic was saying and worked our way through. The first question we asked was ‘Is this true in any way?’. Some of the criticisms were obviously false, so we crossed them off the list and set them aside. We’ll work on where these are coming from at another time.
Next, we asked, ‘Does this matter? If so, why?’ After some discussion and debate, several other items were removed from the list and set aside. She felt a couple of things were true, and a bit painful to admit, but not that relevant for her problems at work.
We ranked what was left in terms of how they were affecting her job and the top 3 were:
- Can’t say no, let people walk all over me
- Not experienced enough
- Rubbish at networking
We talked about what she wanted to do and came up with a plan to help her become more assertive, get the relevant experience and develop her networking skills. Instead of fretting over the nasty voice in her head, she’s now focussed on addressing the problems that she had identified but didn’t know what to do with. We both thought this was really useful exercise.
We all have things we could do better, or need to improve on, but instead of beating ourselves up why not do something about it? Our inner critics can be harsh, but sometimes they give us an insight into something lurking in the back of our minds that we really want to change. So, bring what the critic is saying out, have a look at it in the cold light of day, work out if it’s true and then decide what you want to do about it.
I’ll be talking about working with your inner critic in my free webinar. It will be fun but insightful and I intend to give some solid gold tips and advice that you can start to use straight away. I would love to see you there so please join me at 12.30 on 28 September. The webinar will also be recorded so you can listen later. You can book your place here.
NB this story is shared with my client’s permission, although some small details have been changed to preserve confidentiality.