Want to know how to handle your inner critic?
Right now, many of us are hearing that nit-picking little voice more than ever. And the things she comes out with can be spiteful.
On a recent Lunch and Learn session over on the One of many Facebook page, we shared some of her best lines with each other.
“You’re a terrible mother. How could you have scheduled yourself to lead a training on the day of your daughter’s nursery visit? ”
“You’re so lazy – you never finish things.”
“Who do you think you are, trying to change?”
If any of these sound familiar, or you’ve got your own unique flavour of self criticism, read on. Today I’m going to explain 3 reasons why many of our inner critics are having a field day right now – and 5 techniques you can use to chill out your inner critic once and for all.
But before we learn how to handle her, let’s dig into to who she is, and why we can actually be grateful for her input.
So who is your inner critic?
Your inner critic is one of the “voices in your head” that we sometimes term ‘sub-personalities’. Their presence isn’t anything to be alarmed about – they’re simply different aspects of your personality.
Often these sub-personalities have both a positive and negative impact on our lives. They can help us respond powerfully to situations in certain circumstances, and yet if they begin to take over, we might find them less than helpful.
The job of the inner critic is a simple one: to keep you safe. She’s protecting you from shame, criticism, failure, and feelings you want to avoid. By getting in there with her criticism before others do, she gives you a chance to adjust your behaviour and learn from mistakes. In this sense, she’s really valuable.
The problem is if the inner critic is the only voice we listen to. The trick is to know how to listen to her and turn those barbs of criticism into helpful strategies for growth.
Why our inner critics are loud right now
If you’ve found yourself feeling more self-critical than ever, you’re not alone.
There are 3 things that tend to exacerbate our inner critics. Have you experienced any – or all – of these lately?
1. You’re carrying around lots of emotion
If we’re sad, or grieving, or angry, or afraid, our inner critic often starts to take charge. She’s responding to the volatility and uncertainty that comes at times of heightened emotion – and her desire to keep us safe from intense feelings can send her into overdrive.
2. You’ve got limiting beliefs
If you hold an unconscious belief like “nothing I do is ever good enough” or “I can’t trust anyone else to do it right”(like many of us did before the pandemic) your inner critic will often be particularly vocal. Whenever she feels you’re at risk of crossing one of these boundaries, she’ll be extra busy wanting to protect you from the perceived risk. This can make things like accepting mistakes, asking for help, or handling criticism from others especially challenging.
3. You’re exhausted
When we’re tired, we’ve been juggling more than usual, or our executive functioning is depleted, our inner critic often takes over. As a coach, a warning sign that extra replenishment is needed often comes when my client starts speaking in the voice of her inner critic, saying things like: “I’m just terrible at this… I’m hopeless… there’s no point.” If you’ve been stressed for a long period of time or having to operate at a high level, resting and filling your energy back up has to be the number one priority.
Then you can move on to handling your inner critic during the moment in a more proactive way. Here’s how.
5 ways to handle your inner critic
1. First things first, rest.
Get your energy back up, nourish yourself, give yourself the love and care you need to feel at your best. The PowerType which helps with this is the Lover – and she delights in beauty and her senses. Walking in nature, treating yourself to a beautiful hand cream, or cooking a special meal are all simple ways to boost your Lover and restore your vitality.
2. Deal with the information your inner critic brings.
The inner critic often has important data to share. What makes all the difference is how you handle that information. Queen is a fantastic PowerType to use here – she’s the part of you that handles the “big picture” vision, and the strategies that will get you there. So, if your inner critic tells you “You really messed up that presentation”, Queen can step in to say “Was that true? If so, what’s the impact? And what steps can I take to mitigate that, so that I can still get the results I want?”
The other PowerType to draw on is Mother. The energy of soothing, unconditional love helps soothe some of the sting of the critic’s words. Perhaps you can remind yourself of times when you’ve done a great job, or acknowledge the other circumstances that meant you didn’t have time to fully prepare as you’d wanted to.
3. Give your inner critic a name.
This sounds silly, but it makes a huge difference in allowing you to separate your inner critic from who you are. Like a grumpy schoolteacher, she becomes someone you can engage with in a playful way without handing over your power. Mine’s called the pixie; other names I’ve heard include PC Pernickety, Rumpelstilsktin, Windbag… have fun!
4. If you’re carrying round a limiting belief, release it.
If you’re on our Living the Change program you can use the PowerType Release Process in your member’s area. And I’ll be sharing that process in a few week’s time at our free online experience, Momentum for Change. You can register for free by clicking here.
5. Deal with your emotions.
Music is a great place to start when it comes to allowing yourself to fully experience emotions, and let them move through you. A coach or therapist can also help you process what you’re feeling, and release it in a safe way. Again, we’ll explore what I think of as “emotional hygiene techniques” in more detail at our upcoming event.
So where do you need to look first?
Is dealing with tiredness your number one priority? Do you have a feeling that you’re full up of emotions, or that a limiting belief keeps popping up? Or perhaps you’re read to start drawing on the PowerTypes to help you handle your inner critic in the moment.
Wherever you’re at, I hope you’re able to join me from the comfort of your sofa on 19–20 September when we’ll be exploring how to handle your inner critic in more detail – along with other tools, resources and techniques to help you handle the particular challenges of the moment.
Register for your free place here: https://oneofmany.co.uk/momentum/
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