The other day I was talking to a non-coach friend and I said, “You know, like when ALL of your inner critics conspire to get you down.” He didn’t interrupt me because he’s polite…
But a minute later I could tell he wasn’t listening and I said, “Tom?” And he said, “Sorry, I’m still on the idea of more than one inner critic. I mean, I can barely handle the one I have. There could be more??”
It’s not so much that we have many inner critics, it’s that our inner critic has a few favorite flavors. Some of mine are the hyper-achiever. I can get so caught up in over-delivering, that I do a so-so job at just basic delivering. Then there’s the restless, and he’s been rattling his cage during most of the Covid shutdown. And I have the victim, who loves to compare me to others. So when the three conspire, it sounds something like, “You have to double your business, NOW!, because <whimper, whimper> everyone except you has already done it.
And there I just demonstrated the formula for fighting the inner critic gang:
- Find out who they are. Take 30 minutes to identify the voices in your head. It might take a while to even realize they are there, because they are so much a part of you. If you need a little help, check out the survey on positiveintelligence.com.
- Notice when they show up. Here’s a clue – any time you hear the same old insecurity, they are there. The more you notice them, the more you’ll get to know the circumstances that trigger them.
- Make fun of them! When I imagine my gremlins rattling a cage, they seem so small.
- Decide that what they are telling you are lies. And tell yourself the truth. It’s usually the exact opposite of the lie.
The inner critic is a wily beast. We know it shows us as procrastination, perfectionism, defensiveness. But there are other ways too:
- Giving up: What if it’s not that your team is lazy or that your job is terrible, but that that “can’t win” feeling makes you (or your team) give up?
- Burnout: The feeling that any of us are only as good as our last win is a fast path to burnout
- Being an Abrasive Leader: Yes, you!, even though you don’t want to
All of these dynamics are brought on by the inner critic gang. So if you think you’re managing it, you may want to take a closer look.
I hope this article inspires you to spend some time playing with your inner critic(s). Life feels so good when you can free yourself from their grasp.
All my best,