Burnout and Your Inner Critic

Last week I was listening to a meditation by Tara Brach (it’s great BTW, details below) and she said that we have “deep habits of judging ourselves” that she calls “the Trance of Unworthiness.”  Not to be glum, but it made me think about what I’m hearing from clients during the Covid pause. Things like:

  • “I thought I’d have more time without my commute, but I can barely keep up.  What’s wrong with me?”
  • “Yeah, I guess I hadn’t considered that worry and the change of routine could be adding to my fatigue.”

Listen up! — Even though circumstances change, core habits like self-judgment stay the same. The stories we hear from our inner critic cost us a lot of energy…and that leads directly to burnout. Yes, what if your burnout is not coming from your To Do list, but from your relationship to it and what you expect of yourself?

  1. Get to know your inner critic:  Stop for a moment and be with the critical voices in your head.  Sounds funny, but I’m not kidding.  What is that critic saying?  What are your feelings around it?  PositiveIntelligence.com is one of my favorite approaches to managing the inner critic.
  2. Understand your emotional triggers:  What situations make you lose your mojo?  What people do the same?  What is it about those situations and people?  You might find there are common themes.
  3. Change Your Habits: Once you know what your triggers are, you can deal with them.  Maybe you need to prepare before going into certain situations with certain people.  Maybe you need to speak up instead of letting things go.  Maybe you need to listen more and offer others the benefit of the doubt.
  4. Relax and do some self-care:  The frantic pace of life today is one of the inner critic’s most powerful weapons.  Slowing down, meditating, spending time with friends or reading.  These are all ways to reduce the strength of your critic, and build the voice of your inner sage.

If the inner critic weren’t a thing, there wouldn’t be entire workshops created to deal with it! Whatever the solution is for you, spending some time with your inner critic is a great way to release its grip on you. The meditation I mentioned is called Mindfulness Daily from Jack Kornfield.  If you are interested in Taming Your Inner Critic for yourself or your team, please reach out.  It’s a course I teach for groups and teams.

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