She’s horrible! - how to deal with your inner critic

managing your inner critic

In cartoons I often smile at the image of the character listening to both the devil on her left shoulder and the haloed angel on her right. But in real life it’s no laughing matter when our inner critic starts whispering incessantly!

When we’re trying to create our flexible dream, striving to integrate what’s most important to us in all domains of our life, it’s busy! We’re working hard and it’s easy to allow negative thoughts to creep into our minds…..

“I’m not doing a good enough job”
“My body’s here with my kids but my mind’s far, far away..”
“What if I get sacked, then what…”

We need to STOP! These thoughts neither support nor motivate us, so what about re-tuning the radio station that our inner critic plays?

Our barbed-edge self-critical thoughts just don’t help!

So what to do?

Firstly, please check-in with yourself.

Are you looking after yourself and in reasonable shape to face your inner critic? I know that when I’m tired and hungry and haven’t moved much that day, I’m more likely to feel negative about a situation. And from what my clients tell me; I don’t think I’m alone in this. It doesn’t fix everything, but when your inner critic seems particularly vocal, it couldn’t hurt to

  1. promise yourself an early night AND/OR

  2. ask yourself if you’ve been skipping meals or skimping on healthy stuff AND/OR

  3. simply get up and stretch a bit, walk in the sun for a few minutes if possible

Secondly, you can try these 3 steps to build self-compassion

  1. Be gentle and understanding with yourself. Notice that it’s hard. Give yourself a moment to take some deep breaths. Don’t rush into punishing yourself for the accusations your inner critic is making.

  2. Remind yourself that it’s not just you - we all go through this. Humans have evolved with a negativity bias that means we tend to pay more attention to negative emotions, negative information and negative experiences. This may have helped our cave dwelling ancestors to escape predators and stay alive, but it’s a lot less helpful for us!

  3. Try to calmly notice and assess what your internal concern is. Try neither to ignore or exaggerate your feelings. A calm assessment of the words of your inner critic can help you take useful next steps.

We wouldn’t dream of saying to others what we tell ourselves!

Time to challenge your inner critic!

Once you can compassionately identify and assess your self-critical thoughts, you can start to deal with them. Say “that’s just not true!” to yourself and deliberately replace that thought with something that is both true and more supportive.

For example:

Replace “I’m not doing a good enough job” with a mental list of 5 things you did achieve at work or at home (and I do count remembering to pick up my daughter from netball training…. .!)

You can also manage your inner critic by choosing to take a little deliberate action.

For example:

Replace worries that you’re not present enough with your family with a firm intention to turn off your phone for an hour or so when you get home tonight and reduce the distractions that are around. Then you can enjoy the sense of achievement of having done it!

It is a journey

Our inner critic can truly be horrible and we know that taming her will be a journey - so we encourage you to use the ideas above to make a start. Please be proud of every step you take.

We’re in your corner,

Kate & Debra

The Busy Trap - What's really behind your ToDo list, and how to take back control

Have you bumped into a friend at the supermarket and had the following conversation?

You: Hi! How are you?

Friend: I’m insanely busy! You?

You: I’m crazy busy too!

You wouldn't be alone! A strange cultural phenomenon has led us to wear “busyness” as a badge of honor. This also extends to our kids - they’re often scheduled to within an inch of their lives outside of school with extracurricular activities.

Busy.jpg

Somehow we’ve normalized — and even praise our busyness. But are we really doing ourselves any favours? The truth is, our insistence on staying busy can have damaging effects on our mental well-being: more stress, exhaustion, burnout, and an inability to focus on the present. And our kids come home at the end of the day as tired and stressed as we do.

So, what’s the deal with being busy? Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Here are a couple of home truths to ponder:

We spend a lot of time doing things we should do, or that society expects of us, or that everyone else is doing. Our houses should be spotless, we’re expected to have manicured toes and no greys in our hair, everyone else is sending their child to extra sport/music/drama/tutoring! No wonder we get a sense of overwhelm from all the things we do, compared to the far smaller quantity of things we’re actually capable of doing with the time available.

And perhaps deep down, a lot of us are using busyness as a way to hide from ourselves. Who would we be if we weren't busy accomplishing stuff? What truths about ourselves or our lives would we have to face that we can avoid facing when we’re crazy busy? Are we reassuring ourselves about our worth by making a link between being busy and being important and valuable?

We recommend coming out behind your “ToDo list” and taking back control of your life.

Here’s how:

  1. Ditch the “shoulds” and do the “want to’s.” Prioritise your ToDo list by the most valued tasks. Anything that’s not truly important to you personally, delegate to someone else, or just ditch it! What events have you committed to over the next month? Which of these are less meaningful, or events you feel you should go to (but don’t really want to)? Find a way to graciously relieve yourself of these commitments.

    When we pursue goals that we want to do, because they’re important to us, we have a recipe for high levels of wellbeing.

  2. Reframe success. Turn your “ToDo” list into a “TaDa!” list. Instead of being overwhelmed with everything you haven’t ticked off your list, at the end of each day write down what you have achieved. Then sing “TaDa!” and do a happy dance.

  3. Detox from your busyness addiction. When we’re on the urgency treadmill, it can feel excruciating to slow down – but you may end up getting more done if you try. Experiment with doing nothing at all for 10 minutes between tasks: the harder that feels, the more you may need it!

  4. Be the change. Reverse the cultural narrative around the pride of busyness. Resist the urge to compete with the “busy bees” or engage in one-upmanship. Your schedule does not make you important.

The truth is our busyness is self-imposed. It's in our control because of the choices we make. Instead, we encourage you to enjoy what’s important, be present with your loved ones and savour the moments.

We’re in your corner,

Debra and Kate

Face your fears - to make progress towards your work dreams

Imagine it’s a hot summer day and you’re at the beach. The water looks so good, you definitely want a swim. But, as you start walking into the surf the cold hits your belly and you stop dead – you know the feeling!

face fears resilience work you love

Returning to work or changing jobs or careers can feel the same.  You know you want to be in a fulfilling role that satisfies your career dreams AND works with the rest of your life. But getting there often means braving some cold water.

Do you want fulfilling work that satisfies your career goals AND works with the rest of your life?

Where to start?

When we want to make change in our lives it’s our own thoughts that are often the biggest roadblock.  We think and think about what we want, but our fears stop us taking even a small action.  You need a way to deal with the unhelpful thoughts and move forward day by day. We suggest giving these 3 steps a try.

  1. Recognise your fears
    What exactly are the thoughts that make your freeze? Are you:
    - Worried you’ve lagged in your skills?
    - Concerned you won’t be able to compete in the job market?
    - Feeling you’ve lost confidence?
    - Wondering how on earth you’ll juggle everything?
    It’s uncomfortable to dig around in your thoughts and feelings but once you’ve identified the unhelpful thoughts that are spiralling around and around you can start dealing with them.
     
  2. Reality check
    Once you’ve identified what’s freaking you out the next step is to bravely take a clear look at your fears.  Are they real?  For example, if you worry that your skills are out of date you might test this by reading relevant job ads and descriptions online. Maybe you have a friend with a similar background to you who could help you realistically assess your skills and give you some industry insights.  You’re looking for clarity with this step, so if there are skills you need to refresh or learn you can devise a plan.
     
  3. Take a small step forward
    Now that you know your real position, you can start to practically move forward.  This isn’t about diving headfirst into the deep – it’s about working out the first step in a plan that will help you achieve a broader goal.  What is ONE thing you can do this week that will move you forward and you can feel proud of? You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to take a small action and it makes the next step so much easier!

What’s ONE thing you can do this week to move you forward?

As you work towards your dreams, keep these steps in mind. New fears will pop into your head needing to be dealt with. Now you’ve got a strategy!

If you’d like help to face your fears and  do work that lights you up, get in touch. We’re here to help you.

Best wishes for now

Kate and Debra - Flourishing Mothers