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

Are you "living the dream"?

Have you ever imagined how your life would be if everything was perfect? ...Where you have a job you love, a fulfilled life and are looking forward to your bright future? What would you be doing? Where would you choose to put your energies? How would you live and where? Who would be in your life?

Big questions, we know! However, how can we “live the dream” unless we know what our dream looks like? ….You need to know what success and happiness at work and in your life means to you.

Now, we can’t predict the future, or anticipate random opportunities that come our way, or avoid life’s red herrings that send us on other tangents. And our dreams can and do change.

But having a vision of our “best possible life” gives us a reason to strive, and a direction in which to travel. Our vision can be clear. Or clear-ish. Or it can be fuzzy for now, becoming clearer over time. The main point is to be able to start aiming somewhere.

Having a vision of your “best possible life” will give you a reason to strive and a direction in which to travel

And not coincidentally, when we have a vision for our dream life, we’re “primed” to notice opportunities, and then take action, that will help lead us in the direction of our dreams. Our path becomes more smooth. We attract what we wish for. Things start to manifest for us.

So, how can you plot out what “living the dream” means for you? Here are 3 exercises you can try, to build a picture of your “best possible” life at home and work.

1. Skite sheet

Understanding what you love about your current work and life gives you clues for what you may wish to continue or do more of in future.

  • Note down the developments in your life that have given you the most joy (e.g. your kids? doing half marathons? your promotion?….)

  • Write about your passions. What makes your heart sing? (e.g. causes such as climate change? hobbies like rock climbing? innovating a new product? .…)

  • Think about what you could not do without in your life (e.g. your 20 minute commute? working in a team? your yoga class? .…)

  • Catalog the successes and achievements you’ve had at work to date. What work are you most proud of? What types of tasks or projects gave you a real buzz? What are you doing on your very best days at work?

2. Irritations inventory

Understanding what is currently frustrating you gives you an opportunity to avoid or circumvent these in your vision for your future. Knowing what you don’t want also helps you figure out what you do want.

Catalogue a list of irritations in your life and work right now. What do you not like about your work? What parts of your day make you frazzled? When do you feel out of control? What gives you a feeling of dread when you wake up each day?

3. Letter from the future

This is the ultimate tool for creating future positive possibilities.

  • Write down a free-flow letter to yourself, from yourself, at some future date - 1 year, 5 years, 10 or 20 years from now.

  • Describe what you've done and have achieved as a result of your life turning out exactly how you wanted.

  • What are you thinking, feeling and doing?

  • Describe the things that brought meaning and joy in your life or at work.

  • Don’t limit yourself to what’s likely or realistic - in this exercise, let your imagination run wild!

Once you’ve done these three exercises you start to make explicit (clear) what might have been implicit (less obvious or even unconscious) up to now. Getting clearer about the hopes and dreams you carry around inside you is a starting point to making plans for the future. From here, you can start to set some more concrete goals for yourself, with the confidence that you’re moving in the direction of your dreams.

We’re in your corner,

Debra & Kate

 
 
Live The Dream