The Inner critic. We all have one. Or two. Or an entire army of critics. These little negative naysayers take up rent in our most valued property…our minds. So how do we learn to share space with these critics without letting them rule the roost?
Identify Your Critic
Pay attention and take notice.
Sounding like a tape on replay, this little mind squatter often has a routine or pattern.
When is this critic the loudest? Right when your eyes open in the morning? When you step in to your office? As you are dropping your kids off to school? When you look in the mirror or are getting dressed? When you settle in to bed at night?
What is he/she saying? How often? What story is he trying to sell you? What triggers the critic and sets it into motion? Is what she says true? How much of what is being said have you learned to identify as or attach as belief?
Get Cozy with Your Critic
It’s important to become friends with your critic. If you’re going to be living together, you’ll need to intimately know your roomie and establish a few friendly boundaries.
Begin by creating a cozy character and name for your critic.
Maybe your critic gets vocal every time you eat, chatting you up about how “you’re so fat nobody could love you.” “You deserve to look the way you do stuffing an apple fritter in your mouth like that.” You might want to turn this critic in to a cute pink, sprinkled cartoon donut character and name her Fancy Sprinkle Pants
Maybe your critic chimes in every time you are working on a project for your boss by making sure you know just how inadequate you are. “You’ll never complete this project on time because you’re so scatter-brained.” “You don’t have the smarts for this. Wait until the boss figures out you’re just a farce hiding behind a degree” This critic could become a cartooned pencil with big glasses and spiky red hair named Number 2.
Now that they have a face and a name, they will be recognizable and less intimidating when they start chiming in. You are able to greet them.
“Good morning, Fancy Sprinkle Pants. You’re being awfully harsh at breakfast this morning. How about you let me enjoy my food in peace this morning?”
“Number 2, yesterday you said I was too scattered to make my deadline yet I nailed it! I think you owe me a chicken dance”
The friendlier you become with these critics the more power you own.
At first, you may feel your critic becomes louder. More incessant. Uglier. The truth is, your critic has always been this loud, this cruel, and this persistent. The only difference is your awareness of it. Awareness is a critical step to taming your inner critic. Without awareness, Number 2 puts a ceiling on your ability to thrive in the workplace. Without awareness, Fancy Sprinkle Pants shatters your self-worth. So while this new awareness may seem counterintuitive and extra noisy in the beginning, trust the process. Soon enough you’ll be hosting a whole cast of characters but none will be living rent free and boundless any longer.
*There is no limit on how many times you may need to do this exercise. Most of us have more than one critic and as your awareness increases, some critics will move out and new ones will move in. Begin this process with the loudest critic.