Do you know how to work with your inner critic? You probably know her as the critical voice inside your head. The one that bullies and nags you without compassion and tries to stop you from growing beyond your comfort zone.
This voice is like a mirror that reflects your fears and insecurities. It second guesses your decisions, questions your actions, judges and criticizes you, can be sarcastic and derisive.
Sometimes this voice appears in disguise; consequently, you might also know her as your inner:
- Procrastinator who revels in distractions like making cups of coffee, the latest Netflix series and the busy work of tidying your house. She is also fond of making excuses such as “this week just is not the right time to pitch that guest blog post. Because Mercury is retrograding.”
- Defeatist who will give up before you even make an attempt because “you are going to fail anyway so why bother to try.”
- Bully with a superiority complex who thinks she knows everything better than you and stomps on your creative efforts. The voice that asks “who are you to do this?”. And it jumps on any opportunity to tell you that “you are not skilled or experienced enough and not as good as everyone else.”
It might seem counter-intuitive to say this but the truth is:
Your Inner Critics’s ultimate function is not to make you feel like crap, although she does excel in this department, her main function is to PROTECT you.
She came into being somewhere during your childhood in a moment where you were ridiculed, shamed, belittled, abused, ignored or criticized for something that you said or did, or just for being yourself.
She wants to protect you from having to feel this type of pain again, and she does this in the only way she knows how, which is to:
- stop you from trying new things and from putting yourself out there
- keep you playing small and feeling insignificant because that feels safe.
Your entrepreneurial journey is a frightening place for her, so she will try to stop you in the following ways:
- you neglect growing your business
- you don’t take the actions that moves you forward
- preventing you from extending yourself and from creating pretty much anything that you truly desire.
None of this makes her sound like a very good friend; however, the key to remember is that SHE IS ON YOUR SIDE. It’s just that in it’s just that in terms of maturity she is stuck at the developmental stage at which she was created. Her responses are child-like and, while this is appropriate for her, these responses are not a good fit for the adult that you are now.
How can you work with your Inner Critic?
You can transform your relationship with this critical inner voice so that she becomes a source of support.
Following is a good place to start that will give you greater awareness of her and help to transform her criticisms into a powerful source of support:
Step 1: LISTEN to what she is saying.
As you listen, recognize that her words reflect your fears and insecurities. They are not some fundamental truth about you, your skills and capabilities or your value.
Step 2: Help her to FLIP THE SCRIPT because this isn’t something that she can do on her own.
To help her do this, create a container that can hold your Inner Critic’s messages so that you can better see them, understand her, and re-frame her words into empowering statements of support. To create this container, you can use your journal, a stack of Post-It notes or a jar labeled the “Jar of Positive Re-frames”. Having this visual cue can help to keep this practice instead of letting it be just another good intention.
Step 3: Each time your Inner Critic makes a comment, WRITE IT DOWN on paper then FLIP IT OVER and write a re-frame on the back.
For example, if she says:
“You are going to fail. Don’t waste your time trying to grow this business because you don’t have what it takes to succeed.”
You can flip this by writing:
“I am going to fail LIKE A BOSS. This means that I am going to try new things, to experiment and learn and grow. It is okay to fail at something. It is part of the creative process AND I am also going to give myself permission to succeed!”
You can keep these ‘flipped’ statements in a jar and read them regularly or post them somewhere visible such as on the wall by your desk or on your bathroom mirror so that you are effortlessly engaging with the positivity.
Step 4: Say “Thank You” for the inspiration.
Every time you write down one of your Inner Critic’s comments and then flip it, take a moment to mentally say “thank you for this inspiration.” Just like everyone else, your Inner Critic likes to be seen, acknowledged and treated with understanding and compassion.
Alternatively, if your Inner Critic is speaking to you at a time when you are not able to write down her comments, you can do this practice of flipping the script in your head.
Know that your Inner Critic isn’t going to go away AND you can partner up and be friends.
Your Inner Critic has a lot to teach you and this is just one way that you can begin to interact with her.
Through this process you will gradually surround yourself with positive statements that support you and train your mind to think more positively, which helps you to see the opportunities in any situation.