Is your inner critic hard on you when you make mistakes that have a negative impact on you and your company? I know mine can be.
How to tackle the inner critic.
It is all too easy to do, especially when you realize that the mistake could easily have been avoided. Years ago, that kind of thing would happen to me quite often. I would make mistakes and then my inner critic voice would be very hard on me.
My inner critic could stop me in my tracks, making it very difficult to be productive again. Eventually, I came to realize that we all make mistakes and that they can be a great learning opportunity. No one is perfect. We all make a mistake every once in a while and it is usually not the end of the world. What is tragic is how the inner critic voice can impact on productivity after the fact, as we have to deal with the situation.
What I noticed about this inner critic is that it doesn’t want to let go and move on, it wants to keep you stuck there, reminding you of the mistakes. In the face of this negative voice, it can actually be a struggle to get on with your work. The inner critic voice is busy undermining you and criticising you for something that is already over. We don’t tolerate it when it comes from others and we need to learn to address this inner voice as well.
What I have learned is that when I remember that I am bigger than this critical part of me, I can get a better perspective on things. There is more space for the whole of me. When I notice my feet on the ground and the chair that supports me, it is easier to keep things in perspective. It becomes easier to recognize the old patterns and just tune them out like an old radio set.
If you are like me at all and have had a lot of negativity in your environment when you were younger, these kinds of thoughts are almost inevitable, but you don’t have to put up with them. More recently in similar situations, I am now able to recover faster, get back on my feet again, and more quickly become productive.
Tips to overcome the inner critic voice.
1. Take a step back so that you can see yourself sitting in your environment, supported by the ground beneath your feet, and connected to the things and people around you. Allow the inner critic voice to be there, but see it in the context of everything else that is present in your life. Recognise that there is more to you than the critic’s voice.
2. Allow the critic to be there and see if you can allow yourself not to judge it. (If you are judging it, this is just the critic at work in another guise). See if you can let the inner critic voice know that you can see and hear it. Recognise that it usually has a positive intent, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. That voice is there for a reason. Usually, it is there because it wants to protect us. It was probably created a very long time ago when you weren’t able to find a better solution.
3. Recognise that the inner critic is not the only voice inside you. There are also other parts of you inside your head. If you can’t hear the other voices, it just means that the inner critic voice is yelling loudly. Imagine that you are at a meeting and one person is dominating. How can you get the quieter people to speak up? Apply a similar strategy with your inner critic voice. The critic voice can be there, but you cannot let it dominate!
4. Challenge it! Ask yourself, “Is it really true what it is saying to me? Imagine that you receive this feedback from someone else: “Is there any truth at all in what it is saying?” If there is, how would a friend or a colleague give you the feedback you might need. If it is not true, you can thank it for its opinion but answer it; let it know that you do not agree with it!
5. Get grateful. Gratitude brings a wider perspective. Even if you have this voice inside of you which can be harsh on you, there are many other things that are going well in your life. You have a job that brings safety and security; plus, a home and you can eat good food. This will help you realize that things are not as dire as that inner critic would have you believe. There is always so much to be grateful for. That is true, whatever your inner critic has to say on the subject!
About the trainer and coach:
Ruth Friedman is an experienced trainer and coach with strong communication skills and a track record of delivering well-received, innovative programs. She specializes in intercultural understanding, diversity, inclusion, and professional development. Find out more about Ruth here.