How I came to know and let go of my inner critic. And how YOU can too.
Sometimes the little voice in your head isn’t so little. Sometimes it becomes loud, annoying, and downright aggressive, yelling “you can’t do that,” or “you’ll fail for sure,” or “don’t take the risk, there’s no reward.”
Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about what life could be like if you could just silence that voice? What amazing things could we accomplish if we were all free of judgment and self-doubt?
When I was training to become a coach, I worked a lot with my mentor-coach on my own inner critic. My coach described to me what it felt like to hear me beat myself up during our sessions together. She said, “it’s like seeing a wounded or abused dog in a corner: hiding, scared, and fearful.” Ouch. I knew that something had to change.
After working hard on my own personal path to healing I am relieved to say that I’m now able to silence my inner critic most of the time when she wants to pipe up and run (or ruin!) the show for me. Yes, I say her. If you name your inner critic, they become more real. So when my mentor-coach described me as a “wounded dog,” the first person who came to mind was none other than Cruella de Vil, the evil villain from Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
As with many of my clients, change doesn’t happen overnight. I still sometimes get in my own way when Inner Critic Cruella is piping up. In fact, I recently found myself in that very situation.
About a week ago I received a LinkedIn message from a prominent 30-year veteran of the financial services industry. She mentioned that she was interested in having me on her radio show because I was an expert in the Enneagram. “Ha!” was my first thought. The self-doubt started creeping in. I decided the right thing to do was to respond to her with someone else I know who is much more versed in the Enneagram than I am. I’m sure she would rather host that person on her show, I told myself.
I let the message sit in my inbox for a couple of days. During that time, I met with a coach friend of mine. We were comparing notes and discussing empowerment techniques when she reminded me of the importance of remaining focused on my mission to develop a thriving coaching practice, and how sometimes your “noes” reveal your “yeses.” Wow! I immediately shared the LinkedIn message with her. After she read it, she asked “so when did you respond to her and say yes?” I told her my plan to refer the radio host to someone more seasoned than I am. My friend laughed, “don’t you get it? This is your NO, which is revealing your YES! This woman sent the note to you…not your referral.”
I could sense Cruella rushing in, telling me all the reasons why I shouldn’t respond and say yes. I could physically feel my hands shaking, nerves running high throughout my body. My fingers were frozen on the keyboard as the cursor blinked, waiting for my response. Then I took a deep breath and thought, “I’m choosing to take control of this moment, not Cruella.” I started typing, telling the host that I would be delighted to learn more about her show and how I might be able to share my Enneagram knowledge. Then came the act of hitting the send button. I waited, looked at my friend, re-read my response, took a deep breath, and…woohoo! I did it!
I was reminded again at that moment that if you allow it, your inner critic is more than happy to run the show for you and take away your power. Not today Cruella, not today!
Does my story sound all too familiar to you? I’m sure you have experience with that not-so-little voice in your head. What do they sound like? How are they stopping you from living your authentic life? I would love to hear your story.
Some of my favorite resources to discover, name, and resolve your inner critic include Self-Therapy for Your Inner Critic; Transforming Self-Criticism into Self-Confidence by Jay Earley & Bonnie Weiss and Taming Your Gremlin, and A Surprising Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson.
P.S. My chat with Tresa Leftenant, host of A Wealthy Life for Her, will be live soon!