You’re on a work call (these days that means you’re likely staring at a big, checkered Brady Bunch-style grid of your colleagues). One person is on a rant. An unending string of observations, opinions, and snarky comments about how everyone and everything should be.
If this person is your boss, I’m willing to bet you’re involved in a highly motivated job search. What’s incredible, though, is on a 24/7 basis we give full reign to an intolerant, unsympathetic, often unkind voice in our heads. We don’t quit. In fact, well allow that Inner Bossy Pants to run the show, offering commentary that invalidates and disempowers us. The result is more stress, anxiety, and irritability in our inner life.
Speaking from my own experience, I began to take notice of the situation when my Inner Critic (or “super-ego”) became engaged in things like guilting me into doing something she deemed more likable, responsible, or a better use of my time. You still haven’t gotten that done yet? Hurry up! She doesn’t like you. He thinks you’re a moron. You’ll only be respected if you do this. Smile! Work harder. Why are you wearing those pants? Why is SHE wearing those pants? You look terrible. Tired. You’d be happier if you were doing this better. You’re just not good enough. This is what you deserve. He’ll never get to that done. You’d better do that yourself.
If you can relate to this inner insensitive commander, here’s the good news: you can help that voice develop and grow until, much to your surprise, it becomes your Inner Coach. This process involves vision, strategy, and skill. It’s a new way to communicate, a practice, but it can be mastered. Three steps allowed me, and now many clients, to begin to shift toward more inner gentility, enhanced wellbeing, and a whole new level of success.
Identify your inner critic’s commentary. Look for the root of what the voice is telling you about yourself. What is the voice saying that is disempowering? Unkind? (Hint: what are your biggest complaints?)
Reflect on the consequence of this choice (after all, it’s your voice talking). Be willing to be deeply honest with yourself. Is it possible that you have a small belief that this critical voice is helping you in some way? Give yourself a few moments to allow the question to settle. You are shining the light of conscious awareness onto the Inner Critic, maybe for the first time. It’s a powerful step. If you do become aware of some benefit you’re perceiving to unkindness toward yourself, don’t worry. Perhaps, for a time, it did serve you. But you’re here now and have other options.
Ask yourself: What am I sacrificing by allowing negative inner criticism to continue? Is this choice aligned with my values? What other choice could I make? Reconsider your initial, judgmental interpretation. Allow your inner voice to offer a comment that’s supportive of your success and wellbeing (the real outcomes you want).
There is a price we pay when we let inner fault-finding and judgmental comments run us. That negativity cuts us off from expressing the very best of ourselves in the world. Consider using the three-step practice above to look deeper at your most critical moments. As soon as you do, you create an opening, an opportunity to observe yourself like never before. Now, you can actively choose a more self-supportive narrative and you’re on your way to giving that critic a new job: the Inner Coach!