Mastering your Inner Critic
Do you worry that one day, those around you will realise that you are not capable of doing your job? That you will be ‘found out’? Do you continually worry that you aren't good enough to succeed? That, despite all of your achievements, you're just not capable or clever enough? You're not alone.
Hope Street Centre Director and Psychotherapist Maurice Tomkinson, and The Mind Coach Tianne Croshaw use different but equally effective techniques to help individuals to overcome limiting self beliefs perpetuated by the inner critic.
Tianne Crowshaw uses a ‘closed eye’ exercise, employing visualisation techniques to give facial characteristics and personality to that nagging voice, and then reducing its influence by making the voice tiny, ridiculous and insignificant. It is important to note here that the technique used is not designed to ignore the voice or avoid the emotions it might raise, but to reduce its power and to enable individuals to understand that they don’t always have to listen.
Whilst this ‘closed eye’ technique is best undertaken with the presence of a trained coach to guide you through, there are ways in which you can help yourself to master your inner critic. If you feel that you would like to do this, why not try the following steps:
• Listen to the message. Understand where the inner critic is coming from? Is it a parent, friend, schoolteacher perhaps? Speaking to your inner critic and understanding it will allow you to reason with it. Also, by understanding the perspective of your inner critic, you will be able to identify when it is telling the truth and when you can discard what it is saying.
• Look for evidence. In the process of identifying when the inner critic is telling the truth, you may wish to write down what the voice is saying, and then look for any evidence that it is correct. There may be a small amount of evidence, but the chances are there is also plenty of evidence that the critic isn’t accurate. Write down all of this too.
• Seek the positives. Believe it or not, there are ways in which your inner critic can actually help you, after all, it could be seen to be a driver in helping you to meet higher standards and expect more of yourself. Therefore, if you are open to it and don’t allow the negative messages to prevent you from getting on with your life, you can actually learn from it. A good way of letting this happen is to identify when the critic is speaking, and then ask yourself some questions such as ‘how does knowing this help me to succeed?’ or ‘what can I do differently next time?’.
The above approach, used by Maurice Tomkinson in one to one coaching sessions, adopts similar techniques to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - challenging individuals to examine the message, reason with what it is saying and then take the power back.
Ultimately, the trick to dealing with your inner critic is to develop a balanced relationship with it: to not ignore or avoid it and the emotions it raises, but to also not allow yourself to be bullied by it. As soon as you hear your inner critic, acknowledge the information—but always ask: is my inner critic helping me or hurting me? If what it's telling you saps your confidence, then ask it to step aside and continue on your way.