We all have one don’t we…you know that voice inside that tells us we aren’t good enough, we should have done better today, we shouldn’t have said that, we’re lazy/stupid – the list goes on. Maybe it isn’t a voice you hear but a feeling you get in your body that makes you feel bad about yourself.......
The inner critic usually comes from a place of fear – an automatic response to protect us. We all know there’s a lot going on in the world; namely a global pandemic which creates a sense of uncertainty, confusion and isolation.
Have you ever wondered what that inner critic is afraid of?
Fear of loss
Fear of being unloved
Fear of not being good enough
Fear of not being enough
Fear of failure
Fear of loneliness
Fear of being fearful
Have you ever wondered who or what that voice is and given it a name? You might think I’m a bit crazy but bear with me…the first step in taming that critic is acknowledging it’s there and allowing yourself to consider its character as a way of understanding its purpose.
The next time you hear the negative thoughts or feel bad about yourself, take a second to notice it – what it is saying or how does it feel? If it had a visual what would it look like? Or if it had a feeling in your body where would it be? If you could give it a name what would it be?
A client of mine recently was surprised to learn her inner critic/anxiety was Darth Vader…yep that’s the one if you’ve ever seen Star Wars. She found it ridiculous at first but once she got acquainted with him and learnt what his purpose was, she was able to tame the out of control spiral of negative thinking that Darth usually created.
For me, I hear the negative thoughts and I feel it in my body. I call it ‘My Friend Fear’. Now I know what you’re thinking…how can it be my friend? Well mainly because its purpose is to protect me – yes it goes over the top most the time and limits what I believe about myself but in reality, it just wants to keep me safe. So by thinking about it in this way, I’m able to recognise it for what it is and learn how to tame it so it doesn’t limit me and hold me back from what I want to achieve.
What if I told you that there’s another voice but usually a much quieter and softer voice, the one that gets pushed down by the loud critic who usually takes over the show? Actually I would go as far to say that the loud critic is a hijacker of our thoughts and emotions.
The softer, gentler, and caring voice is the part of you that wants you to grow – it’s your own personal cheerleader; our biggest fan. It’s the one that steps forward and pushes Fear out the way because it knows you are enough as you are and you’re here to achieve great things… “Pipe down inner critic…move over, we’ve got s*** to do!” (I’ve just realised that this voice can also be loud if we let it and can actually be quite bossy…oh well, Fear deserves it when he’s getting too big for his boots).
So, we have Protection versus Growth….
We need both but clearly we need to moderate who is the lead depending on what we need at any one particular time. This means we really do everything we need inside…we have Fear for Protection and The Cheerleader for Growth. They both serve a purpose and I’ll let you into a secret…we can choose which one to listen to.
Which one do you want to listen to today?
In the Ollie model we embrace all these parts of ourselves and let them have a voice so that we can understand them more to create the resources we need to stop Fear holding us back and to grow into the best versions of ourselves.
“I learned that Courage was not the absence of Fear, but the triumph over it. The Brave is not the one who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers that Fear”
~ Nelson Mandela ~
Originally written and posted on Psychologies Life Labs Blog 20th October 2020