Do you ever find yourself avoiding situations for fear of being rejected? Does it stop you trying new things, chasing dreams? Are you worried what other people will think?
If you’ve ever been rejected in a way where you were shot down, where it hurt, where it formed and shaped your identity; chances are you developed your very own Inner Critic who loves to tell you things like:
- I can’t do that
- People will laugh at me
- How embarrassing
- I’m useless
- No one wants to hear what I have to say
- I’m not important
This inner critic might meet you at work:
- I’m under too much pressure
- I’ll never get everything done
- No one even notices me
- I should just give up
One of our newer programs, the Confidence Reboot, supports clients in reigniting their self-belief, not only in the world of work, but life in general. In recent client sessions, the most common theme seen was a fear of rejection and out of this the most incredible, active and rehearsed Inner Critics. Not just small issues like I don’t look any good today, but big negative judgements that have been carried around for years.
I’m a huge believer in the value of EFT (tapping) and its part of all Reboot programs. The tapping process helped all the clients mentioned above to become more aware of their Inner Critics voice, minimise the intensity of it and start to change their thoughts about themselves.
I’ve read about many techniques over the years that have helped with settling down my own Inner Critic and following these recent client sessions, felt inspired to share a few with you. One of these may just make a difference!
WOULD YOU SPEAK TO YOUR BEST FRIEND THAT WAY?
- Imagine your best friend is in exactly the same situation as you. What feedback would you give them? Is it the same as your Inner Critic is giving you, or is it more helpful and encouraging? If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself
- What about your younger self? Would you tell your five-year-old self that you’re not smart enough, you’re overweight or untalented? Of course not. You’d tell them to believe in themselves and that they can do anything they set their mind to. So, if you wouldn’t dare be so negative to your younger self, why do it now?
TONY ROBBINS: AFFIRMATIONS AND POSITIVE THINKING
I know what you might be thinking, affirmations are cheesy and they don’t work. I understand and I thought the same way about everything from affirmations to vision boards myself. However, it turns out most of these cheesy methods can actually work quite effectively if you put an honest effort into them.
Look at Louise Hay who wrote ‘You can Heal Your Life’. She built an entire empire out of positive affirmations!
I started listening to Tony Robbins 20 years ago. It was retro style 10 x Cassette Tape program, very inspiring and ever so excitable. Tony talks a lot about everything you really want in your life coming down to wanting to change to how you feel.
As an example, the only reason you want more money is because of what you think it will give you. Like more freedom or fun or that it will lead to some form of pleasure. You want a new job because of what it will give you, the change of feeling you think it will give you.
He talks a lot about your state and changing your state, something he suggests affirmations will help with. He suggests, rather than directly confronting your Inner Critic, you can work to actively influence it by creating a new dialogue. This new dialogue with your Inner Critic is done by using positive affirmations.
TAMAR CHANSKY: POSSIBLE THINKING
If positive thinking and affirmations feel too much of a big leap to you, another idea I recently stumbled across is the power of possible thinking, an idea suggested by psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety.
She says, “We feel a lot of pressure to turn it all around and make it positive, but research has found that when you’re down and out and force yourself to say positive things to yourself, you end up feeling worse. That’s because our internal lie detector goes off.” She has a point here.
Chansky suggests a technique called possible thinking, which involves reaching for neutral thoughts about the situation and naming the facts. She suggests getting specific and calls it Editing and Inserting Modifiers to Right-Size the Problem. For example, I’m too old to get a job becomes: I have a lot of experience that others don’t. It might take a while to find the right employer who sees that in me. I’m going to start looking. I know how to do that.
Or, my life is a total disaster, nothing will ever work for me, I’m a total failure becomes: right now I’m feeling like things aren’t working for me, this day didn’t go smoothly, this project has a glitch in it, and that’s making me feel like a failure. I know this is temporary. When I work it out, and I will, I won’t feel this way anymore.
The facts give you a lot more choices and directions you can go in.
BYRON KATIE: IS IT TRUE?
This is a great technique I learnt from reading Byron Katie’s The Work back in 2004. The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the thoughts that cause the suffering. It’s a way to understand what’s hurting you, and to address the cause of your problems with clarity. In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions.
Bring to mind what your Inner Critic is telling you, then ask:
- Is it true?(Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?(Yes or no.)
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
We all have judgments running in our heads. Through The Work you give yourself permission to let those judgments speak out, you acknowledge them. You may find that even the most unpleasant thoughts can be met with unconditional love once we take the sting out of them with this process.
This is especially true with the thoughts about ourselves from our Inner Critic. Take the pressure off, acknowledge the criticisms, and try this exercise.
You can check out Byron Katie’s work at: http://www.byronkatie.com/
BRENE BROWN – EMBRACE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS, WE ALL HAVE THEM!
Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of five best sellers.
I find her work refreshingly honest and upbeat and a great promotion of self-awareness.
Brene believes and promotes walking through vulnerability to get to courage, and in her words, ‘embracing the suck’.
In her blog Courage Over Comfort: Rumbling with Shame, Accountability, and Failure at Work, she states that she thinks the people who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses in this world. She goes on to say this is especially true of people who rumble with failure. These are people who choose courage over comfort, accountability over blame, and are able to embed key learnings from failures into their lives.
One suggestion she makes is, rather than keeping things a secret, share your Inner Critics thoughts with a trustworthy friend.
Shame only works if we keep it secret, Brene says. So if I get in the car after a party and thought I said something stupid, I pick up the phone and say to my friend, OK, I’m in a total shame downward spiral, here’s what happened. At that moment, you’ve basically cut shame off at the knees. So find the courage to do the counterintuitive thing and tell someone what happened, invariably those conversations end with laughter.
It’s definitely worth a try. Check out Brene’s work at https://brenebrown.com/
I love Brene’s view of embracing your imperfections because we all have them! It’s enormously freeing, not to mention a huge stress reducer to stop holding yourself to insanely high standards. “Perfectionism is so destructive,” Brown says. “I’ve interviewed CEOs and award-winning athletes, and not once in twelve years did I ever hear someone say, ‘I achieved everything I have because I am a perfectionist.’ Never!” What she hears instead? They credit their success to a willingness to mess up and move on.
Anyone with an active Inner Critic knows this is not easy and I sincerely hope a few of the techniques mentioned are of some help to you.
Maybe positive affirmations or possible thinking is easier for you and I highly highly recommend The Work by Byron Katie. It may just let you see that your Inner Critic isn’t always telling the truth.
Remember too, if your Inner Critic has been active and practicing for years, it may take conscious ongoing practice of some of these techniques to weaken that Critic.
Have fun trying something new. I sincerely hope some of these techniques help you quieten your Inner Critic down.