As Promised your 10 Steps to Taming Your Inner Critic Bonus.
- The first step in dealing with The Critic is to recognise it for what it is. It is an habitual voice within you, but it’s not you. See if you can hear as the combined voices of all the people in your past that have criticised you or caused you to question yourself.
When I was young I heard that I wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t have what it takes to finish anything. Because my critic adopted this whole-heartedly and was very convincing on this one, this actually became the truth. I would start things and grow quickly bored while my critic had a field day. It would tell me I wasn’t good enough to finish anything. That I didn’t deserve any success a completed project, art-work, or dream would give me. So I would give up. And then it would be on my case about how useless I was for not finishing anything. It wasn’t until I finally started to become aware of my critic’s tactics that I realised this wasn’t the truth.
- Keep in mind that what your critic says is not necessarily (and most likely is not) the truth. You can choose not to believe it.
- Listen to what your critic says. You might be surprised at how repetitive it is. If you listen enough you might start getting bored with what it says. And it will, without any doubt at all, tell you something bad about yourself at every opportunity. Even with the lowest self-esteem in the world, you can’t believe that everything you do is wrong. Recognise that this is just the critics’ job and it will say the same things over and over.
- See if you can hear particular phrases or words that came from a particular person. See if you can hear their voice when you hear those comments. When you hear the words as belonging to someone else you can see that this is where the critic took its cue from. It also puts the criticism further away you and makes it easier to disbelieve.
- Listen for how your critic is trying to protect you. Somewhere in there it is trying to make sure you succeed, are protected, loved and approved of. Is there something you need to do to make your life better? Is there a skill you need to acquire? A discipline you need? Are you setting impossible standards for yourself that need to be more realistic and your critic is telling you this in a round about way? Whose approval are you looking for? Will you ever really get that approval anyway? Is it worth sacrificing your creativity and your authenticity to get it?
- Get a good handle on your critic so you can recognise it in action. Then when you hear it try to bring in your coach. Admit mistakes but encourage yourself to learn from them and tell yourself you’ll do better next time. Be your own cheer squad.
- If your critic continually points out your weaknesses, then fool it by looking for your strengths. Tell it that while you might not be Rembrandt with your artistic abilities, but you do have other things that make you worthwhile and valuable. Maybe you have great people skills. Maybe you’re a whiz in the kitchen. Maybe you have courage. Or compassion. Or commonsense. Or……
- Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t listen to the critic?” Maybe there are fears of being rejected or abandoned. When the critic first started its job, you were a child. As a child, you might not have been able to handle being rejected or abandoned. As an adult, you can. Or you can handle it a lot better. Well, you won’t die if you’re rejected as an adult. Also, a lot of the fears will be unfounded. As an adult you have the ability to question the validity of these fears and dismiss them.
- Give the critic a personality. Draw it, paint it, give it the personality of a TV character. Have fun with it. Some people I know have made theirs Cruella from 101 Dalmatians or have given it a name like Bruce so they can laugh at it easier.
- You can try acting your critic. Speak out loud what the critic would say in your head. Then play a part that would protect you from the critic. Have a big personal bodyguard that shields you from its comments or an internal coach to motivate and encourage you or ….. let your imagination run wild with who or what you would use to diffuse it.