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  • Writer's pictureJill Hauwiller

Naming and taming your inner critic

Part 1: Coaching Your Inner Critic Series

For the last several years, I have been coaching women on mastering their inner critic through Linkage at their Women in Leadership institute and with my clients. Plus, in my work on emotional intelligence, I have found that building EQ capabilities also keeps that little voice in check. There are relevant and timely lessons on healthy and helpful self-talk for all of us who have let that inner monolog have too much influence. After all, we don’t want to discover that we are the ones holding ourselves back from reaching our personal and professional dreams because we have managed to convince ourselves that we don’t deserve them or can’t achieve them.

This article is the first in a four part series on understanding and then managing that inner voice.

The first step in coaching your inner critic is to become aware of it. So, let’s talk about what your inner critic might sound like — it’s your inner dialogue that has harsh words and judgements for you and others.

Examples of critical self-talk might include:

  • I am bad at this and everyone else gets it.

  • I don’t deserve (something good).

  • I’m not X enough (smart, competent, experienced, etc.).

  • I have nothing of value to add.

  • I don’t belong here (imposter syndrome).

Examples of judging of others might include:

  • Why can’t they just do (task) like everyone else?

  • Who do they think they are?

  • If I want things done right, I’ll have to do it myself.

  • They’re not X enough (smart, competent, experienced, etc.).

Your self-talk may follow different patterns, but hopefully these examples give you a general idea of the types of thinking I am talking about. Now that we have defined our inner critic, we can think about what triggers it. Are there certain situations, people, emotional states or physical experiences that are likely to put you into a spiral of negative thinking about your personal worth? Identifying these circumstances gives you an opportunity to address them and consider your response. Self-awareness is a core EQ capability and you can work on building yours by paying attention throughout your day to what starts a mental flow of criticism inward or outward and what zaps your energy. Starting to catalog what prompts your negative internal dialogue will prepare you for Step 2: learning to push pause.

If you’re curious about getting a grip on your inner critic and don’t want to wait for next month’s article, here are some resources you can check out in the meantime:

TED Talk: The gift and power of emotional courage — Susan David

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