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  • Writer's pictureJill Hauwiller

Start with Curiosity

We’ve reached the fourth and final step in managing your inner critic. These skills build on each other and complement one another, but you may find that one or two of the approaches works best for you. Recognizing this may require the skill we talked about last time which was compassion, as well as the topic covered here which is curiosity.

Did you miss the earlier steps on managing your inner critic? You can find them here:

Getting back to curiosity… curiosity rooted in compassion offers a kind exploration of your thoughts and judgments of yourself and others. When you notice yourself moving into judgment, leverage the other techniques like interrupting that inner voice and being compassionate for returning to criticism, but then, tap into curiosity.

How do you do this?

  • Ask open ended questions that allow you to build understanding or discover new possibilities. Create space in your thoughts for different explanations and perspectives. Be receptive to new information.

  • Set aside assumptions about the situation, other people and yourself.

  • Consider the possibility that your first reaction or judgment may not be true or complete. Once you have this mindset, think through how you can fill in the details to get to a more generous, comprehensive understanding of the situation, action or reaction.

Part of being curious is adopting a learning mindset. As you try out the techniques above, pay attention to how committing to curiosity changes your experience of your inner critic over time. Does it become less active because you are open to waiting for more information, input or perspective before drawing conclusions? If you find journaling helpful, noting the types of questions that are most helpful for uncovering new information and the reactions you get from those you interact with can be very powerful. If journaling doesn’t work for you or even if it does, check in with a friend or trusted colleague after you have been practicing curiosity (and the other managing your inner critic skills) for a while to see what they have noticed and how your other relationships and interactions are changing.

Taking a systematic approach to managing your inner critic can be freeing, but know that for most of us, it isn’t a linear process. Some days, weeks, or months will be easier than others. Fatigue and stress can erode our ability to quiet a negative inner voice. Be gracious with yourself and others when this happens and re-engage with the skills you have developed. Your confidence, relationships and overall mindset will benefit from continued practice.


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