"The inner critic will show up whenever we're on the edge of playing bigger, and whenever we're taking a new risk and stretching ourselves. And so we just need tools to deal with it." - Tara Mohr
Dear my friend,
It is Fri-yaaaay, Freakin` Friday, Thank God It`s Fridaaaay! :-)
How has your week been? I hope this week carried you mindfully, sent you love, and guided you to what your heart wants. Enjoy the weekend ahead! (A new episode of Marvel`s WandaVision came out today! :-))
Yesterday I participated in Tara Mohr`s amazing course for women "Playing Big" and the topic of our current module was the "Inner Critic". Having been in the Personal Development space for a while now, I have never experienced an effective deep-dive into the "Inner Critic" like with Tara Mohr. Let me share my learnings with you because we all have the Inner Critic in us - whether woman or man (or transgender) - that limits our potentials and quality of life. So it is essential for us to not get rid of or fight the Inner Critic, but, as today`s quote says, learn how to deal with this circumstannce. (Kindly note all credits belong to beloved Tara Mohr!).
1. Understanding the context of our Inner Critic
When we assess the Inner Critic voices, we quickly come to a conclusion that these voices may come from particular people that have, consciously or unconsciously, criticized us, or from media that suggests how to look in a certain way, or from society who instructs us how to behave in a certain way. But what Tara teaches is that although these forces, intensified for women by a patriarchal world, can be very strong, these external forces have not necessarily led to our strong Inner Critic. In fact, we have our Inner Critic that voices our safety instinct to protect us from any potential threats, risks, or dangers. That voice may have been useful and existential - as we know - when we lived next to saber-tooth tigers, so since we (relatively) face less physical or vital threats nowawadays, our Inner Critic has shifted its focus on any threats, risks, or dangers - on an emotional level.
So whenever we want to do something that our heart longs to do, e.g. ask this woman or man for a date, ask for this promotion or pay rise, go for your dreams that have been locked away for years - meaning whenever we want to play big, our Inner Critic is alert sensing increased potential emotional pain. "What if the man rejects you? This will hurt like s*it!" "What if your boss says no? Then you have made a fool of yourself! Who do you think you are? You are not ready, qualified, good enough to ask for more money!" "What if it doesn`t work out? What if you fail? What will others think of you? What if we waste our time? What if this is another wrong decision?" Are these questions or comments familiar to you? Then let`s learn how to deal with those!
2. Noticing our Inner Critic with curious compassion
What Tara Mohr is also teaching us well is that instead of arguing with our Inner Critic or trying to prove them wrong, such as "I AM qualified enough! I have proven this by doing this certification, that additional training, and this big project on the top." As you can sense, this requires only more energy and drags you down than really lifts you up. Also this suggests that you seem to seek external validation (in this case, from your Inner Critic) until you believe you are worth the recognition, fulfilment, or love.
So as a more effective approach, Tara suggests - just as mindfulness teaches us - to notice whenever our Inner Critic comes up and what emotions or stories it brings to us. So for example, if you want to reach out to your date and your Inner Critic surfaces by shouting, "No, don`t reach out to him. He doesn`t deserve it. You are better off without him. Rather wait for him to reach out. Who knows what his intentions are or how many girls he is texting at the same time? We don`t know him well enough!", you can then just observe, even if it may be emotional or overwhelming, "OK, the Inner Critic is here again. I hear you."
3. Bring in movement, compassion, and values
"What is it that you are afraid of? I understand that you want to protect me in case he hurts me or has other intentions than I do. And I do remember past rejections that hurt. But I also know that I want to get to know him and just explore where this will lead us. He may be not the right one, but how can I know if I don`t give him a chance? Thank you for raising your concerns, I will take good care of me, so now you can take a rest." This approach is full of compassion, values, and movement. Let me explain.
Compassion helps us understand the Inner Critic fears, but also send compassion to ourselves, while we are dealing with these harsh voices in our head. Tara Mohr nicely describes that if you see a scared child, you wouldn`t also shout at it, that would only make it more afraid. So bring in compassion, to whatever extent you want to and are capable of, don´t rush what may not feel natural right now.
Values help us immensely in providing us clarity and guidance to where we truly want to go. Our Inner Critic wants to keep us safe, so often in our "comfort zone". Our values bring to us a movement forward, what our heart truly wants and what brings forth our truest and fullest self. Knowing that our Inner Critic likely comes out when we want to do something new, exciting, unusual, can help us quieting our Inner Critic, while honouring and staying true to our values.
Movement may be the fun element here - to not only picture our Inner Critic as a character (for example, Gollum came to my mind), but also to physically pick our Inner Critic in our imagination and place them outside of our sight. A snap could do it, or putting it to a box, or guiding it outside the room. While you may not have done something similar before and tend to stay in your mind, try it out - sometimes humour and visualization can do big magic and help us ease our mental energy, that is currently active.
To a life where YOU are leading and not your Inner Critic!
Love, from me to you,
How strong is your Inner Critic? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Inspiration: Tara Mohr - Quieting the Inner Critic
Reflection: What are my values? (Think of a peak experience if this helps.)
Intention: I notice the Inner Critic without going into their stories, and choose compassion for them and myself.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural lover of life, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com