A few days ago, in this post, I shared the many qualities that make up our inner critics, from Tara Mohr’s powerful book Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message. Because our inner critic is very different from our core self.
As Tara writes, “You are not the critical voice. You are the person aware of the critical voice. You are the person feeling perplexed by it or bummed out by it or believing it…You are the entity that is hearing the voice.”
Today, I wanted to share more insights from Tara’s book on how we can navigate our inner critic because she offers a helpful and compassionate approach.
Sometimes our natural instinct is to fight our inner critics. It’s upsetting to hear cruel words, so instead of consuming them, we get mad. Understandably, we feel frustrated.
We might get into a shouting match trying to prove our worth. You’re so stupid! your inner critic screams. No, I’m not! Can you just stop talking already? you answer back.
You look horrible! No I don’t!
You’re the slowest runner I’ve ever seen. I’m trying!
You can’t do anything right! That’s not true! Seriously, just shut up!
But, as Tara writes, “We never win an argument with our inner critics.”
Because when we argue with our inner critic, we just fuel it and bolster its power. Because arguing means we aren’t focusing on fulfilling our dreams, speaking our voices and nurturing ourselves. Because our inner critic has a long list of reasons why there’s something wrong with us, and it’ll just keep going down that list.
And, ultimately, because “We don’t ever want to make a part of us the enemy, to go to war with a part of ourselves,” Tara writes.
Instead, when we hear self-doubt, she suggests that we name the inner critic: “Oh, I’m hearing the critic now.”
We also can explore the inner critic’s motives. We can ask: “What are you trying to do? What are you trying to prevent or protect me from?”
Then we can better understand the inner critic’s intentions. In response, Tara likes to tell her inner critic in a sincere way: “Thanks, but I’ve got this one covered.”
Here are other powerful tips from Tara’s book on how to approach our inner critic:
- Separate yourself from the inner critic. Instead of saying “I’m having a freak-out right now,” say “My inner critic is having a little freak-out right now.” This helps to train our minds to realize that the inner critic is just one voice within us, and “not the primary one.”
- Seek out humor. Ask yourself, “What is absurd or funny about what my critic is saying right now?”
- Pretend that you’re putting all the inner critic’s thoughts away into a cup, box or bowl. Then move it into another room. Get back to whatever you are doing knowing that the inner critic is no longer present.
- Notice where the inner critic’s voice resides in or around your body. Then picture that voice withdrawing, or moving away from you.
- Picture a volume dial for the inner critic. Simply turn it down.
Everyone struggles with self-doubt. Bestselling authors. Successful executives. Brilliant artists and inventors. When we try something new, when we pursue a dream, when we reveal a vulnerable part of ourselves, our self-doubt will likely follow.
It’ll be there, Tara writes, when we take the steps to play bigger (whatever this looks like for you — a big presentation at work or starting to take better care of yourself).
That’s OK. The goal isn’t to eliminate self-doubt. “The goal is to hear the inner critic’s voice but not let that voice determine your choices.”
Because it doesn’t matter what the inner critic says. You don’t have to listen. You don’t have to let it dictate your actions. You’ve got this covered.