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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Handling the Inner Critic

Handling the Inner Critic 
(And the Inner Conflict!)

We all have inner chatter -- various "voices" or parts of ourselves giving advice and direction at any given moment. Sometimes the inner critic just goes too far in its urging, though, and another part of us rises to argue with it.

Here's a quick process for quieting the inner critic in the moment, followed by a more in-depth process for handling the source of it.

Process #1

Step 1
Once you become aware of the critical inner voice, say (either within yourself or out loud, depending on where you are), "STOP!"

Step 2

Make a list of your positive qualities. Aim for at least 3. If you can't think of them easily, then maybe imagining what a close friend would say they like about you.

For example, someone I worked with recently said,

I'm adventuresome. 
I'm hard-working. 
I have great friendships.

Step 3

Tell the inner critic this:
Even though I feel this way, I also know I'm... 
[fill in with the list you made from step 2].

For example:
Even though I feel scared and don't feel confident about leaving my fiancĂ©, and I don't want to have these feelings, maybe I could start to make peace with what is happening. It's ok for me to want to protect myself and keep myself safe. I'm learning to trust myself more and more.

You're meeting the inner critic from another angle instead of arguing with it. 

(Just as in our relationships with others, no one really "wins" an argument!)

Notice what happens when you stop arguing 
with the inner critic.

Process #2

Step 1
Similar to step 1 above, say (either within yourself or out loud, depending on where you are), "STOP!" Then, LISTEN to what each side of the inner argument has to say. Write down what is happening within yourself.

Step 2

Often each side of the inner conflict has an unmet need* that it's trying to bring to your attention. This step might take a little exploration or you might already KNOW what the needs are. 

Here are some examples of needs we humans have:

Appreciation          Adventure          Belonging
To be believed in          Challenge          Creativity
Competence          Love          For protection
Safety          Power          Expression
Support          Acceptance          Connection/Community
To be heard          Respect/Respected          To be seen
Understood          Valued

*NOTE: there may be more than one need that isn't being met. Keep it simple and focus on just one at a time.

Step 3

Decide how you will meet the need. It could be as simple as giving yourself permission to have it! 

For example, you might say,

It's ok to want.... Right now, I'm choosing to do.... instead.


I see now that I have a need to be valued AND I have a need to feel safe. I wonder how I can do both right now?

What happens when you stop arguing 
with yourself and find out what's at the bottom of it?

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