As strong women with goals, we’ve become pretty good at following the shoulds and have-to’s. In fact, we know what it’s like to want to take a nap, watch Netflix, or just wander in the park with bare feet, but instead we sit our butts down in front of the computer and get the job done.
Why? Because our Inner Critic or Manager is always right there with us, ready to list all the reasons why we can’t. Our businesses would fail, the children would be upset, the chores and errands wouldn’t get done, and life in general would fall apart.
And just for good measure, it’ll tell you very sweetly, “You’ll feel better once you get these things done.” And there’s the clincher. The musts take over because above all else we want to feel better, better than the tired, anxious, resentful self we feel right now. And so we listen.
But in the end, this never works. The only time this works is when the act of beginning something actually RELIEVES the anxiety and upset. But notice the key feeling there – RELIEF.
When we push on with the Inner Critic shouting (or “strongly suggesting”) we do more, we don’t feel relief when the tasks are over; we feel drained, depressed, or burned out. We reach for food, alcohol, or some other mind numbing activity just so we don’t have to feel or think anymore.
So what could we do instead?
There’s only one way to effectively handle your Inner Critic.
Your Inner Critic is a fearful part that TRULY believes your life will be better, and you’d avoid rejection, abandonment, and future shame if you’d follow the rules. But it also knows you wouldn’t listen to a push-over, so it plays the role of the “parent-knows-best” and gets louder when you don’t listen.
That’s when you apply 7 little words to change its mind.
“I love the part of me that…” and fill in the blank.
For example, I recently did this for the part of me that was afraid to stop moving in a particular direction because I didn’t feel all that enthusiastic about it. But my inner critic didn’t really care about that. He cared that if I stopped, we’d end up stuck and in the poor house. He cared I was going to lose clients by taking time off. He cared I was going to abandon everything we’ve worked for, leaving us with nothing and no one.
And so I lovingly said, “I love the part of me that is afraid if I stop moving for a bit, I will lose everything. I love the part of me that is afraid of the unknown and not having some direction to go in. I love the part of me that doesn’t want us to fail in life and be left alone.” And so it went.
I voiced its fears, and in doing so, I activated my inner love and compassion. I was no longer afraid of its words, but became a comforter to its fears. Its voice grew smaller in size, till it was just a scared child inside of me wanting to be safe.
I’d become the loving adult able to make practical decisions that wouldn’t leave us in a ditch somewhere, but also wouldn’t keep us going down a road toward burnout and depression.
Choosing to love our whole selves, no matter what we feel, is not only how we calm our inner critic, but it’s how we find our balance again.
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