Is Your Inner Critic Driving You Crazy?

Is Your Inner Critic Driving You Crazy?

I do a lot of inner work with my clients and one thing that I love is seeing their Inner Critic exposed.  It is not uncommon for client to see me out for help with their business only to discover that they have the right skill set and action set but lack mindset.  But I love to meet and introduce them to their Inner Critics. Let's see, I have met some pretty cool ones recently: Hiding Heidi, Judge Judy, Worry Wart, Pattie Pessimist, Cut-throat Cathy…I could go on and one. Some have one Inner Critic with multiple personalities and others have a gang of them with kind of one leader of the pack.

I like giving the inner critics some new jobs to try out to turn her weapons into strengths and start using her skills for good versus “evil”. It isn’t about x-ing her off and getting rid of her, putting her in a closet to hide away for years and years. It is really about loving her. Loving her so much that she gets to have a new job and change the energy that she breathes and lives on. The truth is, your inner critic is powerful. They can help you get a lot of things done, give you a kick in the pants when you need them, warn you from danger—there are all kinds of things that the inner critics were actually working for you versus against you. Just look at what she’s been able to accomplish so far. She can get you in a tailspin in about 10 seconds. She can keep you front moving forward, even though your heart is longing to go to the next level. She has the power to sit on you and make you not move. She can take you from happy to sad in a nanosecond. She can keep you moving like the Energizer Bunny gone mad.

These are skills and talents and you can start taking control today. The trick is to actually take those talents and start using them for good and putting your inner critic to work for you in the highest good. The reason your inner critics get crazy and ornery and act in ways that aren’t helpful is because they want to keep their job, right? They want to protect you. They don’t know that you don’t need their protection any more. They don’t know that what you really need is their help. But when you can actually start channeling their energy into a good place together, you can actually work together to accomplish more.

I love researching this and have looked at different archetypes. I have seen some common skill sets that some of the common archetypes actually hold and have seen lives can transform. Some of the top archetypes and also the jobs that I found that they can actually easily be transferred into (redeploying) are:

The Comparison Queen.

Her talent is all about finding people who are better than you. In some area of your life that you are feeling less than, she has an eagle eye for fabulous people. The best antidote for her is actually to feed her inspiration or appreciation. And when you can feed her inspiration or appreciation versus comparison, she actually starts to turn into a talent scout, or a networker. She is a natural connector. But the issue is, she’s just been connecting in the wrong way, so when you start to feed her inspiration or appreciation, instead of connecting the dots to how you don’t measure up, or how you’re so much better if she’s surfing the superiority complex, she starts to show you ways that you can actually benefit from connecting and that actually creates love connections rather than fear connections.  Pat her on the back and say "Good job…I love you being a talent scout".

The Perfectionist.

Wow, do they have some serious strengths! Their strength is seeing what you could have done better. She can spot something that needs to be adjusted, could be made better, in an instant. And I know for those of you that have one of these, you know she loves to fixate. But instead of having her fixate on her obsession with perfection, she can actually become your professional problem solver, or your professional organizer, so that you don’t have to worry about all those problems, that you don’t have to obsess about all the organization. She can actually walk into your house and, instead of you seeing everything that’s not perfect, you can ask her to take over so that you don’t have to look at everything and think, “Oh my God, everything’s out of order.” You would just say, “Oh, Perfectionist Patty, can you make sure that that gets done and taken care of?” And you know that that it will actually going to happen and you are going to stop worrying about it.

Or you can find that special something that will help you be more organized. I have noticed a lot with shifts and perfectionists. They will find that one little thing, or that one person to help you get more organized, versus you having to obsess about it. And she is great at reorganizing your closet and finding people to help you. This is how one of my clients with a slight perfectionist edge manifested a housekeeper. She was awful about her home office cleanliness and clutter. closet. Now she has a housekeeper who comes once a week and organizes and cleans her home office so that she no longer has to stress about it. And she didn’t do anything. Again, Perfectionist Patty went out and found that.

The Doing Fanatic.

She is great at making a list. When I transformed my Doing Fanatic into my personal assistant and got her to hold my To Do list, she became my personal assistant. You can actually have your doing Fanatic become your personal assistant and trust her with all those to-dos, so you just toss them over to her and say, “Hey, can you prioritize that for me? Hey, put that on your clipboard.” And it instantly melts off of you.

The Worry Wart.

Let her go and run the worst case scenarios. Let her take that energy and go run the worst case scenarios, so that you don’t have to run the worst case scenarios. When you’re running a business, when you have a family, when <regardless of whatever is going on your life>, there is a real need to have someone that will just run the worst-case scenario for you. But then here’s the thing: you then get to run the best-case scenario. So, Worry Wart can go run the worst-case scenarios, and you get to focus on the best-case scenarios. And I know that she can do that job for you and do it well. She can conjure up some doozies, but don’t fall for it.

Loveless Lucy.

How can we transform her and give her a new job? If you have a Loveless Lucy, you know that she is fantastic at finding where love does not exist for you, which means that she can actually do the flip side. She can also see where love does exist. So make it her job to make sure that you are filled up with love. Make it her job to see that, and see how that transforms.

 

Do you get the picture? You are taking your Inner Critic's strengths and making her a superstar in your life. Start becoming aware of which inner critic is showing up for you right now, and how she could take on a new job, and then beginning to determine which job she might be suited for and begin the transformation. Imagine that your inner critic is sitting right across the table from you and you are her for a job. She hands you her resume. What would her skill-set be? And what is the job is the perfect match for her? Really breathe that in with her. You can even ask her, “Sweetie, what is the best use of you? I want to put you to work for good in our life now.” Let her answer for you. Place your hand on your heart. This is a huge perspective shift. All that energy that runs through you — whether it’s anxiety, fear, doubt — you get to start to transform that energy to fuel you. And that’s the power.

inner-critic-patterns

 

Four Stages for Shifting Inner Critic Patterns

We get to shift the negative habits that are no longer helping us but instead are hurting us. There are actually four stages of shift that you are going through at any given time. When you can be aware of what those stages are, you become a lot more empowered to be a participant in that shift.

1.  The first stage is the stage of awareness. When you become aware of the behavior, the pattern, or the negative thought, you make think, “wow, I didn’t even know that that was something outside of me…I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it”. It was unconscious. When you start to become aware in stage one, you get the ability to make a shift. If you are not aware of something, you can't change it—you are blind to it.

2.  The second stage is reflection. This is where you still do the same behavior, or you have the same negative thought, but afterwards you can look back on the situation and see what you could have done differently. So you may have a Comparison Queen who still comes up and she totally sucker-punches you, she gets you and you are off on a comparison tangent for a day or more. But at some point you are able to stop and look back and think, “OMG, I did that. That’s Comparison! That’s my inner critic”. And you can start to become an observer of the actual pattern and the actual thought, see what actually happened, and track it at another level.  Reflection give you access to stage three: changing in the moment.

3.  Changing in the moment.  The thing I love about stage three is that when you are aware of a behavior or a pattern, and in the moment you notice that behavior or that pattern coming up and notice the feelings that are invoked when she shows up, you are able to start to switch the channel on the spot.  When this starts to happen, you begin to create a new neural pathway in your brain. This happens physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. And as those neural pathways start to happen because you are literally exercising your emotional, mental and spiritual muscles in the moment to make a different choice–to go down a different path–those new behaviors start to become stronger than the old habits. As you keep building those muscles and going down that new neural pathway, you go to stage four which is integration.

4.  Stage four, integration, is where the old pattern or the old thought has been completely replaced. And you don’t have to think to change the pattern, it just happens, because you have established a new and more loving pathway. This is the foundation of creating lasting change.

inner-critic-superpower

Superpower Tools to Move Though the Stages

Now let's play with two super tools for you to use in the moment when your inner critic arises. My clients love them:

Your Wisdom Superpower

(1)  Let your inner critic loose. You can feel her presence. We know she is present whenever we are feeling any negative emotion–slightly irritated, enraged, depressed, feeling jealous, etc. She’s there with the megaphone should some big fat lies. Ask yourself, what is my inner critic saying? You can really say those words out loud with all the energy that she’s saying them to you. You can say them in your head, you can journal them. Sometimes I will say , Okay, all right, fine, you have the stage sweetie. Go ahead, let it rip. Negative Nellie comes out in full force. Take it a step further and just embody your inner critic and allow her energy to come through you. Say the statements as if she is saying them to you. You know, something like, “You’re worthless. Might as well give up now.” Don’t just say the words in your head. If you can, let them out. Let them out in full force. Act it out. “Who do you think you are? You are a failure. You are a loser. No one is ever going to love you.” Whatever it is. Remember that Loveless Lucy voice? “You’ll never be loved, kid.” This personifies that inner critic. It’s important for you to hear them spoken aloud in order to reduce their power, if at all possible.

(2)  Listen to your inner wisdom. Your inner critic comes out the shadows, into light, gets to take center stage. When you really feel like there’s nothing left for her to say, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then ask, “What does my inner wisdom know? What does my inner wisdom know?” Say it out loud. Notice what she tells you. No pondering, no thinking – just let your inner wisdom speak. Just use that intuition and really feel that energy in your body deepen and expand as she speaks to you.

(3)  Lock it in with a physical gesture. This is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique. Your body is one of the most under-utilized tools that you have. I want you to find some sort of gesture, some sort of movement that represents your inner wisdom and repeat back what your inner wisdom says, out loud. Marry it with that physical gesture to lock it in. It might be tapping on your heart. It might be doing a little dance. It might be rubbing your fingers together. It might be putting your hands in a prayer pose. It might be looking up at the sky. You get to select that gesture. Ask your inner wisdom what that gesture is. What is that movement? And trust yourself to find that right gesture. Movement is vital. And repeat back your inner wisdom’s truth while doing that small gesture. Make sure you close your eyes when you tune into it. So beautiful.

 

The Big Fat Lie Shift Superpower

Another super power tool that I want to give is what I call the Big Fat Lie Shift. Big Fat Lie Shift is a tool that gives you the power to strengthen the voice of your inner wisdom, so that you can really believe the self-loving truth of your inner wisdom over the big fat lies of your inner critic. I view them as Fanaticive, negative thoughts. They are Fanaticions on all sorts of different levels in our mind And they’re really patterns of thought inside our minds. They become so easy to start believing, because they are literally chemical responses in our brain.

Studies show that we have 60,000 thoughts per day. The National Science Foundation says that about 60,000 thoughts per day for the average person, and that the vast majority of them are negative. And studies also show that our big fat lies, our negative thoughts, are normally that we think the same thought that we thought the day before, the week before, the years before. So they really become these grooves in our minds and they are so much easier to believe as truths because we have been thinking them for so long. Our reptilian brain was built to watch out for danger. , so we become Fanaticed to these big fat lies.

Listening to our inner wisdom and to our truth, affirming our inner wisdom’s truth, affirming how amazing we are, is a much better way to go. But sometimes it is difficult to hear that truth above all of these repetitious big fat lies. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that your inner wisdom will always be able to be heard over those things. That is why doing the three-step process and doing the Big Fat Lie Shift is important. We want to impress your new truth that you want to believe upon your conscious and subconscious mind.

What your inner wisdom is saying isn’t always exactly what you want to hear. Sometimes what she’s going to say is the hard truth–the wake-up call truth. The Come-to-Jesus moment. Our inner wisdom is also the little voice that says, This is not the right business for you. Get out of the relationship. Sweetie, put the cookie down. It’s time to go out and exercise. Time to get off the junk food. Get off the couch. Sometimes we don’t want to hear that truth. And that’s okay. It might not be the most fun thing to hear. But guess what? She is saying it to you with compassion and with great love, whereas your inner critic will say it to you with judgment and with shame.

 

You have the power to choose which voice you are going to let come through. And one of the things that I really want you to get is that in order to strengthen your inner wisdom, you have to think about your life as an emotional and mental and spiritual gym. Some of us are obsessed with going to the physical gym to get flat abs and a tight butt, right? But we don’t talk about the emotional and the mental and the spiritual gym that we really need to be going to every day. And you’re in it, whether you know it or not. But when you know that you’re in it, and you’re actually actively flexing your emotional, and your mental, and your spiritual muscles every day by being aware of things like the four-stage shift process, right?

I'm throwing the self love gauntlet down together with you, taking a stand with you, to start taking back the power of what you choose to believe. Do you choose to believe the big fat lies of your inner critic, or do you choose to believe the wisdom, the truth of your inner wisdom? 

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About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.

Comments

  1. This is just brilliance, Rachel! I have all of those inner critics I think, in schizophrenic form! But giving voice to them, listening, turning that around for positive action, what a great prescription.
    It’s funny, I counsel my writers just this way. The doubting gene is on the flipside of the writing one. And I always tell them to listen to that critic, make sure it’s heard, and then say, “Okay, you might be right. But right now, I have a paragraph, scene, chapter to write. I’ll get back to you later.” Which just shuts its big fat mouth up 🙂
    I like asking it to do something useful as well!
    Susan Mary Malone recently posted…Do You Know The Value Of Your Self Worth?My Profile

  2. Lots of great information here, Rachel. Thanks for sharing. I’m a comparison queen, not doubt. This is wonderful and very entertaining. I am going to bookmark this post for future use.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Spring Cleaning Digital Files Like a RockstarMy Profile

  3. I am a doing addict. I agree the first step is awareness, and I think the second step is the hardest is reflection. I know my health coach clients want to go from, oh yeah I am that to doing something about it, but without reflection it seems to fall flat. I will be sharing this. Others need to read.
    Karen recently posted…8 Best Foods to Detox Your Body This SpringMy Profile

  4. This was the equivalent of 5 blogs. So much information & psychology theory I had to read it 3 times. It seems a unique way to work with your clients because we all have inner critics. Guiding someone to turn the inner critic into useful, wise voices is fabulous. I agree with Susan who called this brilliant & you should explore how you can monetise it.

  5. Fabulous post Rachel! I will have to return and reread it again…and maybe again. I would say we all have these inner critics at different times and to different degrees. I certainly recognize myself in each one. My main inner critic is definitely the perfectionist, but mine is self-perfectionism. When I was younger I would think “What is the point of singing if you can’t be as good as Barbra Streisand.” I might have shared this before, however, the point is, the joy of doing it is probably a good reason enough. Definitely awareness is key and then the ability to step back and observe yourself as it is happening. I love all your examples to how to move from critic and enlist her to actually help you. Thoroughly enjoyed how much information and research you put into this post. What is the origin?
    Beverley Golden recently posted…Hippie: Think Values Not LifestyleMy Profile

    • Hi Beverley,

      The origin is from years of my own inner work and from deep processes with numerous clients. You might want to read Carl Jung’s work.

      AKA ”gremlin’ and ‘The Judge’.

  6. Wow! This is one powerhouse of a blog article! My favorite part–the one that I will take away and enact in my life–is the physical gesture of my inner wisdom. I think this is a powerful, motivational act that will help squash my inner critic whenever she decides to speak. There is so much thought that goes into how we act and what we do; however, I don’t think most people realize how often our thoughts end up being self-sabotaging. Really terrific information and advice!

  7. Hi Rachel,

    Great post. I think a lot of us have the inner critics and as you said, we don’t realize it most of the time. I know I am actively trying to watch/catch myself when one of these critics try to steer me in the wrong directions.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. What an excellent share Rachel! So many of us have inner critics that need worked on 🙂 I know I do! Thanks for the breakdown of each one and how to make them work in our favor 🙂 Great tips!
    Joan M Harrington recently posted…How To Use The Powerful Marketing Strategy of Storytelling In Your BusinessMy Profile

  9. I don’t mind having an inner critic. As long as she gives constructive criticism.

  10. Hi Rachel,

    Excellent post! It is as though the obvious you (critic) wakes up five minutes before you and you have to actively manage it on a daily basis.

    –Michael
    Michael recently posted…529 College Savings Plan: OverviewMy Profile

  11. Hi Rachel,

    Wow! This is amazing and I actually clapped when reading this. I did Inner-Critic work in therapy and in group sessions. I worked on this for so long. You my dear are way better than my therapist had been. This is the stuff I paid a very high price for to learn.

    I had a few inner critics that got me mentally, emotionally and physically ill in the past. It took a lot of work to understand what this was at first. Once I gave it a name – The Inner Critic – and went for NLP I do have control. Yes indeed we do have that superpower within us and all we have to do is use it.

    Be Blessed,

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…SEO Basics | And BeyondMy Profile

  12. What a totally awesome post Rachel!

    And I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the “inner voice” so accurately
    described!

    It’s almost “Sybil” with all of the multiple personalities going on!LOL!

    Boy, what a constant burden to have to try & effectively deal with on top of everything else!

    But you certainly properly diagnosed the problems superbly Dr.Rachel!LOL!

    I laughed as much as I constantly nodded my head in agreement with your extremely
    sound assessments!

    You know, you just might have yourself a paid webinar series if you want to!LOL!

    Because the info you shared is just that eye opening!
    And please forgive my analysis of the obvious, if you already do!LOL!

    Great job and thanks so much for sharing it!
    Mark recently posted…So How Does A Part Time Pizza Server Benefit From Online Marketing Without A Website Or Email List?My Profile

    • Hi Mark,

      Glad that my post entertained you…I laughed too.  This particular post was not supposed to be published on my blog; however, I did not realize it until I went to respond to comments and saw exactly what had been published.  I gave a new assistant two versions–one very abbreviated version and a detailed version (for my clients) but she mistakenly reversed them.

      Dr, Rachel (LOL)

  13. Fabulous post, Rachel. Very insightful and I already see how I can channel Perfectionist Patty and Loveless Lucy into my cheerleaders and helpers. Love this post!
    Carol Rundle recently posted…6 Things You Can Eat to Restore Your Gut HealthMy Profile

  14. What a great post! The inner battle is the most important battle. Happiness always comes from within.

  15. Hey Rachel,

    This post remind me of the native American story of the two wolves.

    A grandfather was telling his grandson about the conflict of two wolves. One was filled with hate, criticsm, jealosy, fear while the other was filled with joy, love, confidence, and inspiration.

    The grandson answered which of the wolves wins and the grandfather replied the one you feed the most.

    Whatever we focus on becomes bigger and stronger. We all have this inner critic but depending on how we use it will determine the outcome.

    Thanks for sharing Rachel! Have a great weekend!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Diversify Your Shares With The Social Warfare WordPress PluginMy Profile

  16. 60,000 thoughts per day. HOLY COW that is a lot on our minds. I love that you shared some of the things that could be holding us back followed by ways to improve and turn these on their heads to create success. Rocking it!

  17. Wow Rachael, you really put your heart and soul into this one. The idea of transforming the different aspects of the inner critic into a supportive role is brilliant. When you try to banish something it never goes away, it just lurks in the background and waits for an opportune time to resurrect itself. By having a new role, the inner critic can no longer be an immobilizing force of moving forward in a positive manner. Thanks for such an in-depth explanation.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…Do you let Ben Franklin make your decisions?My Profile

  18. Awareness is so vital. I know that worry is my default setting. I also know I have a strong self-protection instinct. These two cuties go hans-in-hand. In some ways they have served me well in my life. But now, as you point out, they hold me back. Time to transform that energy!

  19. Hi Rachel,

    First time here 🙂

    What an awesome post. I’ve spent the last several years doing a LOT of inner-work. It’s amazing what you finally see once you’re willing to open your eyes and question your beliefs.

    A lot of what you’re describing here reminds me of shadow work. It’s the act of observing what/who resides in you that you’ve judged and disowned and allowing this into your immediate awareness. You then integrate all of this into your entire being. That which we don’t acknowledge about ourselves still resides there – and eventually controls our lives.

    There are so many benefits to inviting our emotions to communicate with us freely. So many of us run away from ourselves and try to mask the painful symptoms of our lives. Awareness really is a friend – but it takes some courage to look the darkness within us and face these things head on.

    As you’ve mentioned though, once you do, you can make them work FOR you. That’s the deliberate integration.

    Loved this. Donna shared this on FB and it grabbed my attention.
    Great to meet you.
    Dana recently posted…What is the Ego (and is it our enemy?)My Profile

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Like you, I have been doing tons of inner work.  I once naively asked Bob Proctor about when could I expect to be healed–when did he ‘arrive’.  He answered that we never do arrive…there are layers…we will always be ‘getting it’.  I love observing how things just seemingly bubble up out of nowhere.

  20. This is a wonderful post! I love the idea of embracing your inner critics in order to transform them instead of trying to shut them up permanently. I agree there is no much power in them and you’ve made it so clear how one can harness that power for self-love and attracting wonderful things.

  21. Great insight into the inner critic. Thanks rachel for sharing

  22. Excellent excellent, super post Rachel.

    The inner critic dissolves into fun, and trust, and hell, it dissolves in the moment. Wisdom steps in when you are aware of your critic, when you stop trying/being a Doing Monster, and when you let fun and appreciation and connecting and creating lead the way. All an energy thing, every time, every time.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

  23. Brilliant. I will be reading this article several times! It kind of reminds me of a therapy I once saw demonstrated with children who were overcome with nightmares: they had to change the characters around. If a child had a recurring nightmare of a green goblin chasing them, then the child had to draw pictures of the green goblin turning into a pistachio ice-cream cone, and then the child was to pretend to gobble it up. But employing our inner critics to our advantage … brilliant, brilliant work.
    Joan Potter recently posted…IT’S HAPPENING!My Profile

  24. What a great idea to embrace and love your inner critic! And great how-to steps to move forward in a positive direction. I especially like the NLP tip. Good stuff!

  25. I think I’ve gone through each one at one time or another, but I suppose that’s true of most entrepreneurs. What great advice and clearly given steps you’ve given us. Thanks!!!

  26. This is a great article! We should never underestimate the power of our inner voice. Having a conversation with ourselves is essential not for all the good things we are going to find out but the bad things too. I totally love what you wrote there! Thank you!

    Zaria
    Psychic Nest recently posted…Chakra Balancing with Guided MeditationsMy Profile

  27. An interesting article, we all have an inner critic I guess. And true, it is often a problem of mindset, that we doubt ourselves too much…

  28. My goodness woman; what a wonderful post! I’m not sure I can write a comment to do it justice… but I’m going to try. 🙂

    I’ll admit that I battle my inner critic all the time. Luckily, in general I don’t tend to let people tell me what to do or define me, and that includes me as well. There are times when I look at something and wonder if it’s good enough. Then I tell myself to stop comparing it to other things I’ve done and just put it out there… and it’s always good enough, sometimes better than that. The last thing I ever want to do is fall into the Michael Jackson syndrome of not being happy because I can’t top whatever my best work might be; what a horrible way that is to live, and ultimately frustrating.

    I’m not sure which of these Nike’s mantra fits into, but here it is: “Just do it.” 😉
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Determine Who And What You Are Regardless Of OthersMy Profile

    • Hey Mitch!  

      You know, somehow I had you pegged as a perfectionist.  I don’t know what content that I read to give me that idea.  

      One of the things I had to tell myself repeatedly until it was embedded was that done is better than perfect.  

      Thanks for commenting and, yes, you did it justice 😉

  29. This is a beautiful post in so many ways. You have done marvelous work explaining this important topic and opening people to the concept of embracing all parts of themselves.

  30. Hi Rachel,
    What a powerful message and beautiful in so many ways! We do have a choice and the power to make decisions for ourselves.
    Thank you for sharing!