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Getting to Know Your Inner Critic

They reside in your head and will stay “upstairs” until you acknowledge them for what they are, and invite them “downstairs," closer to your heart.

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Imagine a scenario where you are the landlord, and you have a tenant who has been living upstairs for as long as you can remember. The tenant is loud and opinionated, and has, on many occasions, kept you up at night, unable to block out the noise. You’ve considered evicting them, but you always avoid confrontation instead. Besides, maybe the tenant is right. Maybe your demands are too much. The tenant doesn’t contribute at all to the environment you share and criticizes you anytime you try to make an improvement in your living conditions. They don’t even pay rent! In fact, it costs YOU to have them stay in your home. And yet you let them stay.

Now you might be thinking, “no way! I would never put up with that!” 

AND YET WE DO.

Imagine that “upstairs” is your head, and the “tenant” is your inner critic. We all have one. In coaching we call it a “gremlin”: an inner block that may present itself as the voice in your head, telling you that you aren’t good enough, aren’t ready, don’t deserve success, etc. You get the idea.

Gremlins thrive on fear and creating feelings of inadequacy. They reside in your head and will stay “upstairs” until you acknowledge them for what they are, and invite them “downstairs,” closer to your heart.

Once recognized, it’s natural to feel anger and blame toward your gremlins. However, I encourage you to look at it a different way. Gremlins are there for a purpose. They’ve been with you since you were born; they are a part of you. 

It may help to name your gremlins. Let’s call this one Gail (a coaching acronym for inner blocks). Once you recognize how much Gail has been blocking your path to success, invite her down and let her know that you understand the negative talk was intended to protect you. Validate her for wanting to help, and acknowledge that it may very well have helped before, but that you’ve got this now and don’t need protecting. Maybe even offer your thanks. This is where inner blocks begin to be released and the foundation for a healthier relationship with your tenant begins.

CREATE A NEW ROLE FOR YOUR GREMLIN. SOMETHING WITH A POSITIVE ENERGY. REWRITE HER DIALOGUE TO SOMETHING THAT SERVES YOU. YOU DON’T NEED HER TO MOVE OUT – IN HER NEW ROLE SHE CAN HELP YOU MOVE FORWARD!

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

– William Shakespeare

Now imagine: the next day, on your way to that audition or job interview, your tenant yells down to you and says “you’ve got this!” When you get home that night, instead of hearing all of the reasons you may have screwed up that day, she says “Sleep well! You did a great job today.”

And you smile, because you know in your heart that she is right.

Mural in Burlington, VT by Boston-based artist Alex Cook. PC Lisa Hopkins

moment of selfcompassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life

-Christopher K Germerading
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