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Wrestling with my Inner Critic

Having an inner critic is normal. Getting to know it, befriending it, and detaching yourself from it, is the way to manage it.

Summer in the UK has finally arrived – just in time for Wimbledon and the school summer holidays.  However, instead of enjoying BBQs with friends and family in the garden, I spent most of a recent weekend in an air-conditioned conference room at the One of many™ BeVital retreat.  

One of many™ is the fastest growing women’s leadership development company in the UK and their flagship Lead the Change programme is helping women to sustainably change their corner of the world.   

As an in-house coach for One of many™, I was part of the crew, supporting the delegates to take back control of their health and vitality and to let go of the limiting beliefs, emotions and fears that stop them taking the actions that they know they need to take. 

It was a powerful weekend – there was learning, connection, dancing and deep, life-changing transformations.

I love attending these retreats as a coach and member of the team because of the deep fulfilment I get from supporting these amazing women to step into their personal power. I had many tearful moments of awe and joy as I watched the courage, strength and breakthroughs of each of them. 

And I also had some moments of personal struggle. 

As we set up the room I chatted with a new crew member I hadn’t met, and re-connected with others, and they asked me how my business was going.  It’s going well. I’m in a building phase, creating content, courses and marketing my new niche of perfectionism coaching. But it’s not feeling like it’s going fast enough, the results are coming…but far more slowly than my inner perfectionist would like. Unfortunately perfectionists are not patient types! We want everything NOW, and when it doesn’t come straight away we give up doing the very things that will bring that success. 

At the beginning of this year I decided – and I have been walking this talk – to do the small, consistent things that build a business. I’ve committed to steady, sustainable, incremental and compounding growth. And it’s been working; the foundations are steady, the vision is strong, the milestones are being met, and I’m gaining and serving new clients. But my inner perfectionist still isn’t happy.  

As I listened to myself talk about my business, and heard stories of other coaching practices going well, my inner critic began to get louder and louder.  

‘They are doing it better than you.’  
‘What’s wrong with you?’ 
‘Why can’t you attract all the clients you want, and they can?’  
‘When will you ever sort it out?’ 
‘Why can’t you do the things that work?’ 
‘It’s never going to happen?’ 

It felt pretty shitty. 

It’s a familiar script with familiar accompanying emotions. It’s normal, it’s human. And perfectionists are better than most at doing this, so this was nothing new to me.  

However I also noticed that these words and the feelings that come with them, hadn’t been around for a while. (My focus on steady progress was working.) Unlike a few years ago, they were no longer my normal everyday script. So what was going on?  What was triggering my inner perfectionist to shout so loudly today?

Eventually I realised what was going on.

I was on day 27 of my period. And I remembered that sometimes in the last days of my cycle I feel moody and angry, as if the world is doomed. And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I feel extraordinarily tired. And sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes my inner critic gets really loud, and sometimes it doesn’t. 

I didn’t feel tired. I didn’t feel the world was doomed. But my inner critic was wide, wide awake and fully alert to me not being perfect enough. In a room full of amazing women it had decided to spend its energy on comparison. 

So I spent an interesting afternoon wrestling with my two voices: my inner critic and my inner wisdom. 

“So, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to change?
 

“It’s OK. I don’t need to change anything. I’ve got a plan, just stick to it consistently. It’s working, I’m already getting results.” 


“Seriously? You like this speed of growth?  You could be helping so many more people!”
 

“Compared to two years ago, I am helping many more people, thank you very much!” 

“You need to earn more money, have you got a problem with money? Maybe you need to retake Be Wealth.” 

 “It’s not a money thing, it’s a perfectionist thing, expecting too much, too quickly and not prioritising the consistent work.” 

“But it’s true, look at everyone else doing it. You are a failure”
           

“I’m not listening. You are only loud because I’m on day 27. None of this is true.”

“I’m only going to shout louder – this is important!” 
 

“I know you are worried, but it’s OK. We’ve got this. Everything is OK.” 

So I spent the afternoon in this vein, noticing my inner critic, accepting it was loud that day but refusing to believe it.  I even had a little chuckle to myself as I thought about how the rest of the women in the room couldn’t see this inner conversation playing out. They probably saw me as a calm, confident, together woman and were oblivious to these two puppets on my shoulders chattering away to me.  (Hopefully!)

Being able to notice, step back and witness from a distance, allowed me to treat my inner critic lightly. To soothe it, challenge it, and to replace it with words and feelings from my heart and soul instead of taking it’s messages of failure and lack seriously. 

And my point is that this is all normal. There is nothing wrong. It’s how our brains are wired and how our hormones work. Being present to what is going on in your head, knowing your cycles and learning to detach yourself is critical to happiness. 

When does your inner perfectionist get loud?  Are there certain times of the month that bring it out or certain situations that scare it so much you can’t hear anything else? Knowing yourself and your inner perfectionist is the first step to managing it. 

Have a great day, and remember….your thoughts are not true!

Lots of love,
Thea
xx

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