Overcoming the Inner Critic

Critics

We all have it. That little voice in the back of our heads, barely audible, that chimes in the exact moment we get excited about doing something new, something that’s probably outside of our comfort zone. It says, oh you can’t do that. You’re not skilled enough. You don’t have the education. You want to what?! Follow your dream? Expand yourself in some way? I don’t think so!

And that voice, coaches call it the Saboteur. Pretty fitting in my opinion.

When I was first setting up the company my saboteur sounded something like “you can’t make a living from this”, “you’ll wind up broke in less than a year”, “you will never make it”. Even as recently as yesterday, I was having a conversation with my coach telling her all the reasons why I wasn’t going to take that next big step, even though it’s exactly what I want. She called me on it. I definitely didn’t particularly appreciate at the time; but it’s what I pay her for.

Why is this? Why does it have such a big impact? And, how can we make it work for us instead? Here some tips that have helped me multiple times on this journey.

  •  Acknowledge it’s presence. It does exist and everyone has one. However, you are not your saboteur. 
  • Understand its purpose. Your saboteur exists for a reason; it’s to keep you safe. It’s the one that says “don’t touch that” when you see something hot or the voice that comes up when you start dating someone that you “know” isn’t good for you. Deep down it really does care for you and it’s designed to keep you alive. However, simply “surviving” is much different than truly living.
  • Personify it. Seriously. Give it a name. My Saboteurs name is Dolores. She nags, has Einstien-esque hair and crooked fingers. By personifying, you’re taking it one step further separating it from you. This may feel a bit like split-personalities (and I’m a Gemini, it comes with the territory). But I assure you, personifying your saboteur will not result in you being medicated… At least it hasn’t for me yet.
  • Shed some light on the situation. Saboteurs like to live in the dark of our subconscious. It lives in the background like the soundtrack of a movie. It’s there, but you’re not 100% aware of it. What if you gave it a voice? What if you said out loud all the things it was saying? The most amazing thing happens when all of a sudden you turn up the volume and put a voice to those thoughts… They start to melt away.
  • Have the courage to overcome. When I started writing down all the things Dolores said a couple things happened. First, I looked at my list and was overcome by emotion. If you’ve read any of my prior blog posts you understand this is pretty normal. But I had to fully embrace all those words and everything I was most afraid of. Not an easy thing to do. But as I sat with it a bit longer something else amazing happened. The super confident, courageous part of me started to rise up and totally discredit all those things on the paper in front of me. It said, “I can do this”, “I deserve this” and “I have everything inside of me I need to be successful”. I am enough.

So who are you? What are all the amazing qualities/skills/abilities/personality traits you do have?

Compiling this list is tough. Why? We spend far too much time listening to our saboteur and all the things we aren’t, we lose touch with all the amazing things we are.

The core of your being, your best self, knows better. It says- I am capable, I have the experience, I have everything inside of me I need in order to be successful. I am good enough, I am lovable, I am worthy.

When I ask people what is holding them back from that next step, 99% of the time the answer is “I’m scared”. Guess what, fear is actually a good thing. It’s a signal that says you’re heading into foreign territory. Fear is the boarder of the reality in which you’ve known. Of course you’re scared! If it wasn’t scary, it wouldn’t be worth it.

“Failure” (if you want to call it that) is the absolute best form of feedback. It took many hard lessons and ugly cries to realize this, but I’m serious. If you try something and it doesn’t work (after the initial sting is gone, Hagen Daas has never let me down) you say, ok, so that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. What about it didn’t work? The whole thing wasn’t a failure; there is always something within it (a choice, a behavior, an attitude) that didn’t work. You ask the right questions, you figure out what it is, and you try again.

And when the saboteur steps in and starts to shake your confidence, tell (insert name here) that while you appreciate them looking out for you, you deserve this, and you are enough.

Going with the Flow


Surrender (wind)There are times in my life when I feel like everything is falling into place. I make choices that are in alignment with who I want to be, meet amazing people and feel so much connection and power within things happening in my life.

Then there are times that no matter how great my intentions are and how hard I try to make things happen, they just don’t. And since I’m so passionate and hold the belief that I create the things that happen in my life, I end up forcing it. The result is feelings of disconnect, overwhelm, and way too many expectations. This, for me, was last week.

Outside the small town where I grew up there was this amazing river that we spent literally hundreds of hours on in the summer. It was long, shallow and mellow enough that we would grab our inner tubes and floating chairs (and maybe a few beverages) and float for hours.

For the most part the river was pretty calm and the trip down was smooth.  However, depending on how high the water level was there were always a few rough patches. If you surrendered to the situation and let the water take you, you would come out the other side just fine and have some fun with it. However if you resisted, your floatie would capsize sending you into the (glacier fed) river and perhaps even worse, spill your beer.

We had one friend, Jenalee, that seemed to no matter how hard she resisted would always find herself stuck. I really don’t know how she did it. It was like she was a magnet to the edge of the river and fallen trees. If there was an eddy, she would find it. Drink in one hand and desperately trying to get unstuck with the other. Poor girl, but honestly it was hilarious to watch and almost 10 years later it’s still a running joke in our circle of friends.

Then there was Callie. Callie was always in charge of the cooler, which evidently made her very popular. It was a tough job having an extra dingy attached and having to navigate through the rapids with the extra weight, but she did it with ease. She was also always the first one to initiate the topless tubing portion of our river journey. Callie had no trouble navigating around potential hazards (rocks, hitting bottom, eddies, young boys with binoculars). She was always in control, rarely if ever got stuck, and even with the cooler in tow was often the one to rescue Jenalee.

Looking back, Jenalee was re-active. She would let the river take her and only take action when it was too late and was overwhelmed.

Callie on the other hand never resisted. She was constantly aware of what was going on around her, and was proactive to correct her course.

After reflecting on my week, I’ve learned that I’ve been forcing my way through the rapids and getting stuck in the eddies. Instead of going with the natural flow, I’ve been swimming upstream.

I know my situation is common. We see a goal, get so excited and force our way forward. Forgetting there’s a natural flow to help us get there.

That’s the beautiful thing about surrendering. You’re not giving up. You’re just saying, it’s not supposed to be this hard. Instead of forcing things to happen I’m going to let the universe help me a little.

There`s something in coaching we call big ‘A’ Agenda and little ‘a’ agenda. Big A agenda has to do with your soul’s purpose. What you feel called to do not matter how hard, unlikely or illogical it seems. This voice still may be very quiet and hard to hear, but I promise you, it’s there.

Little ‘a’ agenda has to do with the voice in your head. This is the logical one. In fact, it rationalizes everything. It tells you that you can’t do something for a multitude of reasons. The time isn’t right, you don’t have the money, you’re not pretty/smart/educated enough. It’s filled with “should’s” and “have to’s”. This voice is designed to keep you in your comfort zone. It’s very easy to listen to and always present.

I’ve learned that when I feel overwhelmed I’m listening to my little “a” agenda far too much. I commit to things because it’s the “right” thing to do, not necessarily because I want to. Things that other people say I should do to get ahead, not ones I know are right for me.

A common question for a coach to ask is “Where do you feel that in your body?” This is a good way to immediately connect with where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from you’re gut, chances are it’s a Big A.

The other phrase I’ve heard people say is being honest with yourself. Which ironically, is the hardest person to be honest with.

This comes from recognizing what your big A is, and having the courage to admit it. Once you admit to it yourself, it’s not long before you can admit it to those around you. Then something amazing happens, you’re back going with the flow of the river. And after that, grab your floatie (and your beer) and enjoy the ride.

*Note all names have been changed to protect the parties involved