Margaret was staring in front of her and the tears were flowing down her cheeks. On the table was standing her laptop opened on a LinkedIn job search page. And there it was the perfect job offer that she was dreaming of. So what was the problem? Why was she crying?
She was crying because she realized that she was not going to apply for the job anyway. Why not? Because her inner voice was telling her:
- There are other candidates much better than you!
- You do not have the required skills!
- You do not have enough relevant work experience!
- You are not good enough!
Meet the Inner Critic
Meet Margaret’s inner critic, alias Mrs. Perfect, Mrs. ‘You are never good enough’, Mrs. Critical Parent.
Do you recognize this voice? Do you hear it often as well? Is it whispering or is it screaming, so that you cannot hear your own independent thoughts anymore?
So who is it? And what is it doing to your life and to the decisions you make?
This is the part of you that wants to keep you safe.
This is the part of you that always thinks you can do better.
This is the part of you that always has negative comments ready to remind you why you cannot do something you want.
This is the part of you that admires others and sees you as a small incapable child.
This is the part of you that will keep you stuck forever if you do not learn how to deal with it.
Well, I guess you get the point.
Transactional Analysis Theory
Eric Berne is the father of one of my favorite’s psychoanalytical theories called Transaction Analysis and was the author of the world renowned bestseller “The Games People Play’.
In short, the theory explains that at every moment in life, in every situation we are in one of the 5 ego states: Critical Parent, Caring Parent, Adult, Free Child or Adaptive Child.
When we are in our Critical Parent we use the language like “I should”, “you have to”, “I cannot”, “I must’ etc. All the ‘shoulds’ and ‘cannots’ belong to the Critical Parent. We inherit it from our own parents who teach us how to function in the society and how to play by the rules. The main task is to keep us safe and don’t make full out of ourselves.
This voice, however useful if applied correctly, can be the source of negativity in our lives. It can completely block us from our power, make us stuck and even depressed in the worse case.
The Critical Parent is the part of us with which myself and many of my clients struggle. But there are the ways to beat it up! I know it as I practice what I preach!
How to ‘manage’ your Inner Critic
It all starts with the awareness. So for the coming days observe yourself. When is your Inner Critic triggered? In what situations is the negative ‘chatter-box’ switched on? Which people trigger it? What kind of negative thoughts are being triggered and how do you feel?
- Acknowledge its presence
You need to realize that it is unrealistic to expect that this voice will ever stop. So don’t even try it.
Its main objective is our survival, so it’s not going away anytime soon.
The first step is to acknowledge it is there. Say hallo ‘Inner Critic’.
- Make a contact
Once you said hallo, it is time to make a connection. Thank your Inner Critic for helping you to get you where you are. It’s his/hers ‘you can do better’ that brought you up to this point in your career. Like any ‘creature’ it needs some love and attention.
- Realize the presence of other ego states
Your Critical Parent is only one of the 5 (or even more) ego states. It is definitely not the ONLY one. I will explain in more detail about the other parts in the upcoming articles. Especially the Creative Child and the Adult play an important role in managing your Critic.
Have a conversation with your Critic. What does it want from you? Make the Critic aware that you are a grown up person and you need less ‘help’ than when you were younger. Make the Inner Critic aware that even though you appreciate its help in some situations; you are not always going to listen to it.
- Act upon it
And here comes the hardest part. Act! So even if you hear in your head the Inner Critic screaming “don’t do it”, “don’t apply for this job”, “don’t start your own business”, “don’t make this video public”, “this article is stupid”, etc. etc. JUST DO IT ANYWAY! This way you educate your Inner Critic that you are responsible for your own life and decisions and not him or her!
So be brave, outsmart your Inner Critic and share in the comments below what are you actions!