Quiet Your Inner Critic’s Yammering, part 2

Great! You have started to notice when your pesky inner critic starts yammering away. That is the first step. Now you need to do something to put up a baffle to absorb the sound, so you can pay attention to what is real and not what is an unproductive distraction, so you can get more of the right things done. Today. Not some magical day in the future when you have done enough to stun your inner critic into silence.

Creating change takes time practice and a long frank look in the mirror to simply notice what holds us back and the role that negative self-talk plays in our lives. This will drive you inner critic batty because you are not responding. Now you also have a sense of the myths your self-sabotaging inner critic is whispering. You have choices to make:

  1. Believe the myths and proceed of normal
  2. Do something different: what other narrative could you use in place of the myth? What other reaction or steps could you take?
  3. Not doing anything at all. You just move on to something else.

Make Head or Tails of Your Inner Critic’s Yammering

How do I make sense of this yammering and what might be true? Good question. You need to be able to tell the difference so you can decide on the appropriate course of action.

Starting by making sure you know your habits. This is a blindingly obvious place to start. Your habits are some ingrained sometimes its easy to make assumptions about how you act or react.  When in fact what happens, what you think, what you do, can be unexpected and part of what feeds the inner critic. Don’t make any assumptions. Take the time to really know your normal response to situations and feelings to situations. And to people.

Put Up the Sound Baffle To Quiet Your Inner Critic

I can give you some concrete approaches that work for to quiet your inner critic, but there is an art to applying the two I have explored in this miniseries. That art of learning how to use these to quiet your own inner critic and the next key in stopping the yammering. Or at least not falling into an old routine of being bewitched by it so you get stuck.

There are some common scenarios where getting stuck happens.

  • Your inner critic maybe so crafty and quiet it is you are straining to hear exactly what it’s saying. Or to even notice when it is yammering away, until it’s too late.
  • Your habits that served you well for many years may be so reflexive, it is hard to see exactly what they are.
  • You might be clear about who is yammering, exactly what they are saying and even now your habits, but can’t seem to quiet that inner critic.

If you come up against any of these common stumbling blocks I can help. I want to help. 

Busy professionals spend an enormous amount of time in their heads at work, at home, thinking about the next immediate task, solving problems, sorting through the deluge of media, that any extra noise is mental clutter you can’t afford. What I have seen is a learning a few skills can help you turn down the volume, quieting your inner critic. Once you have quieted the mental noise, and you can focus on what is fundamentally important, the you can thoughtfully consider how you spend your time, and get more of the right things done.

If I can help you please contact me for a complementary 30 minute Discovery Session. During which we will do three things: 1) get clear about what you really want that you inner critic is getting in the way of; 2) explore how your inner critic and anything else is getting in the way, and; 3) discuss some next steps.

Quiet Your Inner Critic’s Yammering, part 1

We can be own best enemies, our harshest critics and the most artful self-saboteurs.  Negative self talk is a powerful and very often unconscious act, that gets in the way for so many smart, busy professionals and can quickly leave you feeling like the rug has been pulled out from underneath your feet. With all of the distracting and destructive yammering its hard to get more of the right things done and easy to fritter away your time.  I have written about this before, but recent conversations with several clients and colleagues made me think it is worth revisiting.

Words can quite literally create realities and worlds. Take the Declaration of Independence as an example.  You create your life by the stories you tell yourself, in your thoughts and actions.  The stories we tell ourselves profoundly influence our experience of the world and what we do (or not do). Furthermore you might not fully aware of the stories you tell, especially the self-sabotaging ones because they are automatic and dwell beneath the surface of our daily busyness.

Here are some examples of common self-sabotaging statements or stories:

  • You will ever be able to ______________________________.
  • You’ll never measure up.
  • There’s value in guilt.
  • You are the only person who can do this the right way.
  • You’ll never be a leader.
  • To show fear is weakness or foolish or childish.
  • Busy people are productive people

Anything ring a bell for you? Feel to make up your own list There are endless possibilities because our self-saboteurs are very resourceful and creative. The story may even change based on the circumstance at hand.

So what the heck do you do to stop the unhelpful chatter?

Here is the first place to start. Just notice. That’s it. Notice what is happening when that little voice starts yammering away.

  • Are you in a meeting with a colleague to pushes your buttons?
  • Are you working on something that was gone a muck in the past?
  • Maybe you are stuck trying to figure out how to delegate some of the 500 things on your to do list?

Ta-Da! You have begun to quiet the yammering.

By shifting your normal and automatic ways of thinking and doing you can create lasting change.  That will take effort, so it is best not to complicate the process with lots of strain. Save that energy for your workout when you can burn off some of the stress the yammering voice has been causing you.  First you notice what is going on, you do not, I repeat do not, need to figure anything out. Instead apply the Zen Theory of Change.

“I free myself, not by trying to be free,

but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself

 in the very moment I am imprisoning myself.” ~ Lao Tzu.

In other words, notice what is the natural order of things in your life and thoughts now. Work with these things, not against them. Forcing change is what sets up and re-enforces resistance. Just Notice- for now. Ever notice when you have tried to change NOW that suddenly all you can think about is what you want to change, why you cannot change it, or how hard it will be to change it, or everything will be fine just as soon as this other thing gets done, or what the heck one more cookie will not matter.

For some more quick tips on how to quiet your negative self talk watch this 3 minute video.

How to Make Time For Work and Play

For many people summer is a time of loosening of schedules for some folks, like maybe your kids, but not everyone like you. Or if you are like me, your husband’s schedule loosens up, but your schedule does not.  The tug between finishing EVERYTHING on your plate and  enjoying some play time, say running around outside blowing bubbles (or whatever is great fun for you) can be stronger than ever. Here’s an idea frame your workdays so that you get things done AND preserve time for fun, playtime, this summer.  So how exactly do this without falling prey to the guilt monster? For me the answer is two-fold: 1) setting a very narrow but deliberately focused set of non-negotiable for my day (the things I must do some work on that day in order to keep moving forward even 5 minutes counts) and; 2) learning to be at ease with ambivalence or the undone. Sometimes number 2 is simply an act of faith, choosing to believe that all will be okay and that the world will continue to rotate on its axis if you are not at the office, or some things on your to do list does not get done. There is always one more email that could be sent, one more task to do. Tomorrow they will still be there, I remind myself.

Here’s a mini challenge I am setting up for myself this summer that I want to invite you to consider. Draw up a list of the fun /play activities you would like to do this summer. Post it where you cannot miss it during your workday. At least 2 workdays pick one to be your reward at the end of the day. So you might not have the mental energy to spend 3 hours reading a pleasure book on a Wednesday after you end the workday, get some exercise and maybe clean up the kitchen, but you will enough to read for 30 minutes.

For more on making time for work and play, check out my interview. . . especially you busy working parents . . .