In the last two Coffee & Notes, I introduced the concept of the three major energy thieves in our lives: worry, resentment and comparisonitus.
When it comes to your worries, did you make the list of everything you are currently worrying about? Made decisions on each worry, decided on the process and actioned them? You can re-read part 1 here.
Did you tackle the resentment elephant in the room? What was the other person displaying, that you need a bit more of? Re-read part 2 here.
Today we are covering comparisonitus. Whenever I hear myself or others comparing themselves unfavourably to other people, I think aha! The Inner Critic in action.
The Inner Critic
Do you hear a voice in your head that tells you off? Feel like you never do well enough no matter how successful you are? Never feel good enough at work, in relationships or physically? Focus on your faults no matter what compliments others give you?
“Comparison says, ‘be like everyone else, but better’.’” – Brené Brown
The Inner Critic developed when at some point earlier on in your life you were hurt, felt ashamed, criticised or abandoned. It desperately wants to avoid that primal pain so tries it’s best to make us perfect by criticising us into perfection. The Inner Critic is like an alarm system that rings inside you warning you that the Inner Critic is unhappy and deeply concerned about what you are thinking, feeling or doing.
The Inner Critic steps in to protect you from the criticism of others. Its job is to criticise you before someone else does so that you don’t get further rejected and shamed.
The criticism can be verbal (inside your own head) or it can be less verbal and more of an energy and a feeling of perhaps self-loathing.
The Top 12 Traits of the Inner Critic
- Constricts your ability to be creative
- Stops you from taking risks because it makes you fear failure
- It views your life as a series of mistakes waiting to happen
- Compares you unfavourably to others and makes you feel “less than”.
- Constantly warning you not to look foolish
- Terrified of being shamed so monitors all your behaviour to avoid this
- Causes you to suffer from low self-esteem and possibly depression because it tells you that you are not good enough
- It can make looking at yourself in the mirror or shopping for clothes miserable because of its ability to create such a negative view of the body
- Takes all the fun out of life with criticism
- Makes self-improvement an unpleasant chore rather than a chance to grow because its basic premise is – there’s something wrong with you
- It doesn’t allow you to take in the good feelings that other people have towards you
- Make you susceptible and often victim to the judgements of other people
6 Practices for Separating from the Inner Critic
There is a positive element to this critical voice too. It can keep you on your toes and make sure your standards don’t slip. It does this by reminding you of what isn’t right about you. Having this part of you as a friend can be a useful ally to be the best you can be.
However, for many people this voice is too strong and at times gets out of control resulting in critic attacks which can be debilitating at times.
Here are some top tips to dial down your Inner Critic from too strong to within the helpful range.
- Notice where your Inner Critic lives. Does it hang out in the bathroom mirror, turn up when you go on LinkedIn, in the bathroom scales or at the office?
- Find out what people trigger you into a critic attack. Look for the inherent judgements and comparisons that create the fuel for the Inner Critic.
- Find out when the Inner Critic attacks. Observe whether it is fuelled by judgements, stress, other parts of your personality, unfamiliar situations, being the centre of attention or bad fortune?
- What are the main areas the Inner critic focuses on? Body, health, success, fitness, intelligence, commitment, follow through, personal development, reactivity, meditation skills etc..
- Find out what rules your Inner Critic is upholding. I must. I should. I have to.
- Comparison invokes competition so instead of win or lose situations activate compassion and ask, “what can I do to serve?” The only comparisaon in this question is “how do I serve more authentically?”
Inner critics are supposed to be hidden. If you know about its existence, it already loses some power. I hope by reading this Coffee & Notes you are feeling a little more powerful as a result?
Drop me a message and let me know how this article relates to you and if you want some further support.
Keep Opening Up,
PS Did you miss the opportunity to join the Planning 2023 Workshop? Get access to the 2.5hr replay until 01/01/2023 here for £43. Each ticket provides 2,000 days of access to clean water for people in the world through the Business for Good (B1G1) scheme.
PPS I have been interviewing some of my clients about their coaching journeys on the Women in STEM Career & Confidence podcast. Catch the first two episodes here: