Gertrude is always with me. She has shiny black hair pulled back in a fiercely tight bun. She has a long, pointy nose and she smokes incessantly. Her teeth are yellow and she squints much of the time, making her shriveled up face look as if she’s smelled rotten eggs. In her gruff voice she relentlessly badgers me, saying things like, “That’s horrible, do that over,” and “What were you thinking? That stinks!” Just the other day she came shopping with me and insisted I lose at least five pounds before I ever think about trying on clothes again. She tends to sneak up on me when I least suspect it, like when I am trying to sleep, she taunts me repeating, “You’re not smart enough, not creative enough, not attractive enough.”
You would think I wouldn’t hang out with Gertrude anymore with her eagerness to share her criticizing color-commentary on all aspects of my life. I mean, I bet if you had a friend like Gertrude there’s no way you would let her talk to you the way she does. And yet, each one of us has our own Gertrude that follows them from morning till night, pointing out flaws and limitations in their otherwise perfect selves. You may know her by a different name. Perhaps you call her Millicent or Gremlin, maybe Saboteur or Inner Critic. Freud called his, Superego. Regardless of her name, the results of her actions are often the same; in the wake of her words we are left feeling incomplete, insecure, incompetent and inadequate.
Good news though, your Critic isn’t alone in there. Alongside her persistent pestering is the voice of your True Self, the one who knows who you really are and the feats you are capable of accomplishing. Your True Self is your cheerleader, unconditional lover and PR agent. Each day she makes herself available to defend you because she knows just how incredible, invaluable, inspiring and ingenious you really are.
~ PRACTICAL PRACTICES: MEET, MEDIATE AND MASTER ~
Unfortunately, the Critic often speaks louder than the True Self, making it difficult for us to connect to what is most important to us. The Critic will prevent us from applying for our dream job or reaching out to that secret crush. She can talk us out of believing in ourselves and striving for our goals. Although she can’t generally be silenced completely, she can be quieted just enough so we can hear the voice of our True Self guiding us along our right path.
For the next month, I invite you to take these steps to get to know your Critic and True Self a little bit better. In developing these relationships you will learn to turn down the judgmental drone of the Critic and turn up the beautiful voice of your own True Self.
MEET YOUR CRITIC AND TRUE SELF
Picture your Critic and True Self in great detail. What do they look like? What are they wearing? Are they actually a person or maybe an animal or cartoon character? What do they smell like? What are they called? Envision the action your Critic takes each time she picks on you and imagine what your True Self looks like when she comes to your defense.
For instance one of my clients reports that her Critic is an actual Gremlin wielding a baseball bat and her True Self is Wonder Woman armed with a blowtorch.
MEDIATE A CONVERSATION
Get your Critic and your True Self chatting. Give your True Self the chance to be heard over the often-dominant Critic.
For instance, your True Self might say, “Why do you always pick on me?” and your Critic could perhaps reply, “If I don’t pick on you, you won’t be successful,” to which your True Self can respond, “Yes, I will be a success, but it would be a lot easier if you’d stop nagging me.” .
MASTER YOUR INNER VOICES
Whenever your Critic gives her disapproving opinion, ask your True Self what she has to say on the matter.
For instance, when your Critic says, “You’re not smart enough to get that job,” your True Self might reply, “You have no evidence for that statement. I am smart enough, and I can get that job.”
IT IS with the support of our True Selves that we can learn to recognize and dismiss our Critic’s disparaging remarks as being unfounded, while increasing our capacity to welcome and believe our True Selves’ words of encouragement, so that day by day we can grow to accept and appreciate that we are, and have always been, way more than enough.
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Life Balance expert, Kirsten Mahoney, knows how to help you live a more balanced less stressful life. If you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and over-committed and want to be more balanced, focused and productive come visit www.insightoutlifecoaching.com and take back control of your life.