Compassion and our Inner Critic

From my years working as a coach the most common feedback I hear is clients telling me they are no longer so harsh on themselves.

I’m really proud of this.

Our own inner critic is often our biggest blocker.

Clients come to me with a huge range of concerns including procrastination, confidence, imposter syndrome, lack of progression at work, a feeling that they haven’t quite got where they want to be in life yet, and much more besides.

But often the first place to start in resolving any of these concerns is to grow your self compassion and to recognise that your inner critic is usually exaggerating (at best) or down right lying to try and protect you.

That’s it’s job. But you can choose not to listen.

You can choose to ignore it.

Lets take one of many examples around this…while this is a fictional example it really exemplifies what can happen during coaching…

Client: I have a huge assignment to do at work, but I keep procrastinating, I don’t know where to start.

Me: Is it true you don’t know where to start?

Client: Yes, there’s so much to get done and I just can’t see a way into it

Me: Ok, but what if you did know where to start, where would that be?

Client: Um, I guess I could start by writing down a huge random list of ideas

Me: Sounds great, how about you do that then?

Client: But I’ve got so much else to do I just don’t know how

Me: Well, you just told me exactly where you would start. Your brain is a little scared right now and shouting lots of things at you because it is afraid. But you don’t have to listen to all these thoughts. You already KNOW where to start. So take a deep breath, ignore those other voices for a short time and simply write down your big list of ideas. Then take another breath and work out what comes next.

Client: Ok, so I focus on this one task and just ignore everything else, how do I do that?

Me: Try saying to yourself “Thanks for the warning, but I know exactly what I need to do right now and I’m going to focus on that”. You could put a timer on for an hour and allow yourself this time to do this one task.

Client: That makes a lot of sense, I’ll try that, thank you.

You don’t have to listen to everything your brain is saying.

We often know EXACTLY what we want to be doing and by allowing space for this and to move forward while our brain is scared is such a powerful ability that you can practice and get better at over time.

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