Last week, we discussed what the Inner Critic is and how to develop an awareness of its presence and its damage. This week, we move on to the next steps of quieting your inner critic.
Step 1 –Awareness as discussed last week.
Step 2 – Get a clear picture of your critic. In your mind or via some art form, put a face to your inner critic. Does it look like some form of yourself, a drill sergeant, your dismissive stoic teacher with her glasses halfway down her nose? Give your critic a name. Name your inner critic (mine is named Lee) and start recognizing it when it speaks to you.
Step 3 – Recognize your inner critic when they are speaking to you – call them out by name and picture them. "Oh, hi Lee. I see you're here."
Step 4 – Choose compassion over judgment. When you recognize your inner critic saying negative, defeating things or questions, choose acceptance and understanding because they serve you better than judgment. Instead of "Oh, no, I'm doing it again!” choose, “I’m not surprised you showed up, Lee. It's just part of being human. I know you have reasons for telling me these things - it’s just a pattern for you.” Judgment keeps you stuck. Compassion and acceptance help move you forward.
Step 5 – Challenge the statements. Start to open up to the fact that your inner critic’s words/beliefs do not define your true self. Create space between your true identity and the things the inner critic offers. “Thanks for that perspective, but I’m recognizing I have actually _________ (learned a lot), (patients really connect with me), etc. I’m now telling myself the truth.” Look for evidence in the opposite direction from your inner critic. I like to think of it as giving your inner fan the microphone to find its voice. Often your inner critic highlights generalizations, future, past, emotions, and uncertainties. Combat those with specifics, present, actionable, what is known.
Step 6 – Reframe by giving your inner fan the station PA mic. Lee: “How could you forget to order that lab? You’re terrible at this” Inner Fan: “I didn’t think of ordering that important test at the first visit, but I’ve thought of it now, and I’m so glad I did. I’m getting better at this.”
Step 7 – Take time to celebrate your wins. We often dismiss those wins as just “doing your job.” But remind your brain that you do a lot of things well on the regular.
These steps will help quiet your inner critic. Oh, don’t worry, they won’t ever disappear, but you will grow in your ability to stop accepting those hurtful phrases as truth.
Have a joy-filled day! Tonya
If you know a resident or faculty who really needs a reset, check out our 6-week program with minimal clinical interruption.