Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Is Your Inner Critic Telling You?

We all have one, the inner voice that says, 'you can't do that,' 'who do you think you are,' ' that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard,' and always, 'I told you so.' 

This week at work, I've had my staff doing an exercise in identifying their greatest strengths. Not the strengths they think they should have, but those things they really love to do. It's amazing how much discomfort this has caused, as if claiming our strengths is arrogant and unbecoming.  I can't tell you how many 'yeah, but' responses I've received after pointing out a noticeable attribute.

However, everyone seems very keyed into what they can't do, shouldn't do and will never be able to do.  I guess it's easier to spend our valuable time stressing about what we don't know and seeking those soaked-in-bullshit 'opportunities for improvement.'  You know, so we can all be well-rounded people. 

Well-rounded:  You don't suck too much at any one thing

What's wrong with figuring out what we do really well and...doing that?  Yeah, I know, easier said than done.  In my world, healthcare reform has everyone gathering and analyzing data for every single thought or action.  We are trained on this and coached on that until you'd think an Excel spreadsheet is the mechanism through which Jesus will come again.

Look, I understand this new focus, but that's not my strength.  Fortunately, I'm very good at other things.  Is Inner Critic happy with that?  Oh, hell no.  He's already told me, 'your so-called strengths don't mean crap in the current environment.  You can't even provide data to show their success.  Didn't I tell you your degree was worthless?' 

Inner Critic, while a pain in my ass, also keeps me on my toes.  There's something about his existence that helps me stay motivated to push myself to new heights.  Of course, whatever I might accomplish, it will never be enough to silence him - no achievement is enough - but proving him wrong every now and then is almost enough for me.

What has your inner critic been telling you lately?

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  1. My inner critic yammers and stabs at me night and day. It took me years to identify its voice; when I realized it was an amalgam of several real-life nemeses (a sadistic great-aunt, an abuser teacher, a toxic younger sister,) I started to finally question what it had to say. That doesn't shut it up, though. It goes on flicking its forked tongue at me whatever I do.

  2. Hi Olenska -Yes, inner critic is impossible to shut up. His stamina is impressive. Glad you identified the sources, though, and started questioning. Maybe just turning the volume down is the best we can hope for.



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