Inner Critic

More Helpful Ideas for Quieting that Negative Inner Critic

Negativity: Inner Critic

Negativity: Inner Critic

I’ve discussed this in more detail in “Controlling Your Inner Critic.” But Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D, has posted some more useful ideas at Psychology Today blogs: “How to Put Down that Self-Critic:”

Do you find that there is a critical voice in your head that follows you around all day and all night? It may pop up as you get out of bed (“Late again!”) or when you look in the mirror (“You look exhausted”). Or you notice it when you get to work (“You never get things done on time”). And when you meet people you hear that voice nagging at you saying, “What a bore you are.” If this sounds familiar then you might take some momentary comfort in knowing that you are not alone— and I don’t mean you are not alone because your critic follows you. I mean that almost all of us have that voice at times. The question is—what are you going to do about it?…

This may sound odd to say that the self-critical voice shouldn’t be taken seriously. But just because you are thinking something doesn’t mean that it is important, relevant, or something to spend time with. I like to think of these negative thoughts as the telemarketing call that you don’t take. Or, the caller ID that tells you it’s someone you don’t want to talk to. Or you can think of the self-critical thought as one of the trains at Grand Central Station that’s not going in your direction. Simply having a negative thought does not mean it is at all relevant to your valued goals. If you focus on your goals—and carry out challenging and sometimes difficult behavior to accomplish those goals—you can allow the self-critical voice to yack away in the background while you continue to move forward. Think about self-criticism as eaves-dropping on someone else’s conversation.

An alternative to the self-critical voice is the self-correction voice. Imagine the following: You are learning how to play tennis and you hit the ball into the net. The trainer comes out and tells you to whack yourself in the head ten times. Is that a good idea? In contrast, imagine a different trainer who shows you exactly how to hit the ball over the net. Which is the better approach? You can correct yourself without criticizing yourself. You can say, “OK, that behavior didn’t work this time, so let me try a different approach”. Replace your self-criticism with self-correction. Then you can use your mistakes as an opportunity to improve.

Self-criticism is often very general and very vague. Seldom does the person actually say, “Well, I need to hold the racquet this way rather than that way.” Rather, it is in very general terms, “I’m a lousy player” or, “I’m an idiot”. Check out your self-critical voice and ask yourself if you are making gross generalizations about yourself. Try to replace these statements with specific behaviors that you can change. After all, it’s a lot easier to change the way you hold the racquet than to stop being an idiot. (Here’s the test: How would you know when you had stopped being an idiot? How would you know if you are now holding the racquet correctly?)

Finally, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend. I have found that the nicest people I know are often incredibly self-critical–even cruel toward themselves. This is a double standard that only makes you feel worse. Try this: write out your self-critical statements for a day and then imagine saying all these things to your best friend. Why would you think it would be cruel and unfair to do that? In contrast, try saying supportive things to yourself that you would say to a friend. You will get a lot further rewarding and supporting yourself than by treating yourself in a way you wouldn’t treat a friend—or a stranger.

You won’t build a successful life on criticizing yourself. You will build it on getting things done.

All very useful advice. For those of us who suffer an inner critic modelled on a perfectionist parent, this nagging is worse than useless–it is demotivating. You can be a successful perfectionist by concentrating on the task, not yourself–“Next time I will do it differently and it will turn out better,” not “I am so stupid. I can’t do anything right!” If you want to accomplish things, you can’t get bogged down in recriminations — you get right back up and try it again with a correction. And again and again until the result is good enough. The perfectionist has to learn that 80% of what she thinks is perfect is generally a lot better than what others would think good enough, and learn to use her time wisely to move on to the next problem when the returns to further fine-tuning are small. By accomplishing much more than those who get bogged down in that last refinement, she tunes herself to be the very best; by seeing flaws no one else sees, she guarantees she will always be improving. By believing in herself and her methods, she is immune to the dispiriting inner critic.

Further reading:

“Controlling Your Inner Critic.”


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
nxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management

Introverts in Management

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’m mildly introverted — I tend to concentrate better when alone, and my energy for party engagement flags after about two hours, so I need to go somewhere else to recharge. That and a tendency to ADD made me a good individual contributor or independent business consultant, but a terrible manager. A workday of meetings — kill me now!

When I started my work life as a programmer, even lowly peons had offices with windows. Over time these were replaced by cubes, then carrels; some workers now get no permanent desk, but borrow an interchangeable desk and computer from a pool when they are onsite. It’s a good thing I got out of programming when I did — in the last conventional job I had, in 1999, I shared an office, which was distracting enough to cause problems.

Studies show multitasking leads to lost efficiency even for those who are good at it; for those who aren’t, like me, it can be deadly to productivity and increases stress. One minority not protected by corporate diversity campaigns is the introverted — they are viewed with suspicion and barely tolerated by many extroverted manager types. But of course introverts tend to be the ones who bring you perfect code fast, while extroverted meeting-goers are still BS-ing about specs and tools.

All managers who have trouble understanding their introverted team members could benefit from reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Understanding work conditions introverted staff require to shine will help managers avoid sabotaging their valuable introverts by overscheduling meetings or demanding people-oriented work from them that will exhaust them. Task your extroverts with outward-facing work and save your introverts for detail-oriented tasks requiring intense focus.

Life is more difficult for introverts as managers. Psychology Today has a good interview with introvert Doug Conant, founder and CEO of ConantLeadership, New York Times bestselling author, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company, and Chairman of Avon Products:

What have you said to yourself that could have held you back on your leadership journey? How did you silence that negative voice?

I never was a good interviewee but [career counsellor] Neil sensitized me to the fact that I needed to communicate my thoughts in a thoughtful and constructive way. He called it the concept of integrity-laden role play.

He said, “Doug, you are misleading people when they meet you, because you’re not telling them who you really are. You’re a professional athlete who is a ferocious competitor, who wants to win, and wants to do it in an honorable way. Nobody is ever going to have any idea that this is the case with you because you’re so damned polite. They have to see the fire that burns within you.”

I’ve carried that thought with me since the early days of losing my job. It was awkward for me to talk about myself but I started what I call “declaring myself.” The first hour of the first day I meet with someone I tell them everything about me — things I believe in, the way I work — in an incredibly explicit way, I declare myself to my bosses, my people I work with, and the people that work for me. I actually write it down. I go through it with people and then I invite them to come back and talk to me, take an hour with me on whatever they want to talk about.

My experience in the corporate world is you do this dance with new people for a couple of months. Both parties wonder, “what does he or she really want? How can I make this work?” That is why I take all the mystery out of it. I share with you on the first hour of the first day anything you could possibly want to know about me. And then I’m available to you to talk about anything you could possibly want to share with me. And then we get focused on moving forward together in a constructive way.

It clears the deck of all the dance. I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful. It’s particularly helpful to introverts like me, because it gives me a structured way to connect with people. I was almost afraid to tell people I was introverted. So I sort of came out of the closet on my introversion. I tell people when I meet them, “I’m an introvert.”

If you seeing me standing off at an event by myself your tendency might be to say, “Well, there’s a CEO. He’s being aloof.” But the real reason is I’m shy and I don’t know people. So I encourage people to come up to me and ask, “Doug, are you being shy and reserved again?” And I’ll say yes, and then we’ll start talking.

Just opening that up was so freeing for me as I got into jobs where I needed to be more public and more available to people. And so it went from just acknowledging my introversion to declaring myself in a proactive way.

Pretty renderings of a supposedly low-distraction office of the future.

“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
nxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic: Subpersonalities
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management

Controlling Your Inner Critic

Negativity: Inner Critic

Negativity: Inner Critic

In my book Kinnison, Jeb. Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner, I briefly discuss the “inner critic,” a subpersonality that can do a lot of damage by subjecting you to a continuous stream of negative, hypercritical inner dialog.

In the discussion of the fearful-avoidant attachment type we mentioned the damage done by overly-perfectionist, narcissistic caregivers in causing children to suppress their true inner selves in favor of a false personality designed to please parents. Many of these children, as adults, have an inner voice which tends to find fault in themselves and others, an “inner critic.”

This inner critic is an example of a subpersonality—an inner persona with a distinctive voice and behavior, often learned from a caregiver or authority figure. Years of early childhood spent interacting with a person creates a model in a child’s head of how that person would acts or speaks while observing the child’s behavior, so the common observation that our parents live on in a sense as voices in our head is often correct. If we are brought up with love and attention, these voices are loving and positive, and guide us to confidence and achievement; if they are critical and negative, our view of the world, ourselves, and other people becomes unrealistically dark. Subpersonalities often come into play as defense mechanisms, shielding an abused child from the psychic damage poor treatment would otherwise produce.

Fast Company has a useful discussion by Vivian Giang on “How to Mute Your Negative Inner Dialogue: Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic. Here’s How You Can Clear Your Mind Chatter and Live in the Now.” It’s aimed at business leaders but is useful for everyone:

You’ve heard that voice in your head. You’ve lived with it for so long, you probably don’t even notice it anymore. What you do know is that this voice drives you crazy because it just won’t stop. It’s incessant, and has an opinion about everything.

If you’re someone who is always “in your head,” you have difficulty being present even when you’re surrounded by people because you’re drowned in your own thoughts.

Constantly being in your head also stops you from living a full life. Instead you are just an observer of your life. You are just watching it while the voice inside you narrates the world. You’re basically re-creating the outside world inside of yourself and then you live it in your mind.

A DEFENSE MECHANISM

Why do you have to do this? You already see everything that is happening on the outside, so why do you have to repeat it in your head?

In his book The Untethered Soul, author Michael Singer says people do this to protect themselves from the world. If they narrate it in their mind, then they feel like they have more control of what’s happening, but this is untrue. Either way, you have no way of protecting yourself from anything that will happen.

But what can you do to stop this voice that is a part of you? According to Singer, this voice isn’t you and the faster you learn how to separate those thoughts from who you are, the quicker you will be able to experience the world in a stark, unfiltered way.

TURN OFF THE VOICE FOR GOOD

To manipulate these thoughts, first take a step back from that voice and view it objectively. It’s important that you understand that nothing your inner voice says is really you. If you take sides and think one voice is more representative of you than the other, then you’ve already failed at being objective.

The best way to separate yourself is to imagine the voice as a separate human who just won’t shut up.

“Make believe that your roommate, the psyche, has a body of its own,” Singer says. “You do this by taking the entire personality that you hear talking to you just inside and imagine it as a person talking to you on the outside. Just imagine that another person is now saying everything that your inner voice would say. Now spend a day with that person.”

You will eventually find that you need to get as far away from this person as possible because they’re neurotic and they scare you. The more you realize that these thoughts won’t help you get anywhere faster and that they’re not really you, the quicker you will become a much happier, peaceful person. The faster you will be able to experience the world as a person living in it–not as a person trapped in their own mind.

The running commentary from an inner critic can prevent you from seeing the world around you as it truly is — by constantly occupying your attention and distorting your view of the world, it is as if that critical parent of your childhood is constantly with you to continue meddling in your life by judging everything you do according to their standards. You can free yourself from the worst effects by recognizing that this subpersonality is harming you and preventing you from making your best decisions uncolored by its constant negativity. You grew up having to behave in accordance with what that voice said, but now there is no one who will be hurt or disappointed if you stop listening. And when you have stopped listening to it, it will stop talking.

If you have this problem, reading one of these books may give you more insight:

Rowan, John. Discover Your Subpersonalities: Our Inner World and the People in It. Routledge, 2013. Our stream of consciousness includes messages to direct our own actions—but what voice has the floor? It can be useful to look at conscious thought as an agora where internal subpersonalities struggle to be heard and control our actions. This can be especially helpful when a subpersonality that represents the overprotective or oppressive parental voice is identifiable and is distorting the thinking of the child in adulthood.

Stone, Hal, and Stone, Sidra. Embracing Your Inner Critic: Turning Self-Criticism into a Creative Asset. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993. 


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
nxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic: Subpersonalities
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management