Executive Leadership Coaching

Watch out! Don't get thrown out of the cave!

This week we are honored to have a very special guest blog from our colleague Andrea Edwards of SwiftRiver Associates. 

“Why do you keep drawing attention to yourself?  Don’t you realize that everyone is saying bad things about you behind your back?  They don’t like you!  They think what you have to say and what you do is stupid! You should just stop trying to be so important…you’re really NOT.”

Can you imagine someone close to you, someone you know and trust, saying these awful things to you?  Most of us cannot.  It would be unthinkable for us to take this kind of meanness from a stranger or an enemy, never mind from someone who is supposed to love us.

Yet….this is EXACTLY the kind of thing we say to ourselves -- EVERY DAY

In the world of research about what holds people back from achieving their fullest potential, “Inner Critics” are near the top of the list.  We all have them.  Some of us are aware of this daily inner monologue, and some have not made that discovery yet.  Regardless of whether you are aware or not, the Inner Critic can be a real barrier to reaching your goals and changing in the ways most important to you.

So, why in the world do we all have these voices in our heads?  The most straightforward answer is: survival.   Our Inner Critics actually developed as “Inner Protectors”.  They try to keep us safe.  But these thought patterns are created by a part of the brain that’s designed to keep us from getting thrown out of the tribal cave and eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.  In other words, they are usually quite off the mark when it comes to modern-day life.

In the example above, this Inner Protector can be labeled “The Underminer”.  It tries to undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem so that you won’t take risks.  If you stay small and don't take chances, you might not be hurt or rejected.  It is afraid of you getting too big or too visible. It would really prefer you “stop trying to be so important” so you won’t fail, and so people won’t judge you.  Because if people judge you or reject you, The Underminer is afraid you will get thrown out of the cave and eaten by that saber-toothed tiger waiting outside.  But it's all made up...limiting us and keeping us trapped in old patterns.

Once we have the self-awareness to see and understand our unique set of Inner Critics, we can start to work with them. Inner Critics aren’t an evil part of our minds. They have a purpose and at their root is our brain trying to help us navigate the world safely.  But if we can see our Inner Critics instead as Inner Protectors running amok, we can start to use some new tools and techniques to figure out when to listen to that interior committee of ours – or when to politely thank them and quietly shut the door...choosing instead to move our deepest desires and goals forward anyway.

Something to ponder: What is your interior committee of Inner Protectors telling you?