Topic: Take a holiday from criticism
have yet to find the man, however great or exalted his station,
who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a
spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.
Charles M. Schwab
Summer vacation time is here!
of us are looking forward to a well-deserved break from the day-to-day
pressures of our busy lives. When you pack for your summer holiday,
I invite you to consider carefully what you take with you in your
one item I hope to leave at home this year – and that is my
tendency to be critical. You know the tendency I’m talking about.
That tendency to negatively judge and evaluate -- myself, other people
-- and even the circumstances I find myself in.
Your critical inner voice
and author, Robert Firestone refers to this negative inner conversation
as the “critical inner voice”. Says Firestone, “The
critical inner voice is often experienced as a running commentary
in our mind that interprets events and interactions in ways that cause
us pain and distress. It is an internal dialogue, a harsh and judgmental
way of talking to ourselves.”
is the voice you’re hearing when:
• You look in the mirror and think: “I’m too fat”,
“I look old and wrinkled”, “My nose is too big”
or _______ (fill in the blank).
• You go on a job interview and worry: “I’m too
young and inexperienced, they’ll never hire me” or “I’m
too old for this industry. I’ll never convince them that I’m
up on the new technologies.”
• You fail to succeed at something you attempt and berate yourself:
“You idiot. Why can’t you be successful like so-and-so?
What’s the matter with you?”
inner critical voice can be quite brutal and unforgiving.
we are aware of its taunts and barbs – and we can exercise some
choice about how to deal with it. At other times, these negative self-judgements
form a barely perceptible background drone, resulting in feelings
of despondency and a drop in energy and inspiration. And we wonder
for our loved ones, we also project our critical inner voice onto
others. Ever felt critical of your partner, your children, your siblings?
“He dresses like a slob.” “She is so self-centred.”
She talks too much.” “He’s ridiculously shy.”
Paradoxically, we often reserve our harshest criticisms for those
who are closest to us and whom we love the most.
it be lovely to take a vacation-break from your tendency to
last newsletter, I talked about the corrosive effects of defensiveness
in your close relationships. (See
The Many Faces of Defensiveness)
can be an equally deadly activity. A complaint turns into a criticism
when we attack the character of a person, rather than simply focusing
on their behaviour. It’s the moment when we cease to see them
as a person who BEHAVED in a stupid or foolish way – and we
label them a stupid or foolish person. When we criticize ourselves,
we turn that character assassination inward.
are 3 ways to take a vacation from criticism:
Notice when you’re becoming critical of yourself.
Recognize when your inner critic has taken the floor. Don’t
resist or argue with the critical voice. Just thank it for sharing
and let those critical thoughts go. (Like meditation, the goal is
to notice your thoughts as they arise and then let them drift on
by, like clouds, without attaching to them.)
may be harder than you think. However even a small improvement in
your ability to detach from those negative thoughts can result in
a significant improvement in your mood.
Notice when you’re feeling critical of your partner/another.
Is there something you would like them to do or change? If so, take
your courage in hand and make a request. Do it with the awareness
that they have the right to decline or accept your request.
you are critical regarding something they can’t easily change,
then decide to let them off the hook for the duration of this vacation.
Give them (and yourself) a total break from your negative judgements.
Those critical thoughts will still be available when the vacation
is over – if you really miss them.
Acknowledge and appreciate yourself for 3 things each day.
Write them down in a journal and do your best to come up with new
and different things to appreciate about yourself every day.
you take my no-criticism challenge, I expect you’ll notice
a few things:
You may discover that your inner critical voice is more active than
you ever imagined.
• You may notice that your inner critical voice is very destructive
of your inner peace.
• You may discover that as you let go of your critical thoughts,
your joy will increase.
• You may realize that cultivating a kind and appreciative
attitude towards yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give
to others – as well as yourself.
summer vacation I invite you to make a change in your inner landscape,
as well as your outer. Take a holiday from those critical, negative
assessments of yourself and others. Let your inner sun shine!
me in the no-criticism challenge. Let me know how it goes!
These strategies may be a temporary solution, however there are
additional ways to understand and work with the critical voice --
when you have the time and energy. For those strategies I recommend
the very readable and practical book Conquer Your Critical Inner
Voice by Firestone, Firestone and Catlett.
completed the Integral Coaching Foundation and Apprenticeship Module.
This 5 month training with Integral Coaching Canada really stretched
me, as a coach and as a person. I feel excited about the possibilities
that have opened up, as I integrate my new learnings into my work
with clients and my own life.
Vollett BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 20 years
of combined experience in counselling and coaching. She delights in
helping pro-active individuals make positive changes in their lives,
their work/business and their relationships. Her clients appreciate
her ability to listen deeply, her compassionate wisdom and her support
in staying focused. Contact Shirley for a complimentary intro phone
session. If you are experiencing a challenge or are eager to make
some changes, explore how coaching works and how she can help. Click
on a link below or visit her website at http://shirley.vollett.com
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