It’s not who we think we are that holds us back. It’s often who we think we’re not. We all have an amalgamation of internal voices made up of our wise self and the various members of our critical inner committee.
The voice that gets us to go for it, to believe in ourselves, to trust that we can figure things out and deal with whatever setbacks may come about is our wise voice. It’s the part of us that has paid attention all these years and really knows us and our potential.
It is all about possibilities.
The voice that chimes in to remind us that we are not enough, that we’ll probably fail and suffer great embarrassment is often referred to as the gremlin, saboteur, the inner critic, or the monkey-mind, among others. It’s the voice that endeavors to convince us that we are the Imposter Syndrome poster child. Its primary mission is to maintain the status quo by cleverly convincing us to play it safe. For, if we were to really succeed, achieve, grow and expand the critical voice knows that is the death of who it thinks it is.
The critical voice is uber-clever in its ability to keep us stuck right where we are. This creates a paradox. If things don’t improve, we imagine continuing to feel hopeless. In order to get what we think we want, we have to risk losing something and, if we lost it, we would feel hopeless. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. So, we take action, just not the right action. Actions that are usually akin to rearranging the deck-furniture on the Titanic.
The actions that will make a positive profound difference are the ones that scare our inner critic the most. The wise self knows we deserve to succeed, because. Because of our preparation and tenacity. Because we’ve paid our dues. Because we deserve a break. Because… we are a child of God.
So, what’s one to do when we hear the critical voice? Be like Indy. In the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones knows he must believe and have faith that it will work out as he steps off the edge of the cliff only to be met with an invisible, until now, bridge.
Most of us are not at risk of falling into an abyss. We’re maybe only risking a setback or perhaps a dose of ridicule. The worst that will probably happen is we learn something new and make some distinctions on how to do better next time. The critic hates that, by the way.
There are some excellent resources, in addition to coaching, that can help identify the voices that hold one back and show us how to work more effectively to do what needs to be done to achieve desired visions and goals.
The books Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson and Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine are excellent assets to digest and have at the ready.
We will always have our inner critic along for the ride. That doesn’t mean they have to always be driving the bus. They came on board during critical times and during key events in our lives to keep us safe–or so they thought. They mean well. The trick is, when you find that they have snuck into the driver’s seat and grabbed the steering wheel, to assure them that your wise self knows best and to give you a little room to take back control of the wheel.
Do your best to avoid making the voice wrong or dismissing it. Doing so just provokes it to become more clever to prove it’s right. Rather, thank it, ask for some space and reassure it that you have everything under control as you gently take back control.
The more you practice this process, the more profound and resonant your wise voice becomes and the softer and less controlling the critical voice becomes.
In his book Unwinding Our Mind Back to God, John Hoffmeister uses the following process to distinguish between the two voices of wise self and inner critic or what he calls the Holy Spirit and the Ego. At the end of the voice’s statement, can you hear the following, “Sayeth the Lord?”
I can’t imagine God saying, “You’re not enough.” Or, “You’re just going to screw this up again.” Or, “What is everyone going to think?” And certainly not, “It’s not your place to succeed, shine, or do good; that’s for other people but not you.”
Another and perhaps the most simple way to view it is — if the thought is not a loving thought, it’s not your wise self. Take the leap.