Learning From Your Critical Inner Voice As A Life Coach
I’m delighted today to be hosting a guest post from Beautiful You Life Coach Libby Thompson. Libby is not only an incredible life coach, but a psychologist as well and recently she has become interested in the incredible role that self-compassion can play in our lives. She has been learning from the ‘Godmother’ of self-compassion based work, Kristen Neff, at a retreat, who is the best of the best in this field. I love Libby’s post on how as life coaches we can harness the power of self-compassion in our lives more. You can connect in with Libby further and her wonderful work at All You Can Be Psychology.
We all have it.
(Yes! Even as a life coach who is trying to ‘help’ people be their best and live an amazing life.)
A critical self.
That mean voice in your head that tells you that you are not good enough as a person or as a life coach, and that you need try harder, or do more, or that you simply aren’t measuring up. Your harsh inner critic can seem determined to keep you small as a coach, sometimes nearly every day.
Is it trying to destroy you though? Or is it actually trying to help you?
Though it may be strange to hear, your inner critic is probably trying to help you in some way by doing things such as shining a light on areas of your life and business that need your loving attention. In trying to keep you safe, your inner critic might prompt you not to take risks and step up into who you really are as a life coach. It may make you nervous to share with a client what you intuitively feel is right – even if it may be challenging for them to hear. It can also hold you back from reaching out to other amazing coaches to develop partnerships and relationships because you feel you aren’t ‘good enough’ or as successful’ as they are.
When we are fearful of doing something wrong or making a mistake, we are suffering. And when we suffer, it is important we care about ourselves in exactly the same way we would someone else such as our clients or a loved one. We all need kindness, compassion and forgiveness, especially if we are in the business of trying to help others cultivate these exact same things in their life. We so often show kindness and concern – especially as a life coach who is passionate about people all the time – to others, but when we need it ourselves we often seem to come up short, being far less understanding and far more judgmental. This is when our inner critic is undoubtedly being too harsh and we become in need of self-compassion and understanding.
What will serve us as a life coach and a person in managing and even learning to love our inner critic?
Being a good friend to yourself is a great start. And the best way to do that is through self-compassion. The good news is self-compassion is a skill and like any other, it can be developed with practice. I know before I started learning about self-compassion, I was really hard on myself. I would be scathing and say things to myself like: “You idiot. You are not good enough. Don’t even try. You’ll just make a fool of yourself.”
Ouch! Sound familiar?
My inner voice would keep me safe, but it would hold me back as well. And it would make me feel bad about myself.
These days, I am much more self-compassionate and I don’t call myself an idiot any more. I accept I am not perfect and that at times I am afraid, but I give things a go anyway and I am kind to myself if it doesn’t work out as planned. As a result, I am more compassionate not only to myself, but to those around me, including my clients. I find I can turn toward, rather than avoid painful feelings, and accept that I am human, and I don’t always get it right. If I treat myself with kindness and compassion, and try to soothe myself when I am feeling sad or in pain, I may not always immediately feel better, but I find I suffer much less than if I berate myself.
Want to give it a go?
Try this simple exercise.
Next time you are being really hard on yourself, think about what your critical inner voice is really saying to you.
Is it trying to protect you in some way? Allow yourself to listen to your inner critic and accept it may be trying to help you, but perhaps in a way that is too harsh. Turn toward yourself and in listening to your inner critic as someone who loves and is self-compassionate, ask yourself what is really going on and what it’s really trying to say. Do you need to try again? Go for a walk? Let something go? Forgive yourself? Stand strong?
Try saying to yourself “May I learn to accept myself as I am. May I give myself the compassion I need to deal with this situation.”
It is more than okay to be compassionate toward yourself, to be kind and forgiving, and have a deep felt wish for your own wellbeing. This is especially the case as a life coach who is trying to manage a growing business and the ever changing needs and desires of your clients. If you can develop the skill of loving yourself more compassionately, you won’t need the approval of others because you will be meeting that need within yourself. You will be your own best friend and coach too. Welcome to a new type of personal power!
What are your experiences of dealing with your own inner critic and the power of self-compassion for yourself as a life coach and your clients too?
Please comment below – I’d love to hear from you.