Tag Archives: inner critic

The world did not end*

* spoiler alert. It didn’t. It even got better…

I realised I made a mistake. This is what happened afterwards – the short version:

  • That’s stupid, You’re stupid! (inner critic, yelling and pointing a finger at me)
  • Get me out of here, I can’t bear it! (inner child, screaming, running in all directions trying to escape, wanting to put her fingers in her ears)
  • I realise there’s an inner drama going on (inner adult)

First response: fight that critic! (inner critic criticising inner critic).

Second response: do something nice to relax! (inner child asking for fun escape)

In the meanwhile, I was procrastinating on Facebook… Then I realised it might have something to do with the inner drama…

Me calling my inner adult.
First response: silence…
Second response: maybe…

Me calling out my inner adult from behind my frightened child: I know you are here, let’s do this together. I’ll ask you questions, you can answer.
First response: okay… (inner adult)
Second response: hey, I’m already here! (inner adult)

Me: What can you say to a stressed out parent type?
Inner adult: Thanks for the warning, I’ll take it from here. I know how to handle this.

Me: What can you say to a frightened child?
Inner adult: It know it looks unbearable, but I don’t thinks it’s that bad. Shall we go and have a look together?

Me to my inner adult: Thanks!

I’ve learned this weekend that the most natural response for human beings is to reach out and search for help. If that help doesn’t appear, then comes fight or flight mode. When that doesn’t work, then follows freeze (going numb). Over time, you adapt. If the option ‘help’ gets disappointed too often, you skip it and sooner choose for fight or fight. If that mode fails you too often in creating what you want, then freeze becomes the preferred mechanism of your brain.

If I apply that knowledge to what just happened, I learn some things:
1) Hanging around of Facebook for too long can be a sign of wanting help, or a sign of being in flight mode. It’s nice when I learn to recognise which one it it, so I can work with it. If I long for help, I can decide to ask for it.

I’ve done that one time when I was feeling really, really, really low. I asked my Facebook friends to say something nice about me because I felt crap, and I got the most heart warming responses. And I could tell they meant them, which helped me open up to the feeling that I might be more okay than what my brain was telling me.

2) If I’m in flight mode, I can give in to it – or try to find a way to make it safe to check what’s going on inside me.

In this post, looking at it through the structures of inner critic and inner child, helped me to find the safety to look from a distance and try to understand which thoughts were going on. So I could take it from there.

Now I get it, and no I want to go back to work! The mistake that triggered all this, was calling someone 15 minutes late. I’m glad that I noticed that the stress it caused me was out of proportion, and that I concluded that something was going on. Thanks to my learnings this weekend, I realised I could choose to look at both my inner critic and my inner child from the perspective of compassion. Then I could stop fighting them, and had space for my inner adult to enter the stage.

I used to thing that fighting my inner critic was the adult thing to do. I used to think that being self critical was helpful to force me to get things done. This post helped me realise that my inner adult does not fight, criticise or hide. When it’s there, it listens to the ruckus going on, and responds. And helps to make choices.

I know I should work on the lay-out of this post, but I REALLY want to get my work done. And then I REALLY want to go outside. Priorities! Many thanks if you managed to read the text anyway. The brilliant place/space where I’ve been learning the new things is: http://psentraining.com/

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In the post I visited yesterday I wrote that I have low confidence in my ability to stick to a concrete plan. Confession time: I ran away from the post after I’d read it, and didn’t manage to get any planning done yesterday. Other stuff that needed doing? Yes. Planning? No. I even realised I’d sooner have worked on my horrible task itself, than the planning for it.

Yesterday I decided to let it happen. Today that won’t fly. I WILL plan.

Just now I realised my low confidence in my ability to stick to a concrete plan only matters if I believe it has consequences. I can’t play standing base. Do I care about that? No, since it has no consequences (apart from me not being in a psychobilly band, which I can live with).

So what about my perceived inability to stick to a concrete plan is such a drama? Obviously nothing, but some part of me is telling me differently. I’ll try to shed some light on the fictitious monsters under my bed. I’ll challenge them after I uncover them.

I believe I SHOULD be able to stick to a concrete plan

Now that I write that down I wonder: why? There are probably millions of people who don’t know how to stick to plan or who don’t care about planning or sticking to it in the first place. Why do I believe that I HAVE TO BE ABLE to?

If I can’t stick to a plan, I’m a worthless coach

Again, as soon as I wrote this down, I noticed this thought doesn’t make sense to me at all, even though it’s mine (hidden beneath layers of rationality, I’ve practised on those discoveries). In my thorough training for being a coach, sticking to a plan was never a requirement.

If I can’t stick to a plan, I’m a worthless procrastination coach

My brain is trying to convince me the thought makes sense, by altering it. I’m a worthless procrastination coach then? No, not true either. It’s probably the other way around: if I thought planning was easy, I’d keep believing it’s a solution or even a cure for procrastination.  If it only was that easy…

If I can’t stick to a plan, I’m stupid

I think we’re at the end of my reasoning here, because I feel the urge to stop writing this and simply make a planning. I don’t even care about refuting this thought.

To make sure I don’t lose my way: I’ll only share this post after my planning is done 🙂

Got my planning done. Got ‘rewarded’ with a deadline – it turns out my planning is absolutely necessary! Also, I have already done the first part of my planning.

The inner critic (the thoughts written in bold) is not winning today 😉

And my #NaPoWriMo post got done before anything else: Would you pray to me. Productivity wise, something could be said against that… Then again: I’ve had my fun, now I’ll get everything done 😉 That will be my motto today

A procrastination drama triangle

Let’s apply a theory about interaction between people to you and your procrastination tendencies. Just for fun. I’ll introduce you to the drama triangle – something that may be surprisingly familiar when you think about people you know. Mind you: you need only two people for a full triangle! Do you recognise any of these?

The drama triangle

The Karpman Drama Triangle models the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, and the destructive and shifting roles people play:

  1. The Victim: The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, and seems unable to make decisions, solve problems, take pleasure in life, or achieve insight. The Victim, if not being persecuted, will seek out a Persecutor and also a Rescuer who will save the day but also perpetuate the Victim’s negative feelings.
  2. The Rescuer: The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.” A classic enabler, the Rescuer feels guilty if he/she doesn’t go to the rescue. Yet his/her rescuing has negative effects: It keeps the Victim dependent and gives the Victim permission to fail. The rewards derived from this rescue role are that the focus is taken off of the rescuer. When he/she focuses their energy on someone else, it enables them to ignore their own anxiety and issues. This rescue role is also very pivotal because their actual primary interest is really an avoidance of their own problems disguised as concern for the victim’s needs.
  3. The Persecutor: (a.k.a. Villain) The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.” The Persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior.
[This explanation is copied from Wikiedia, from its page on drama triangle -> a social model that was conceived by Stephen Karpman, a student studying under Eric Berne, the father of transactional analysis.]

A typical example could sound like this:

  • Victim (helpless voice): I don’t know what to do
  • Rescuer (energetic): I have some greate advice for you
  • Persecuter 1 (blaming voice): Your advice doesn’t work for me
  • Persecutor 2 (blaming voice): You just don’t want to be helped
  • Persecutor turns to victim: I work so hard to help you and you just don’t appreciate it
  • Former Victim turns Rescuer: It’s not you, my problems are very intricate

Two people, changing roles, a full traingle.

Procrastination drama

Transactional analysis is an intereaction model, meaning it describes how people may respond to each other. I’ll try it out as an introspection model now, to see how I may respond to myself:

  • The Victim: For whatever reson, big or small, I feel victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, or unable to make decisions/achieve insight/solve problems/take pleasure in life. When I give into “Poor me!”, the procrastination dynamic starts…
  • The Rescuer: Procrastination to the rescue! ” Not doing something will feel like self care. Yet this rescuing has negative effects: It keeps the Victim dependent and gives the Victim permission to fail. The rewards derived from the procrastiation are that the focus is taken off of the the difficult feelings. It enables me to ignore what’s really going on, for example my own anxiety or other issues.
  • The Persecutor: (a.k.a. Villain) The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.” The Persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior. In this case it’s trying to whip the Victim into productivity. (You may have met this person before in my earlier posts, then named the inner critic.)

DramaTriangleS

Source https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADramTri.png  By Cdw1952 (Own work) [Attribution, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tomorrow I’ll follow up with a post on how to deal with the procrastination drama. Simply pushing through is not the answer. Sometimes it might be. More often (and if you’re looking for a life that works for you) it’s helpful to address the actual thing that going on – and THEN get your thing(s) done.

 

How to motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated at all?

I’m tempted to go through my old blog posts to see if I’ve already written about this, but I dislike searching (you could say I’m not motivated to search…). I’ll do a little thinking instead. At least I know why I feel unmotivated: I like results, and I feel I’ve had no result for ages.

  • The flu is not over yet (though, admittedly, I’m better than yesterday, why does my inner critic refuse to count that as a result?)
  • I haven’t worked on my project for a week (well, that’s what it feels like, it might be shorter or longer).
  • My blog hasn’t saved the world yet (okay, that wasn’t my ambition, but still, my inner critic asks me: what’s the use of writing on days when you only have private stuff to share?)

So if there are no results to talk about, or I’m not saving the world, why write? What’s the use of commitment when it leads nowhere? Writing this down, makes me realise it’s the inner critic who’s being discouraging.

Other inner parts to the rescue

I’ll ask other parts of me ‘why write’ and see if they have to add something. And yes, they do. Here’s what they have to say. Write because:

– writing is fun (hello inner child!)
– I enjoy the connections it brings
– it’s useful for me to type out the inner voices (hello inner adult)
– I’ll feel better when I stick to my commitment than if I don’t: I’ll be proud that I made it, and found a way to do it even when it was a struggle

The last sentence is important: it leads to the difference between norms and values. AKA carrots and sticks.

Value and norms

A norm tells you what you have to do, and that you’re bad if you don’t do it: it’s motivation by stick. The inner critic likes to use that stick to beat you into obedience. It fears there’s danger it not obeying the norms, so it tries to help you by criticising you. (Does that make sense?)

A value on the other hand is more like a carrot: a positive force that drives you to act. You do it because you WANT to, because you BELIEVE it’s the right thing. You feel happier when your values are in place, and feel bad when someone treads on them.

(Here’s a puzzle for you: is there a value that makes people want to obey rules? Then obediency might be a carrot for them, not a stick).

Commitment from the place of “I have to” sets the horse shoe in motion that I talked about. It brings out my inner toddler. Or it does now. I have a long history of being very obedient to my “I have to-’s”.

Commitment from the place of a value brings me to what I want. I want to show myself that I can stick to something for 30 days, even when it comes with ups and downs.

Full circle?

When I started my project, one of my goals was to show myself that I could do it: work on something that’s very challenging for me, and not drown. Because I was ill, I had no energy to work on my project. But I can work on my blog from that same goal: get something done (I know how to do that), and make the adjustments I need to get it done in a way that’s good for ME (that’s what I’m learning: boundaries, flexibility, and probably a bunch of other important things that I don’t realise at this moment).

So, in the end, I WAS motivated to write this post. I had to search for it. If I had found none, I truly believe that the healthy option would have been to not blog today. And from there, decided again tomorrow: to continue or to quit? For now, I’ve made it to #NaBloPoMo day 27.

If you would have told me on day 1 of my project that I’d be LONGING to work on it later this month, I wouldn’t have believed you. I do now.

A playgroud for my inner child

Still meh. Still fever. Bored with myself. I’ve been writing about my inner voices a lot, so today’ll I present you the playground for my inner child:

https://unassortedstories.wordpress.com/

I started writing short stories and poems around 2013, just for the fun of it. Little did I know about how much jox, relaxation, and wonderful online connections (Yes, that’s you David Ellis, amongst others)it would bring me.

Two years later I added paiting classes to my playground. To play, not to become a great painter. So I chose classes that helped me play (and get better at the same time): Lifebook in 2015 and 2016. Let’s Face it in 2017 and 2018. (These classes offer so much value that people rave about them out of gratefulness, not because of affiliation things.)

This year I’ve started to add my own paintings and drawings to my poems, something my inner critic wouldn’t let me do for a long time. Not good enough…

I don’t know how I got the courage to share my poems. In the beginning I was shy about sharing them, fearing criticism or scaring potential customers away or whatever my brain would come up with. But when I shared, it brought responses and interaction, which increased the fun of having written them. So I got used to sharing them.

Same goes for the paintings and drawings. I didn’t think much of them, and when I got a bit better there were more than enough flaws still. These days, I even share things I’ve made that I deem ugly.

I love great art, great poetry, great stories. But I don’t have to create those. I’m happy to be an amateur. I need a playground more than I need to be great. Seriously, it’s wonderful to be an amateur. Being an amateur is underrated.

When it comes to being successful, I care about my paid work. I want my coachings to be as good as they can be. To help people move forward. To change their lives. To increase their happiness. Big words, I know. It’s probably the only place in my life where I dream big. Because I know it’s possible.

I thought I was too ill to write today. No wisdom available, not willing to moan. I surprised myself with this number of words 🙂 It made a nice change from watching television.

I wanted to add a painting of mine I’m proud of. Then I thought it would be suitable to share an ugly one. I ended up choosing one that makes me smile.

#NaBloPoMo day 24

Today’s situation

* Health: throat aches, bad cough, slight fever, croaking voice
* Relationship: it’s our 15th anniversary today
* To do’s: more than I have energy for
* Blog: feel like I should share some wisdom because I think that’s why people read my posts.
* Inner critic: grumpy that it can’t criticise me for not taking good care of myself yesterday and blame the fact that I feel worse today on me. It feels cheated.
* Inner adult: plans a lot of rest between the two appointments I have today that I can’t cancel
* Inner child: wants to watch tv
* Wisdom: not today
* Enthusiasm: for other people’s blogs, for example:

A woman who combines decluttering wisdom with ethics.
The most generous writer I know, always spreading the word about people’s work.
The most surprising story I’ve read today.
The most playful man with words I know.

There are more blogs I love and enjoy, but my headache is growing and I think my inner child is right: time for tv!

Obviously, I won’t work on my project today. But #NaBloPoMo day 22 is done.

An inner critic might never be satisfied

It looks like yesterday’s ‘meh’ was a sign of me getting ill. I have a sore throat, a head ache, a cold sweat when I move, annoying things like that. Yet, I worked for an hour on my project, even though I’d given myself sick leave. You’d think that made my inner critic cheer and clap and admire me determination. Not at all.

Somewhere in me it’s grumpin’, complaining how that chore I started isn’t fully under control yet. Moaning that I worked too hard and didn’t stick to my planned time box or boundaries.

I’ve written a post called done is more fun than perfect. My inner critic doesn’t agree. It just always finds fault with me, no matter what I do…

Actually, that’s not entirely true. If I had read my own post before I started working on my project, I probably would have stopped sooner. Not when EVERYTHING is done (my usual, unspoken goal), but when I noticed it was draggin’ me down.

If I had stopped in time, I would be proud now about what I got done. I would be giving myself credit for working when I’m not feeling well. And applauding myself for stopping in time.

Instead, there’s moaning and complaining and telling me off going on. My inner critic always knows how to find me when I’m off balance… and is not likely to retreat voluntarily.

In a minute I will run a hot bath. I’ll take my cold, my headache, my inner critic and a good book with me. I’ll soak (everything except for the book), and float in warm comfort for as long as I feel like it.

Obviously, my inner critic doesn’t think I deserve a bath. Truth be told, I don’t think my inner critic deserves a bath. Yet I’ll take it with me, and it can see where it goes from there. I’m just not going to fight. It can leave whenever it wants to.

And I’ll not wait for it to compliment me that I got #NaBloPoMo day 21 done 😉