I hope everyone had a fun Halloween and didn’t suffer too badly from sugar hangover! More importantly, I hope you were able to take a moment and unmask some of those inner critics lurking around. I know that this is often easier said than done. I got a lot of emails from people who felt a sense of relief that they finally had a language to use when dealing with this issue, but were also looking for some extra tools to help them identify when their inner critics were trying to butt in. Well, as promised in the last post, I’ve got just the thing: Inner Critic Profiles. The idea behind inner critic profiles is to get a deep understanding of who your inner critics are, what kind of agendas they have, and how they operate. By getting to know your inner critics inside/out, you’ll be better able to identify when they’re around, which will ultimately help you to make sure that they don’t take control of your career.
Since inner critics are always up to no good, I want you to imagine that they’re criminals and that you’re an FBI profiler creating a profile of one of your inner critics so that someone would know how to identify them if you weren’t around.
You’ll want to make sure that you have a name and a physical description for your inner critic, but I’m going to challenge you to go deeper and explore who your inner critic is and what makes it tick. Flesh out as many details as you can.
How would you describe your inner critic’s personality? What about its attitude? When is it most likely to visit you? What does it love to tell you? Does it have a favorite story? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What’s its biggest complaint? Does it have a posse? How does it get what it wants: does it throw a tantrum or does it smooth-talk you? Does it have any vulnerabilities? Does it feel threatened by anything?
Here are some examples of inner critic profiles:
Meet Just-in Time Sucker. Justin is the ultimate procrastinator and is always telling me to do it later or tomorrow. He loves to make excuses for why I should watch one more episode of TV before going back to work.
He says things like, “You don’t have to do it right now — no one will notice if you put it off one more day.” He usually goes into projects or meetings feeling unfocused and unprepared, and when things don’t work out, he loves to tell me that I have no one to blame but myself.
And then there’s Darlene the Drama Queen. She is totally unforgiving and has unrealistic expectations for me. Nothing is ever good enough for Darlene. She’s a snotty little pig-tailed know-it-all. She’s always pointing out where I messed up and says things like, “See, you are never going to get it right. You might as well give up now. You’ll never be good enough.”
She mostly bothers me right when I come out of an important meeting with someone I want to work with, and she sits on my shoulder for the rest of the day barking at what I should have done better. She’s relentless, always telling me, “you don’t have enough time and you won’t get everything done, so why not just stop now.”
She’s a cousin of Perfectionist Patty — you get my drift.
So, now it’s your turn. Give yourself plenty of time to explore these questions and, regardless of your inner critic’s comments, have fun with it! Remember: keep this playful and light. And if you’d like to get even more support and tools for dealing with inner critics, we’ve got an entire lesson dedicated to it in Artists In Action — profiling is just the beginning. But, it’s still a big step! So, get to it and write up as many profiles as you can. When you’re done, swing back over here and leave the names of your inner critics in the comments. Good luck!